(Photo by Jonathan Barkey. More photos here.)
"No way," responded the group with her, some 200 who walked a route from Freddy's Bar & Backroom at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue to Flatbush Avenue, up Flatbush to Grand Army Plaza, then up Vanderbilt Avenue to the after-party at Soda Bar.
The event raised more than $50,000--more than what was raised two years ago, but seemingly half that raised last year. But the $100,000 figure announced last year, I was told yesterday, actually combined $65,000 from pledges with three major gifts keyed to the event. (Last year there were 300 marchers and 1100 donors; this year, the numbers were 200 and 600, though more pledges are coming in.)
Despite the relative drop-off, DDDB organizers were pleased. "We're well-funded for the coming months," said DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein. DDDB has funded an appeal in the federal eminent domain litigation and a pending case challenging the Atlantic Yards environmental review.
As usual, there was a satirical element. The "unknown ombuddy"--a representative of the ombudsperson the Empire State Development Corporation has yet to hire--appeared at the pre-walk press conference. One marcher had a mask that vaguely resembled the visage of Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner.
Last year's "Brooklyn bride"--a reference to Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry's claim that his Miss Brooklyn tower was inspired by a "Brooklyn wedding"--was joined by two others, and some other walkers just wore veils. They carried signs saying, "The real Brooklyn brides divorce Ratner." (Pictured: Marianne Gunther)
Meeting the house tour
As the group walked up Vanderbilt Avenue, they passed a table where representatives of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Corporation (PHNDC) sold tickets for the biannual Prospect Heights House tour and collected signatures supporting a historic district in the neighborhood.
Though James and marchers with her saluted PHNDC's effort, there was little overlap between the two events. PHNDC is a member of BrooklynSpeaks, which has stayed out of lawsuits and favors a "mend it, don't end it" approach to Atlantic Yards. (For the record, the house tour date was set before the walkathon date.)
The house tour booklet warned that Atlantic Yards "will override New York City zoning regulations, and create enormous additional development pressure on Prospect Heights, a neighborhood already experiencing loss of its historic buildings to developers."
At the closing community party at Soda Bar, Brooklyn singer-songwriter John Pinamonti performed (with harmonica accompaniment) a version of his anti-Atlantic Yards song “The Burrow.” He'll be at Freddy's this Saturday, October 20, performing a set with his full band, beginning at 11 pm.