Nor was it the general absence of political and community supporters of the project--though footage of "Build It Now" counter-protestors assembling does appear early in the film.
Such ambivalence represents the closing words of the film. "We just gotta be heard," utters a man pictured in the Dean Street Playground near the project site. "Go Brooklyn Nets.... Slow down, Bruce Ratner, we still here, man. That's all. That's all."
Of course, Ratner is slowing down, for reasons other than community concern, but the arena can't be decoupled from a project that grants Ratner control of 22 acres, a "great piece of real estate," in the words of his cousin Chuck Ratner, CEO of parent Forest City Enterprises.
And, however much it might be convenient to walk to a game or a concert, as one interviewee suggests, the impact of indefinite interim parking lots and indefinite construction--remember, the project would take "decades," admits CEO Marisa Lago of the Empire State Development Corporation--might make life in the neighborhood not-so-pleasant.
Overview and more
The producers of the film manage a decent mini-overview of the project via text superimposed on screen, rather than a narrator.
"In my case, he's going to move me, and then move me back into the development at the same rent," declares Joe Pastore, a crusty Dean Street resident who once was a plaintiff challenging the project. "We're going to see if he keeps his promise."
Eminent domain and more
Several elected officials are shown--while an ominous underlying soundtrack plays--speaking at the "Time Out" rally held May 3 of last year. "You were so right," declares State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. "It's not a done deal."
“We’re here not because we’re anti-progress,” asserts Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. “We’re here today because we're pro-democracy.”
“There is one plain truth here," trumpets City Council Member David Yassky. "The community has never had its say in this project."
"I want the developer to respect this community," warns James. "I want to see real jobs and real affordable housing."
A year ago, perhaps, project supporters might have rebutted James by saying that, whatever the criticisms of Atlantic Yards, it would supply at least some jobs and affordable housing. Given the attenuated and still-unclear timetable, that argument is tougher to make.
What should be built? "Something a bit more natural and reasonable," says a resident of the footprint, who's also pictured--amidst Dean Street construction--how those in his building and another are in court trying to keep from losing their apartments.
"The quality of life may not be there after this project," acknowledges Triangle Sports' Shapiro. (Without seeing the complete interview, I'm not clear exactly on his stance.)
"For them to come and run us out of here, change it, and rearrange the neighborhood," utters another. "We welcome the stadium, but the rest of the community, don't take from us."
Then comes the final speaker, welcoming the Nets but warning about Ratner.
I'm not sure how much the film serves as a lesson to other communities facing development pressures, given that, for example, there's no explanation of the role of the Empire State Development Corporation, no discussion of the controversy over blight, and only brief mention of "benefits" to the community, without analysis of the controversial Community Benefits Agreement.
But it does convey some memorable sights and sounds during the course of an epic controversy.