Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Status Cuomo": unmet Atlantic Yards oversight means savings to Ratner

Governor Andrew Cuomo, dubbed "Status Cuomo" by his political rivals, seems to have earned that appellation regarding Atlantic Yards.

After all, his administration has merely continued the policy of its predecessors, for example defending the failure to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, even though contracts signed by the state allow a 25-year buildout, rather than the decade predicted.

Job left open, lagging of oversight

Think about it. For four months, the state has left open the community relations position once occupied by Forrest Taylor, then dubbed ombudsman (though he didn't have such power).

Meanwhile, construction noise, dust, and traffic can make life in areas adjacent to the Atlantic Yards construction very trying.

The state agency in charge of the project, Empire State Development, is not only not proactive--as Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, would like to have it--but is not very reactive.

We still don't know why some blocks near the project site were excluded from noise-reduction measures. We still don't know whether and how late-night construction noise might be minimized.

Savings to Ratner

And, come to think of it, the failure to fill that community relations post serves Forest City Ratner.

The developer pays for that job. If it's not filled, Forest City saves perhaps $8,000 a month, including benefits. If it's not filled, Forest City avoids additional oversight and ventilation of community concerns.

From that perspective, the status quo is a win-win.

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