Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Groups receiving FCR aid say more positive stories should be written about FCR's project

An article appearing in last week's issue of the Courier-Life chain read a bit like something out of The Onion, if you read between the lines.

The article, headlined Yards proponents: Leave Bruce alone, began by casting Forest City Ratner and its partners as the underdog:
Local supporters of the Atlantic Yards project charged last week that the community is being choked out of any positive coverage occurring between developer Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and the local community.


Well, "the community" isn't being choked, because it's hard to define what exactly "the community" is. Yes, most of the coverage lately has been critical, but that could be attributed to the understanding that, while many arguments have been made in favor of jobs and housing, elected officials have become more concerned about arena security and even Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff acknowledges that the process was inadequate.

Paging the CBA

The article says supporters point out that the developer "has thus far lived up to their end of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signed with seven organizations."

The article quotes Charlene Nimmons, "who signed the CBA on behalf of the New York City Housing Authority Tenants Association." Actually, there's no such citywide group; rather, there are local tenant associations.

Nimmons represents a created-for-the-CBA group, Public Housing Communities, involving certain housing authority tenant associations in Brooklyn. (This appears to be their web site, but there's no content, so it's not very helpful.)

Nimmons cited a "FCRC-sponsored Economic Resource Fair" that her organization hosted, helping more than 40 people register for job training, job opportunities, and high school degrees.

While such an effort certainly is positive, it doesn't exactly justify the Atlantic Yards project. After all, the cost is a negligible part of FCR's expenses and such resources can also be provided by other organizations.

And let's not forget that all of the CBA signatories supported the project, unlike the CBA model pioneered in Los Angeles. And that CBA events have tended to be invitation-only rather than open to the public.

Praise from Rev. Daughtry

The article concludes:
Another CBA signatory, Rev. Herbert Daughtry from the House of Our Lord Church, 413 Atlantic Avenue, said FCRC has thus far lived up to all the terms of the CBA regarding health initiatives.

Daughtry, whose organization is spearheading the drive to put a health/intergenerational facility within the project as per the CBA, said FCRC has sponsored meetings with local doctors and health care workers to address health issues in the community.

FCRC has also agreed to allow 10 community-related events a year at the new arena once it's built, with all proceeds going to enhancing community programming, said Daughtry, adding FCRC has also agreed to form a community foundation with the money allocated to the community.

"We made it very clear that whatever amount of money is raised, a percentage will go to people in the community having the severest crises and a [sic] another percentage to people doing prison work," said Daughtry.

"We have had no problems with them (FCRC) at this point and don't anticipate we will have any," said Daughtry.


What meetings? What issues? How much might be raised? And how much money is Daughtry, along with other CBA signatories, being paid? He wouldn't say. And Forest City Ratner has been vague or refused to answer.

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