At first, only about a dozen people attended the press conference, including two local activists, Jo Anne Simon and Ken Baer, who are running for the City Council seat currently occupied by David Yassky. State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Letitia James were late. Besides myself, only one reporter--a representative of the Brooklyn Paper--was in attendance.
Could it be that the press and public are tired of the Atlantic Yards issue, even as new questions--such as why the state has seemingly let developer Forest City Ratner stall the repairs on the Carlton Avenue bridge--have arisen? The event was held at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, where Forest City Ratner recently tore down two structurally sound row houses, leaving what CBN calls developer's blight and the distinctive outline of a since-demolished house on its neighbor's wall.
(Photo by Jonathan Barkey shows CBN's Jim Vogel speaking.)
“Five years ago the people who lived here said this project would be a disaster for the community,” said Candace Carponter (below, with Patti Hagan at right), co-chair of CBN. “CBN was formed to analyze the project, and all our studies confirmed what many had believed: this project was not only ill-conceived and socially unfair, it was never economically viable. Now Forest City Ratner has stopped all work and is trying to blame legitimate lawsuits that are preventing the disaster from getting worse. It won’t wash.”
CBN has worked with the recently-quiet BrooklynSpeaks coalition on some issues, such as the Time Out rally in May. A number of elected officials have been more comfortable with the "mend-it-don't-end-it" stance of BrooklynSpeaks. But isn't it time for some of them to step up and make sure that the government, not Forest City is in charge of the timetable to repair the bridge?
Excerpts from the letters
Forest City Ratner Corporation [sic]has severely blighted the neighborhood with the destruction of valuable housing stock, and buildings that housed light manufacturing, and local industry. Hundreds of residents have been displaced. The Carlton Avenue bridge, a major connection between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene, has been closed in preparation for replacement and now has no date for re-opening. This closure is not only inconveniencing and isolating two sister communities, it is endangering Brooklyn residents by adding up to ten minutes to the response time of the fire station that serves those communities which relied on that bridge.
When it was learned last week that Forest City Ratner had halted all work on the project, the ESDC was contacted and asked when the Carlton Avenue Bridge would be returned to the public road grid. Amazingly, the ESDC said it was not their responsibility. They replied to a local resident, “The responsibility for work to construct a new Carlton Avenue Bridge is Forest City Ratner's. No work is being done on the bridge now. Beyond that, I will have to refer you to FCRC on all of your other questions." There have been no transferences of public property to the developer so their disposition is still a public responsibility, yet the Public Authority charged with oversight of this project defers to the private developer.
Most disappointingly, Forest City Ratner has done this damage with the extraordinary monetary support of New York City and New York State.
(Photo by Adrian Kinloch.)