Monday, December 07, 2009

Did Planning Commissioner Burden leak the "hangar" rendering? FOIL request stymied

So, was it really Amanda Burden, chairperson of the New York City Planning Commission, who leaked images of the Ellerbe Becket arena design (aka "hangar") of the Brooklyn arena to the New York Times?

The leak led to a scathing review by architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff and the subsequent hiring of trendy architecture firm SHoP to put a facade on the same building, generating two cheers from Ourossoff.

In June, Crain's blamed Burden, citing anonymous sources. But my Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request to the Department of City Planning (DCP) couldn't confirm it.

FOIL response

The response to my FOIL request regarding arena designs produced several documents, most of which had already been made public, such as renderings and newspaper articles. (The main exception was a rendering of the arena interior.)

The rest of the documents were innocuous emails concerning, for example, the logistics of meetings.

Surely there was more--but I didn't get it. From the DCP letter to me (click on graphic to enlarge):
Responsive records which are being withheld... consist of intra-agency emails reflecting staff opinions or deliberations.
Another FOIL stonewall

Last week, the Brooklyn Paper reported on its own FOIL stonewall:
This week, the Empire State Development Corporation used that argument in denying The Brooklyn Paper’s “Freedom of Information Law” request for details about how the agency determined that Daniel Goldstein’s three-bedroom apartment on Pacific Street is worth $510,000 — $80,000 less than the Atlantic Yards opponent paid for it six years ago.

“Certain responsive materials which were prepared in anticipation of litigation are exempted from disclosure,” the agency said in a formal FOIL rejection letter to The Brooklyn Paper.

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