Wednesday, July 19, 2006

sudden impact

Funny thing. The New York Times reports today on yesterday’s revelations about the environmental impact of the Atlantic Yards development project, a gargantuan commercial/residential/basketball arena/high-rise proposed for 22 acres near Downtown Brooklyn. The article details the massive effect this development will have on the area—traffic jams, parking problems, subway crowding, sewer congestion, giant shadows, the need for new schools—but fails to note the occasion that prompted the release of this 1,400 page study (WNYC reports it at 4,000 pages), or the action that followed.

You see, the developer, Forrest City Ratner Companies, had to commission the impact study through the Empire State Development Corporation in order to get the ESDC to sign off on the project—something that, in spite of all the “impact” that the study suggests, the ESDC did without any public debate.

The Times article neglects to note this—that yet another step has been taken toward the development that no one wants (at least no one who actually lives or works around here). Why the Times fails to report that the Yards project had cleared another hurdle is strange to me. . . after all, the New York Times is a partner with Ratner on another development deal. . . you’d think they’d want to trumpet the “good” news.

Maybe everybody is playing hush, hush, rush, rush.

This report is released at a time when the city’s community boards are off for the summer, and, indeed, the next hurdle, a public hearing, has been scheduled for next month, traditionally a time when New Yorker’s flee for cooler pastures.

What’s the hurry? Besides the benefits of summer stealth, there is an unspoken rush to put a shovel in the ground before the end of the year. You see, barring a global cataclysm, on January 1, 2007, New York State will, by everyone’s assumption, swear in Eliot Spitzer as its next Governor. And, while Spitzer is technically a supporter of the Atlantic Yards development, he is less rah-rah than the current Governor, George (I’m delusional, I think I can get elected President) Pataki. Further, Spitzer has a reputation for scrutinizing things like 1,400 (or 4,000) page official documents a little more closely than the likes of Pataki and his ESDC stooge, Charles Gargano.

Do you find this march to massive (and I mean massive—the residential portion of this development will add 16,000 people to the area, roughly the same size as existing 'hoods neighboring the Yards) development an obscenity? Why not call a New York City or State official and let them know? Call 311 for the Mayor or City Council members. Or, why not call the New York State Attorney General—for that is Eliot Spitzer’s job for another five-and-a-half months—and tell him you’d like him to exert a little of his sizeable influence to slow down the process so that he can have a chance to weigh in on the matter when he assumes the job as the State’s chief executive?

(More New York City content today over at capitoilette.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great points, but does anyone know if any newspaper, public official has ever questioned why SO MUCH land and power is being given to one man, to one company? He's already got metrotech and the hideous atlantic mall...I can't help but think that underneath it all is good old fasioned bribery.

10:22 PM  
Blogger guy2k said...

I'm thinking it's more like "legal bribery"--AKA campaign contributions. I seriously wonder if it's even possible to successfully run for office in New York without dancing for developer money. . . and he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Yet another reason to push for fully public campaign financing.

4:07 AM  

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