Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Bruce Ratner is not like a public library

Though eminent domain cases in Brooklyn are not all alike, that seems to have escaped today's New York Times, which offers a City section article headlined Flexing Big Muscles for a Little Library:
The Ulmer Park Branch Library, a squat, one-story brick building on Bath Avenue in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, would seem to have little in common with the skyscrapers and the wavy metal arena proposed for the 22-acre site to the north where the developer Bruce Ratner seeks to build the Atlantic Yards.

But like Mr. Ratner, officials of the Brooklyn Public Library are wrangling with local landowners over property they want — in this case, the library building. And like Mr. Ratner, the library’s representatives have raised the possibility of using eminent domain, which is the government’s power to acquire private property without the owner’s consent for the public good.


OK, unlike Mr. Ratner, the library isn't a private corporation aiming to maximize its profit, but rather a nonprofit entity supported by the government and serving the public. And unlike Mr. Ratner, the library isn't already a tenant of all the land it wants. And unlike with Atlantic Yards, the primary--not the ancillary--purpose of the library project would be public.

Had the Times been covering the epic Atlantic Yards eminent domain case in federal court, maybe its reporters and editors would have a clue.

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