Tuesday, July 24, 2007

ESDC: AKRF's work for Ratner was disclosed

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) has offered a statement to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle about the role of environmental consultant AKRF, which, as I reported last week, worked for Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner before beginning an environmental review that has cost nearly $5 million (paid for by the developer via the state).

The ESDC's statement: “AKRF’s limited work for Forest City Ratner was disclosed to the board at the Sept. 2005 board meeting at which AKRF was hired. Once AKRF was hired by ESDC, its work for Forest City Ratner stopped.”

What's the policy?

It remains in question, however, whether the disclosure is sufficient to have confidence that AKRF's work would be in the public interest or in the interest of its former client.

I had asked the ESDC what its policy is; in other words, how "limited" must work be and what's a sufficient time gap? After all, Philip Habib & Associates was a subcontractor for AKRF on the environmental review and apparently did more work for Forest City Ratner; Habib was listed as a consultant in the developer's May 2005 bid for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

It's also odd that the ESDC didn't see fit to issue any statement to me, given that I asked more than once for comment and gave the agency sufficient lead time.

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