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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

Final EIS coming today; will final approval come on Pataki's watch?

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) Board of Directors is scheduled to certify the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) at their meeting today.

After certification, the board must wait at least ten days before approving the Final EIS, the associated General Project Plan, and the Eminent Domain Procedure Law findings. The final step would be a unanimous vote from the state Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), which is controlled by the governor, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

But would it be Republican Governor George Pataki, who leaves office at the end of the year? Developer Forest City has suggested so, with an already-outdated timetable that predicted certification of the Final EIS in the first week of this month and PACB approval before the end of November.

A call for delay

"We can't allow, in the dying days of a defunct administration, a major planning issue voted on," said Pratt Institute planning professor Ron Shiffman, who has called for a time-out on major development projects so they can be assessed by the new administration of Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, a Democrat.

Shiffman spoke last night at a forum on advocacy and community planning, sponsored by the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development. He said he had heard that a PACB vote would be held December 21, though he acknowledged his source was "reasonably good."

"You can compromise on the height of the buildings," Shiffman said. "You can't compromise on the misuse of eminent domain--and we need it. We need some of those tools. And if we do it wrong with Atlantic Yards, we'll create a backlash" against the use of eminent domain.

Hunter planning professor Tom Angotti, offering advice to planning students, said that they'd be challenged to turn around projects like Atlantic Yards.

"It bothers me that, when people talk about Atlantic Yards," he said, "they don't mention the UNITY plan," a community-derived plan for the Vanderbilt Yard of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "The only alternative is cutting down the size of the towers and adding some whistles and bells."