Skip to main content

Pleasantville vs. Brooklyn, and other DEIS hearing footnotes

To a great extent, the news coverage of the hearing Wednesday on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) focused on the speakers--both elected officials and citizens--who made it to the podium during the early phases of the seven-hour epic.

That means those who spoke late, or never even had their names called, didn't get the ink. For example, other than in the New York Observer's blog The Real Estate and my blog, the critical yet convoluted comments of the influential Regional Plan Association got no coverage.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn attorney Jeff Baker got no coverage outside of my blog, even though his contention--that a privately-owned arena does not meet the definition of a "civic project"--likely will be part of a major lawsuit. And, as I noted, Community Consulting Services and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC) offered important criticisms about traffic. They were almost completely ignored, though the Courier-Life chain mentioned TSTC.

And reporters who didn't stay until the end didn't capture a potential metaphor: though project proponents for hours had outnumbered opponents, many of the former left earlier to return home, so by the last hour or so, the opponents--most of whom live closer to the hearing (and project) site--dominated the room.

Pleasantville vs. Brooklyn

One lingering rhetorical image involves Pleasantville, a name so white-bread (or irony-laden) that it was the title of a 1998 film set in the world of the 1950s. As the New York Times reported in its story Thursday, headlined Raucous Meeting on Atlantic Yards Plan Hints at Hardening Stances:
Umar Jordan, 51, a black resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, said he had come to “speak for the underprivileged, the brothers who just got out of prison,” and he drew loud cheers when he mocked opponents who had moved to Brooklyn only recently. Mr. Jordan suggested that they “just go back up to Pleasantville.”

The Brooklyn Papers, in a lead story headlined Atlantic Yards hearing pits pro vs. con in historic battle for Brooklyn, fleshed it out:
A man from upstate Pleasantville spoke of traffic, the lack of greenspace and how historic restaurant Gage & Tollner was forced to close a few years back because Ratner “failed to live up to the promises he made at Metrotech.”
He was followed by Umar Jordan, who ridiculed his complaints.
“If you never been in the Marcy projects, you’re not from Brooklyn,” he said. “Go back to Pleasantville.”

The Pleasantville resident, Tal Barzilai, has commented on other redevelopment projects, such as in Lower Manhattan. He emailed me to point out that his town isn't considered upstate; indeed, it's a village in Westchester. Despite Jordan's rhetoric, other than Barzilai nearly all the opponents were residents of Brooklyn, many of them longstanding residents.

The reference to Pleasantville made for good theater, but the comments of Barzilai and Jordan were no more representative than the comments of many others who spoke later or whose names were not called. But they were representative of people who had enough time and fortitude to arrive early in the morning for a hearing that started at 4:30 pm.

When the Final Environmental Impact Statement is issued, it will incorporate acknowledgement of and, in some cases, responses to all the comments made, spoken and written.


  1. You wrote:

    "A man from upstate Pleasantville spoke of traffic, the lack of greenspace and how historic restaurant Gage & Tollner was forced to close a few years back because Ratner “failed to live up to the promises he made at Metrotech.”"

    Come on. My family had a long history of eating at Gage & Tollner's. My father-in-law was a doctor at Brooklyn Hospital and for that reason we went to G&T's from time to time.

    As restaurants go, it was a museum 20 years ago. It was an interesting and enjoyable venue but changing tastes brought about its demise, not Bruce Ratner. It never generated the buzz of Peter Luger's and the crowd shopping the Fulton Mall area lost interest in an old-time steak house.

  2. I was quoting the Brooklyn Papers.

  3. norman, you wrote:

    "I was quoting the Brooklyn Papers."

    I know. But you chose a quote that attempted to impugn Ratner. Instead, it only succeeded in making the speaker look like a dunce.

  4. If I'd thought it was an important criticism of Ratner, I would've included it in my wrapup on Thursday. I was explaining why the name Pleasantville came up.

    There's no doubt that changing tastes (and probably management decisions) were part of G&T's demise. But you did send me to the clip file. Newsday reported 7/12/93:
    "THE 114-YEAR-OLD Gage & Tollner restaurant's experience shows the high hopes merchants on Brooklyn's Fulton Street had when the MetroTech office complex was completed two years ago - and how some of them have been frustrated.

    Chase Manhattan relocated 6,000 workers to offices in MetroTech. The list of the complex' other tenants reads like a "Who's Who" of big New York employers, including Bear Stearns & Co. and Brooklyn Union Gas. But the thousands of new office workers didn't immediately translate into the same number of new shoppers or diners. In fact, the economic recession and the inability to attract MetroTech workers led Gage & Tollner's owners to file for bankruptcy protection in March."


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming + FAQ (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…