Thursday, October 25, 2007

BrooklynSpeaks issues FAQ re oversight proposal

BrooklynSpeaks has issued an FAQ regarding its proposal for new oversight entities regarding Atlantic Yards. Some excerpts and comments.

1. Is this proposal an attempt to stop or slow down the Atlantic Yards project?
No. Regardless of what is built on the Atlantic Yards site, a structure for accountable governance and meaningful community input is needed.


No doubt, but BrooklynSpeaks members/sponsors also believe that the current project "must be changed substantially or rejected."

Continuity

Creating a “Project Oversight Entity” would also provide continuity of governance over the project as newly elected officials replace those originally involved in the project, or in the event that the developer sells its interest in the project to a third party.

Also, the project will probably take several decades, says BrooklynSpeaks, and could change according to market conditions, architectural tastes, construction costs, and ownership.

Maybe litigation too. Could Forest City Ratner dump part of Atlantic Yards as quickly as former executive Jim Stuckey was whisked out of the picture? It's not out of the question.

Who's in charge?

6. Isn’t Atlantic Yards a privately-led development? Why should it be necessary for it to have a government-run oversight entity?

Atlantic Yards is a State project. The construction of the project will involve the exercise of State powers, including the override of local zoning and potentially the use of eminent domain, and the project will be built pursuant to a General Project Plan developed and administered by the State, in accordance with the UDC Act of 1968. Notwithstanding the substantial role of a private developer in the project, the BrooklynSpeaks sponsors believe that the use of these State powers, and the magnitude of public funds for the project, require that public oversight and involvement in the project be maximized.


As I reported in August, the ESDC's Errol Cockfield suggested a distinction, that LDCs—local development corporations—have more typically been created for projects in which a governmental entity has taken the lead. However, Atlantic Yards, he said, is more comparable to a project like the Columbia University expansion, in which a nongovernmental private entity has taken the lead.

The amount of public funds, however, is significant.

Some pols sign on

The FAQ states:
The governance reform proposal has been endorsed by the following elected officials: Council Members Letitia James and David Yassky; Assembly Members James Brennan, Joan Millman and Hakeem Jeffries; State Senators Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery. Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, has also stated that he believes a vehicle for community input is essential

That doesn't mean Markowitz has endorsed this proposal. The group above is a reasonably big tent, however, since it includes AY opponents like James as well as more lukewarm supporters. But the group must grow to have more of an impact.

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