Thursday, November 08, 2012

Veconi on BUILD and the use of the CBA as a wedge: "The cynicism of this was shattering."

In the wake of the dissolution of Atlantic Yards Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) signatory BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), Gib Veconi writes on Prospect Heights Patch, The First Atlantic Yards Casualties, about the formation of BUILD, in a Forest City Ratner office:
One of the community organizers, Darnell Canada, spoke up. He explained that this was the first organizational meeting of BUILD, whose formation had been announced the week before in a press release from then-Assemblyman Roger Green. “We’re here because we’re going to sign a Community Benefits agreement with Forest City Ratner,” he said. The purpose of the meeting was to decide what to ask for.
"Wait a minute," I said. "We haven’t even heard the pitch. We don’t know what’s going to be built. And we don’t know what’s going to happen to the people who live there now."
"That’s not important, said Darnell. “Where were they when the City cleared people out of Ingersoll Houses? They’ll get what they deserve.”
I looked around. Most of the room, including James [Caldwell] and others I had worked with for years, were nodding their heads. At first I couldn’t believe it, but then I understood. This was all part of the developer’s plan. Forest City was going to use a CBA as a wedge to separate civic leaders residing mostly in outlying neighborhoods from the more affluent residents of the community immediately surrounding Atlantic Yards.
My stomach sank. The cynicism of this was shattering. The people sitting around the table clearly did not perceive the extent to which they were in danger of being horribly abused by the developer. Any firm that would be so brazen in manufacturing support as to stage a “community” strategy session in its conference room would certainly have no qualms about disposing of such support as soon as its usefulness had ended.
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