Monday, October 22, 2007

Security concerns "a new low" or a question of parallelism?

When it comes to whether planned street closings around the Prudential Center arena in Newark have any implication for Brooklyn, it depends which paper you read, apparently.

This week's Brooklyn Paper, in a story headlined Tale of 2 cities: Newark arena closes key streets; Yards next?, offered some skepticism about the Brooklyn plan:
But no matter how good the Brooklyn security plan is, experts dislike the secrecy surrounding it.
“There is a reasonable expectation on the part of the public that they be informed,” said Robert McCrie, a security management professor at John Jay College
“If the public is going to be inconvenienced, they should know, in advance, what is anticipated — and that they have an opportunity to voice their feelings.”


In the Courier-Life

The Brooklyn Paper has taken a tough line editorially on Atlantic Yards and often published critical reportage; neither the city police department, the state, or developer Forest City Ratner would comment. (Forest City had issued a general press statement to other news outlets.)

The latter two did comment to the Courier-Life chain, in an article (not yet online) headlined "Yards as terrorist target: Foes argue massive development poses risks." The article didn't raise the same kind of skepticism, leading off:
Grasping at straws or a real concern for the safety of Brooklyn?
Either way, opponents of Forest City Ratner Companies' Atlantic Yard project were out in colorful force last week declaring the project a terrorist threat.
But FCRC Executive Vice President Bruce Bender countered that "opponents are reaching a new low in their misguided attempts to delay a publicly approved and supported development."


Bender repeated the developer's mantra FCR had worked with security experts, and had plans approved by city experts, and that such matters should not be discussed in public.

(The project may be "publicly approved"--counting the unelected Empire State Development Corporation and the "three men in a room" of the Public Authorities Control Board--but not exactly "democratically approved.")

Still, there's a basic question of parallelism: if streets will close in Newark, shouldn't we know whether officials plan to close streets in Brooklyn--and, if not, what makes the design and security barriers in Brooklyn different?

ESDC spokesman Errol Cockfield said that plans had been reviewed by the police, but that state officials would be happy to meet with community representatives. So maybe it all will be ventilated.

Skepticism on security--elsewhere

The Courier-Life (and very same reporter) took a more skeptical line in another article, headlined Yeshiva, hospital labeled ‘high-risk’ targets - Congressman secures Homeland Security funds for Brooklyn sites
Is it money to bolster security against possible terrorist attacks or fishing Brooklyn’s non-profit waters for potential mayoral votes?
Either way, Rep. Anthony Weiner last week touted his work in helping 12 Brooklyn non-profit and religious institutions get federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants.
...Interestingly, the Yeshiva of Manhattan Beach is located on the fourth floor of Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, 60 West Avenue, which as a separate non-profit entity didn’t receive any money.
Neither Rubin Margules, president of the Manhattan Beach Jewish Center, nor Jerry Greenwald, president of the Yeshiva of Manhattan Beach, returned calls for comment as to what makes the fourth floor of the building a “high risk” terrorist target and not the rest of the building.


So, what makes the planned Brooklyn arena less of a target than the about-to-open arena in Newark? Interestingly, no representatives of the developer nor public officials have yet offered an explanation.

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