Friday, September 03, 2010

"Judicial Deference to Unaccountable Agencies, and Reality in the Flatbush Avenue Lane Closure"--or, what's missing in the ESDC response to NY1

I have to admit, when I punched up the title of the law review article cited yesterday, "Urban Redevelopment Policy, Judicial Deference to Unaccountable Agencies, and Reality in Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards Project," I wondered if readers would think it over the top.

After all, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) is, on paper, at least somewhat accountable. And they do answer my questions--not in a very forthcoming way, but they answer.

But they're not accountable.

Consider how, as I've written, the ESDC and Forest City Ratner (FCR) announced in July that the Flatbush Avenue lane closure would be resolved by "early 2012," but three weeks later, FCR said it would be "summer 2012."

The ESDC couldn't explain why.

The NY1 story

Yesterday, NY1 offered a report, Barclays Center Construction Forces Pedestrians Onto the Street:
The original notice said all lanes would be restored by early 2012. Project-watchers were surprised when Forest City Ratner pushed it back to that summer, when the arena is to be finished.

"In the larger scheme, I think it's important as a symbol of the Atlantic Yards project, which is, who's really accountable for the project?" says "Atlantic Yards Report" blogger Norman Oder.

The Empire State Development Corporation, which is accountable for the project, told NY1 its "dedicated in-house team, now under the leadership of a new project manager... has successfully navigated the project... into the first steps of major construction."

Ratner's goal is to get all lanes open as soon, perhaps, as a few months before the arena opens. [This line is verbatim from audio.]
In other words, "beat" the new deadline.

Except there's no explanation for why the deadline was extended. NY1 stated in its article that the ESDC was accountable, but the ESDC quote doesn't answer the question. It's piffle. (Maybe that's why the voiceover stated "that's supposed to be the Empire State Development Corporation.")

Which is why I told the reporter--which didn't make it into the piece--that Atlantic Yards looks more and more like a "private-public project," as stated in the law review article, not a "public-private" one.

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