The cameras, most likely, will focus on the conflict, the signs and chants displayed by project supporters and opponents, both outside the venue--and, perhaps, inside. It would be newsworthy if disruptive people are ejected, as the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) promises.
But the news might more concern which elected officials--and candidates--show up, and what they say. There's not much to say directly about the ostensible purpose of the hearing, which concerns, among other things,the plan to pursue eminent domain in two stages rather than one and Forest City Ratner's revised deal with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the Vanderbilt Yard.
Yesterday, the BrooklynSpeaks coalition--which has taken a tougher line on AY while steering clear of litigation organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB)--and several elected officials called for a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to assess the impact of changes to the phasing and design of the Atlantic Yards project.
They expressed concern about indefinite interim surface parking, the delay in providing stormwater management measures to reduce runoff, the reduction in railyard track capacity, the possibility that delayed affordable housing would represent only a small net gain (and at a high price), and the possibility the risk that Atlantic Yards will fail to complete the decking of the rail yards.
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) promises a press conference at 1:30 pm and a protest at 2pm, then another cycle, with a press conference starting at 5:30 and a protest at 6 pm.
Scheduled for the first press conference are Faye Moore, President of Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371; City Council Member Letitia James; State Senator Velmanette Montgomery; Assemblyman Jim Brennan; and Public Advocate candidate (and former DDDB lawyer) Norman Siegel.
Scheduled for the second press conference, so far, is City Council Member Tony Avella, a longshot candidate for mayor.
It will be interesting to see how many elected officials both endorse BrooklynSpeaks's call for a Supplemental EIS and go beyond it.
How many pro-AY elected officials will show up, and what will they say beyond "Build It Now"? Will Borough President Marty Markowitz defend approval of a project that lacks a rendering, a site plan, and a fiscal impact analysis--and which has not been the subject of a security review by the New York Police Department?
And will Council Member Bill de Blasio, last year somewhat critical of the project, maintain his strategic silence in his quest to become Public Advocate?
Surely project supporters will rally as well. ACORN, I'm told, is recruiting supporters to come to a rally at 3:30 pm, asking them to wear red shirts. Here's the carrot: food and drink will be provided at 4 pm.
The second day
Though the New York Times's blog The Local warned yesterday, "Prepare for two days of sound and fury over Atlantic Yards. Significance to be determined later," I suspect that the second day will be pretty quiet, at least during work hours.
Most cameras likely will be gone. Even in 2006, the community forums that followed up the public hearing were relatively calm.
A sidewalk becomes a street
Meanwhile, DDDB points to (right) something brutally weird--the temporary conversion of a Pacific Street sidewalk into a street to accommodate cars as utility work continues nearby. (Click to enlarge)