Friday, August 24, 2007

ESDC says it's not not-hands-on, but could it do more?

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) is indeed a little touchy about whether it's perceived as not-hands-on-enough regarding Atlantic Yards.

Last week, the ESDC issued out a statement:
ESDC Chairman Pat Foye never told the New York Observer that he was taking a hands-off approach to the Atlantic Yards project. The paper is running a clarification in its next edition.

ESDC has been thoroughly engaged with the community on this project. Our representatives have met with elected officials, community leaders, and even project opponents.

What Foye sought to convey to the Observer is that unlike the government-led projects our agency is shaping right now, Atlantic Yards was approved before this administration and is led by a private developer in partnership with government actors. Despite that distinction, ESDC - under its new leadership - has and is taking steps to closely monitor the project and address community concerns as it gets built.


This week's Observer noted:
Clarification: An Aug. 20 article ["Easy Does It for Pat Foye"] stated that Patrick Foye, downstate chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, "has previously explained to reporters that he has not taken as hands-on an approach" with Atlantic Yards as with the Javits Center and Moynihan Station projects. Mr. Foye has said that he has taken a different approach, as explained elsewhere in the article, but does not characterize it as any less vigorous.
(Emphasis in original)

The ESDC's effort regarding AY may be no less vigorous than regarding other projects, but the agency is vulnerable to criticism that it is less vigorous than it could be. For one thing, Foye was supposed to take a walking tour of the AY footprint in March; as far as I know, that hasn't occurred.

And, however much the ESDC wants to be careful in choosing an ombudsperson, the clock has already hit 108 days. While the current administration isn't responsible for the timetables of its predecessor, Brooklynites weren't given the same kind of slack in responding to the voluminous Draft Environmental Impact Statement. It was issued 7/18/06; comments were due little more than two months later, on 9/29/06.

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