The four ways FCR could "railroad" (as per New York magazine) the MTA on the value of the Vanderbilt Yard
The key piece is the closing paragraph, in which Smith suggests that the public commentary at the MTA meetings next week will be irrelevant, and implies that efforts by elected officials to have the MTA delay the vote would come to naught.
So it's up to Governor David Paterson, who's been AWOL on AY, with many other things on his plate.
The request by Assemblyman Jim Brennan and colleagues for the MTA to delay its vote got coverage in the New York Observer, Bergen Record, and the online NJ.com (home of the Star-Ledger) but not in any of the three New York City dailies, nor (yet) in any Brooklyn weekly.
Smith writes that the MTA at its finance committee meeting Monday will be “presenting a revised agreement” for the Vanderbilt Yard, and suggests that Monday reveal--rather than at the full board meeting Wednesday--is a response to calls for more transparency.
Smith sketches the picture:
Reduced price: railroad #1
Only the former had been reported. While $10 million a year would mean a lower down payment, it might mean a steadier delivery of the entire $100 million. But why, the MTA must explain, does it think that the segment Forest City Ratner wants is worth only $20 million?
Well, it's already been reported that the permanent railyard would have seven tracks rather than the promised nine tracks. The new railyard was said by FCR to be worth $182 million, but maybe inflation would take it over $200 million. The MTA has not provided a figure on the value of the replacement railyard. Nor has it revealed whether the new permanent railyard would have lesser capacity.
The other two examples: original cost and temporary yard
One of the other examples of "railroading" is simply the deal the MTA originally cut: accepting $100 million in cash for a site appraised at $214.5 million, and not questioning FCR's dubious math on the value of the extras.
The other involves the quality and persistence of the interim temporary railyard at the site. Once, this railyard, with space for 30 fewer cars, was supposed to operate for 32 months before being replaced by the higher-capacity permanent yard.
Now, there are hints--though we can't be sure--that the temporary yard might be delayed much longer and might not ever be replaced.