Thursday, December 11, 2008

AY fatigue? At CBN's anniversary event, small crowd, two reporters hear call for project audit

Wednesday morning, on the the fifth anniversary of the announcement of the Atlantic Yards project, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods requested the city and state comptrollers to conduct an audit of all public monies spent on the project.

At first, only about a dozen people attended the press conference, including two local activists, Jo Anne Simon and Ken Baer, who are running for the City Council seat currently occupied by David Yassky. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Letitia James were late. Besides myself, only one reporter--a representative of the Brooklyn Paper--was in attendance.

Could it be that the press and public are tired of the Atlantic Yards issue, even as new questions--such as why the state has seemingly let developer Forest City Ratner stall the repairs on the Carlton Avenue bridge--have arisen? The event was held at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, where Forest City Ratner recently tore down two structurally sound row houses, leaving what CBN calls developer's blight and the distinctive outline of a since-demolished house on its neighbor's wall.

(Photo by Jonathan Barkey shows CBN's Jim Vogel speaking.)

“Five years ago the people who lived here said this project would be a disaster for the community,” said Candace Carponter (below, with Patti Hagan at right), co-chair of CBN. “CBN was formed to analyze the project, and all our studies confirmed what many had believed: this project was not only ill-conceived and socially unfair, it was never economically viable. Now Forest City Ratner has stopped all work and is trying to blame legitimate lawsuits that are preventing the disaster from getting worse. It won’t wash.”

CBN has worked with the recently-quiet BrooklynSpeaks coalition on some issues, such as the Time Out rally in May. A number of elected officials have been more comfortable with the "mend-it-don't-end-it" stance of BrooklynSpeaks. But isn't it time for some of them to step up and make sure that the government, not Forest City is in charge of the timetable to repair the bridge?

Excerpts from the letters

CBN wrote:
Forest City Ratner Corporation [sic]has severely blighted the neighborhood with the destruction of valuable housing stock, and buildings that housed light manufacturing, and local industry. Hundreds of residents have been displaced. The Carlton Avenue bridge, a major connection between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, has been closed in preparation for replacement and now has no date for re-opening. This closure is not only inconveniencing and isolating two sister communities, it is endangering Brooklyn residents by adding up to ten minutes to the response time of the fire station that serves those communities which relied on that bridge.

When it was learned last week that Forest City Ratner had halted all work on the project, the ESDC was contacted and asked when the Carlton Avenue Bridge would be returned to the public road grid. Amazingly, the ESDC said it was not their responsibility. They replied to a local resident, “The responsibility for work to construct a new Carlton Avenue Bridge is Forest City Ratner's. No work is being done on the bridge now. Beyond that, I will have to refer you to FCRC on all of your other questions." There have been no transferences of public property to the developer so their disposition is still a public responsibility, yet the Public Authority charged with oversight of this project defers to the private developer.

Most disappointingly, Forest City Ratner has done this damage with the extraordinary monetary support of New York City and New York State.


(Photo by Adrian Kinloch.)

4 comments:

  1. Nobody cares.

    Tish James wouldnt care either if a majority of the voters in her district were in favor of it.

    There are lot bigger issues out there now, like the economy and the need for new construction in the city.

    With the project already approved and supported by key players in the city and state, expect stronger political support, including some more money.

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  2. Mr. W., why don't you sign your own name?

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  3. Many people care that this project be redirected or at least redesigned.

    Everytime I've discussed the AY project people are often under the mistaken belief that their opportunity to raise opposition to it is past. So that may be a contributing factor in low turn out.

    I would've come had I known about it. Is there an email list we could have signed for bulletins?

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  4. you can keep alerted to all activities at:

    http://www.nolandgrab.org

    and

    http://www.developdontdestroy.org

    BrooklynBorn, serious question: why do you think that people think that opportunity has passed? It hasn't. The silent majority needs to end their silence, because the opportunity hasn't passed, not at all. Just see all of the latest news stories.

    Our elected officials, starting with Gov. Paterson need to hear from you and the people you are talking about. Encourage them to do so. Educate them.

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