Friday, April 20, 2007

Will DOT come clean on the closure and "demapping" of Fifth Avenue?

In my article in this week's Brooklyn Downtown Star, Closing Fifth Avenue for Atlantic Yards, But Why So Soon?, I expand on my previous coverage of the plan to close Fifth Avenue between Flatbush and Atlantic avenues to accommodate Frank Gehry's flagship Miss Brooklyn skyscraper.

I contacted the Department of Transportation (DOT) four times to ask about the timing of the closure--why so soon, by May 27?--given that the construction schedule will inevitably be delayed by litigation. I also asked whether the street could actually be demapped by then.

I got an acknowledgement of my query but no answers. (DDDB called it "Closed Streets. Closed Mouths." and linked Jonathan Cohn's photo and graphic below.)

Demapping?

And though a New York City Transit (NYCT) official cited "the closure and demapping of Fifth Avenue," the street can't be demapped until it's been acquired by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

As I write:
So, Chapter 1 of the state Final Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards explains, "ESDC would also acquire portions of the City streets to be closed and City-owned properties through exercise of eminent domain and, with the consent of the City, would override the City Map to permit development on these streets."

But the ESDC isn't ready to do that. The state authority, according to spokesman Errol Cockfield, expects to acquire that segment of Fifth Avenue "once all litigation has been settled." No date has been set, and that would be months, if not years, down the line, not this spring. Then ESDC would have to go through the Eminent Domain Procedure Law.


Questions pending

A NYCT spokesman told me simply that they had to reroute the bus because DOT was closing the street. As noted above, ESDC isn't doing anything just yet. The answers must come from DOT. Others should be asking them questions too.

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