Thursday, February 19, 2015

Despite questions about Buffalo resident joining AY CDC board, ESD approves change to enable new CEO

After sitting through hours of testimony from South Bronx residents opposing the state's subsidy for Fresh Direct's move from Queens--really, they were in danger of going to NJ?--the board of Empire State Development this morning was predictably uninterested in discussing a seemingly minor change to the authorization for the new Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC).

But there was one interesting connection between the two agenda items. As angry South Bronx residents left the board room at 633 Third Avenue in Manhattan, one castigated the board, saying, "you don't live in the community, you don't have a right" to decide.

That, in fact, was the issue when the Marion Phillips III, ESD executive and president of the AY CDC, brought up the change that would lift the New York City residency requirement in the case of the agency CEO.
 In this case, CEO Kenneth Adams, a Brooklynite, is being replaced by Howard Zemsky, a Buffalo developer.

Public comments

Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association, which represents residents very close to the project site, made a logical though contextually quixotic argument: given that the advisory AY CDC is supposed to bring focus to the project and advise the ESD board, it was hardly helpful to add a Buffalo resident.

"We need the board to be as effective as it can be," Krashes said. "The residency requirement is not an arbitrary condition." (I wasn't there, but watched the web cast.)

Putting aside the redundancy issue--why exactly should ESD staffers/executives advise themselves?--Krashes pointed out that Adams actually has an independent knowledge of Atlantic Yards.

He also pointed to the history of distrust regarding ESD and reiterated the block association's request that the AY CDC have access to documents and meetings regarding project oversight.

Brief discussion and a guess

Board member Joyce Miller had one question, asking if the ESD president would be Chair of AY CDC. That's the current case, Phillips said, but Adams said it was up to the governor.

After that, the motion carried, with no further discussion.

It may be that the Chair of the AY CDC will not be Zemsky. If so, the other ESD executive, Joe Chan, is the most likely case.

The Dean Street letter

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:08 PM

    There is nobody at EDC that lives in the Bronx. What's most astute from this comment is the former ousted Bronx Economic Development President, Ray Salaberrios, who resides in New Rochelle wasn't even in the room to advocate, as he now as some political appointed gig at this agency, but nobody really knows what he does. It's really not right on many levels that this agency continues to ignore the residents of the Bronx and do what ever they want. The Bronx BP is so up the behind of Cuomo that he also has ignored this issue to deaf ears.