Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Meaningful news on timetable lawsuit and CBA failure, meaningful press avoidance

Was it meaningful that two coalitions of civic groups just asked state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman for a stay on Atlantic Yards construction?

Sure. It's a longshot Friedman will stop the arena, but the petitioners--coalitions organized by Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and BrooklynSpeaks--have to be taken seriously.

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) knew that the project could take 25 years but only studied the impact of the official ten-year construction period.

So the ESDC must either appeal Friedman's stinging November 9 ruling on the project timetable or, more likely, produce a document that claims that a 25-year buildout would create no more burdensome impacts than the ten-year one.

Given the track record of ubiquitous environmental consultant AKRF, which always produces the reports its clients want, it's likely such a document can be finessed.

But it's also likely that document will be highly questionable. After all, the state never studied the impact of an "interim" surface parking lot that could last for decades.

Press avoidance

And publications like the Brooklyn Paper and New York Observer, which readily covered the Forest City Ratner press release last week that steel had arrived at the arena site, have so far ignored the latest story on the lawsuit.

The only news outlet to cover it so far is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, via Ryan Thompson (FCR executive MaryAnne Gilmartin's favorite reporter), who called the decision an "unusual, but possibly meaningless, legal victory."

No, no matter what happens, it's not meaningless.

Journalists and others who think the Atlantic Yards story is ovah simply have closed their minds.

The CBA story

And nobody followed up on my scoop yesterday about how the Community Benefits Agreement was being violated, given that it requires an Independent Compliance Monitor that hasn't been appointed.

Well, maybe the press isn't interested, but those who follow CBAs certainly were. It's another reason why Atlantic Yards is an example to be avoided.

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