Sunday, August 31, 2008

From the DEIS hearing: unheeded wisdom regarding the economic claims

This week AYR will look back at the 8/23/06 hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), drawing on the official transcript.

Late in the hearing, two women with the same first name offered some useful but unheeded wisdom about validating the economic claims behind Atlantic Yards.

MS. KATE GUINEY: My name is Kate Guiney. And I'll be very, very brief. I just want to publicly request that Alan Hevesi, the State Comptroller, audit the proposed Atlantic Yards project by --

(Audience participation.)

MS. KATE GUINEY: -- Forest City Enterprises. I think that the financial numbers and the environmental impact conclusions that we have heard or read about are so widely divergent; we've heard so many different numbers from so many different angles, that I think an audit by a comparatively unbiased party is in order. Thanks.

Questioning the numbers

MS. KATE GALASSI: My name is Kate Galassi. I'm 21 years old and I've lived on Pacific Street for my whole life.

...The benefits laid out in detailed numbers in the DEIS rely on assumptions about new residents coming from outside of the city, about all retail and office space being filled immediately, about Nets fans coming from out of state and a certain number of Nets players living one the city.

These seemingly small assumptions are the fundamental foundation of the promised benefits to the City and the State. Yet, it is not hard to imagine circumstances in which several of these assumptions might play out differently in reality. Once the foundation falters, the whole facade of economic benefit begins to crumble.

Often important assumptions appear in [FCR consultant Andrew] Zimbalist's report, but are absent from the DEIS, misleading the public. If there is solid evidence to back up these claims, it is not presented in the DEIS.

Without this evidence it is unreasonable for the public to believe in the promises made by Forest City Ratner.

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