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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)

An AY governance bill emerges, aimed at 2009

A press conference will be held at City Hall Monday at 10 a.m. to to launch “The Campaign to Reform the Governance of Atlantic Yards,” an initiative to pass new legislation that would reform the governance of the Atlantic Yards project--changes that have been resisted by the Empire State Development Corporation.

The proposed legislation would set into law the governance structure recommended by the BrooklynSpeaks coalition. According to the press release, the Atlantic Yards Governance Act (A11395) would create the “Atlantic Yards Trust” to oversee the project with a board of state and city appointed officials, overseeing policies to mitigate the environmental impact of the project (and recommending additional policies). A “Stakeholders Council” comprised of local residents appointed by local elected officials would advise the Trust.

Goal: 2009

Among those at the press conference will be Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Jim Brennan, and City Council members Letitia James and David Yassky, along with Brooklyn community leaders. Given that the state legislative session essentially ends June 23, it's unlikely that the bill would pass the Assembly in time, much less the Republican-controlled state Senate.

However, the Senate may tip Democratic after this year's elections, and the bill, once introduced, can be considered again, said Jeffries, the legislative sponsor. So it seems that the bill is being announced as an effort to get attention to the issue before it gets serious legislative consideration.

Jeffries, Brennan, and Yassky have all supported aspects of the project, though lately all have become more critical. (Another cosponsor is Assemblywoman Joan Millman.) James is the most prominent political opponent of Atlantic Yards; her support for the bill, which assumes that the project eventually will go forward (though it's stalled for now), suggests she's being pragmatic.

From the bill

The lack of a subsidiary, such as one parallel to the Battery Park City Authority, has its impacts, according to the bill:
The result is that the project is governed in a less transparent, less accountable manner than comparable projects, and without any vehicle for coordinating the city and state agencies involved in the proposed development, or involving local elected officials and the relevant community boards. Further, changes in administration in State government, as well as changes in the ESDC`s internal organization, pose risks to the continuity of project oversight which may threaten the realization of Atlantic Yards` stated goals.


  1. To be effective, the Atlantic Yards Governance Act (should it be called the Vanderbilt Yards Atlantic Avenue Area Governance Act?) is going to need to provide for a fair amount “back to the drawing board” work otherwise there won’t be principled development, community involvement, a good project, or effective negotiation when it comes to subsidies- The old axiom is that you don’t want to lock the barn door after the horse has been stolen- By the same token, we don’t want to appoint a posse whose job it is to sit around on the corral fence rails and admire horse-rustling-thief-Ratner riding off into the sunset.

    What principled development (and effective action) means was expressed as I set forth in 7 enumerated points at that Brooklyn Speaks site at: “Effective Action Needed From Brooklyn Speaks, BHA, etc. - MDDWhite | Mon, 03/17/2008 - 9:10am”

    Among other things it most certainly includes, as one of its starting points, eliminating the unnecessary avenue and street closings which the Municipal Art Society has long been calling for. There would be proper processes without shortcuts circumventing community involvement and ULURP: For instance, this very importantly applies to upzoning and proposed condemnations.

    The current project has gotten bogged down because Ratner is like the little boy trying to get too many cookies out of the jar for himself with a single unrelaxed grasp. Development which proceeded in principled fashion would not have gotten bogged down this way and it would have resulted in something benefitting the community to a substantially greater degree at substantially lowered cost. At the risk of people not clicking on the Brooklyn Speaks site to review the worthwhile supporting reasoning, the key features of what would constitute a principled approach to development covered there are:
    1. There would be no inclusion of the Ward Bakery Block for the sake of eminent domain windfall,
    2. Density would be reduced and set at a more appropriate level
    3. All unnecessary street and avenue closings and takeovers would be avoided,
    4. Valuable additional streets would be created by extending the existing street grid in obvious ways,
    5. Ratner would not be permitted to use the Megadevelopment as an excuse or mechanism to receive no-bid subsidy, instead, the project would be bid out and awarded to multiple developers who could work concurrently to construct it faster and with greater leverage of any public funding provided,
    6. The location of the arena at the site would be scrutinized and the arena subsidy would be cut back to a reasonable level whether or not it is permitted to remain located at the proposed site. In all probability the arena would be relocated elsewhere consistently with Robert Moses’ analysis that congestion would be an insurmountable problem in placing a giant sports complex at this site
    7. The project would be subject to good and well thought through design guidelines

    It is also interesting to note that this sounds like it dovetails well with Senator Richard Brodsky’s ideas about what should be done in terms of developing Manhattan’s West Side in the Hudson Yards, Moynihan Station, Seventh Avenue Subway Extension and perhaps one-day-to-be-demolished Javits Center.

    Michael D. D. White
    Noticing New York


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