After all, Granville ranked higher on the board, was publicly endorsed by the retiring chairperson, Robert Matthews, and, according to attendees at the hearing, gave a better speech.
But Atlantic Yards, though not an explicit theme in the contest, was a thread, with Saunders known as an AY supporter and Granville as something of a skeptic, if not an opponent.
Saunders is a board member of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), a signatory of the AY Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), which brought over 150 people to support the project to the May 29 state Senate oversight hearing.
Saunders, according to three attendees who reported back to me, did not mention Atlantic Yards or her membership in BUILD, but did speak vaguely about the need to bring in a developer to provide affordable housing.
Need for caution
After the Community Board members had filled out their ballots, but while the votes were being tallied, BUILD President James Caldwell spoke during the public comment period. I’m told he contended that Atlantic Yards was inevitable and, should it not be built, there’d be trouble because of the people who weren’t able to get jobs. Some in the audience interpreted that as a veiled threat, though, I’m sure, opinions vary.
CB 8 AY history
The three community boards containing pieces of the AY footprint have sometimes acted in concert--such as protesting that Forest City Ratner overstated their role in the CBA--but Community Board 8, unlike CBs 2 and 6, did not raise questions that amounted to essential opposition to the project.
Rather, during the comment period for the environmental review, CB 8 sent numerous letters of concern from Executive Committee members and area residents to the Empire State Development Corporation.