Thursday, September 03, 2009

Straight from (then) ESDC CEO's mouth: a promise of two community meetings

OK, the production is lousy, but you should get the point. At the June 23 board meeting of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), then CEO Marisa Lago promised not one but two community information sessions, as I wrote August 24.



"Today's meeting is the beginning of the public process that is required for the modification of the General Project Plan," she said. "The public hearing will be preceded by a 30-day notice. If at the public hearing there is adverse testimony, the matter will come back to the directors, and the directors will then be asked to consider the testimony at the public hearing and determine finally whether to finally adopt the amendments to the General Project Plan."

The video above picks up from here: "So this is the first meeting of the ESDC board, to be followed by a public hearing on 30 days notice, a public hearing in the community, and then to be followed by a second ESDC board meeting."

"Knowing the interest in this project, we have committed to have additional community sessions beyond what is required," she continued. "And we will be having a community session--a question-and-answer session in the community--before the public hearing and then another after the public hearing. And at those community sessions, there will be the opportunity for community questions to be answered."

Timing issues

The first hearing was held July 22, with representatives from the ESDC and Forest City Ratner facing some tough questions.

Was that second session supposed to be held before the August 31 deadline for comments or just sometime before the ESDC board meets in September to reconsider the plan?

Lago continued, "So, in total, there will be a multi-month process, in which there will be opportunity for input, and the testimony at the public hearing will be summarized and presented to the directors at a subsequent board meeting."

Though Lago's words weren't precise, the implication was that the community information sessions would help residents formulate input to the ESDC board, including comments at the public hearing and comments submitted in writing.

That means the second session would have to be held before the comment period closed on August 31. It wasn't.

Will it be held before the ESDC board meets on September 17 and, likely, reapproves Atlantic Yards? There's been no announcement about that, nor has the ESDC responded to my most recent query about Lago's pledge.

In other words, the ESDC now seems to be saying: never mind.

Note on method

I digitally recorded the ESDC board meeting. I put a picture of Lago (from the May 29 state Senate oversight hearing) on my computer screen and filmed the screen as the recording played.

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