Wednesday, November 21, 2007

From AY to Coney: Kruger becomes "community" advocate

The ironies pile up. Just as the process for development over railyards in Manhattan and Brooklyn raises questions about the process behind the Atlantic Yards approval, so does some news out of Coney Island.

Monday's night's Coney Island Development Corporation information meeting was canceled because of an overflow crowd ready to criticize the Bloomberg Administration's redevelopment plan, as reported by Omar Robau on Kinetic Carnival.

An overflow crowd at the Atlantic Yards public hearing last year meant many interested parties from the immediate neighborhoods were shut out by groups bused in by project supporters. Yes, there were additional "community forums," but they didn't get the same media attention, and many people just gave up. (One forum, of course, was on the day of the primary election.)

Kruger's campaign

The leader of the opposition to the Coney Island plan was State Sen. Carl Kruger, who even said, according to Robau, "This is a backdoor approach to eminent domain!"

(Clearly, the Bloomberg administration didn't hire Forest City Ratner's Bruce Bender, a former Democratic operative in southern Brooklyn, to court Kruger's favor, as the New York Observer pointed out last year. Then again, Kruger is politically malleable; former colleague Seymour Lachman, in his book Three Men In a Room, reported how Kruger, a Democrat, campaigned for Republican Martin Golden in return for new district boundaries that protected his seat.)

According to the Brooklyn Paper, Kruger opposed planning without consultation:
"You made a point tonight, and that is that Bloomberg isn’t going to push his Manhattan plans on Brooklyn without hearing from Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay.”

Among those standing with Kruger, the Brooklyn Paper reported, were "more than a dozen men wearing hats that read, 'The Bloomberg Plan: How much $? How long? Who pays.'" (Who organized them?)

And Kruger alleged that the Coney Island Development Corporation stage-managed the meeting (which the CIDC denies). The Brooklyn Paper reported:
“They blocked the first person that came off the elevator that was not one of their people,” Kruger said. “That sends a clear message about whether they were truly planning a public forum.”

That was alleged to happen last year. When the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods and Community Board 2 Chairperson Shirley McRae questioned the Empire State Development Corporation's oversight of the public hearing, Kruger was not exactly backing them up.

Nor did he raise questions about the project's costs, eminent domain, or the specter of Manhattanization. Rather, it was about "jobs and housing and communities and neighborhoods and children," all wonderful nouns everyone supports, but unmoored from any real analysis. (Full transcript in DDDB's The Unbearable Lightness of Kruger's NIMBYism.)

"What we care about is our communities," he said. It just depends on whose ox is being gored.

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