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June 28, 2005

DDDb Press Release: Ratner’s So-called “Community” Benefits Agreement Bypasses Community and Local Elected Officials

"CBA" is Insufficient Band-aid on a Fatally Flawed Development Proposal and Process

BROOKLYN, NY– Four days after a sharply divided Supreme Court decision, perceived to give a green light to Forest City Ratner’s (FCR) use of eminent domain for its private, for-profit, 20 high-rise and arena development proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, the developer announced a so-called Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) with eight signers.

“There are 48 known community organizations (*see below) and three of the district’s four elected officials who are opposed to or very deeply concerned about the FCR proposal,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman, Daniel Goldstein. “None of these groups have been involved in the ‘CBA’ negotiations, while all of the groups that have been involved have supported the project from the beginning. Those most directly affected by the proposed project have not been involved either. What was announced today may be an agreement, but it is patently not a community agreement.”

The “CBA” concerns itself, primarily, with jobs and housing. Any developer who builds on the Atlantic Yards should negotiate with the community. However this “CBA” is extremely weak and lacking because it has excluded all the concerns that deal with community quality of life which will effect everyone in the area: building scale, character and density, land use, secondary displacement, eminent domain, environmental impact during and after construction, health issues, project urban design and serious traffic and transportation issues–even though these are major concerns of the five communities surrounding the proposed development site. The State approval process also includes no genuine opportunity for community input.

The Ratner “CBA’s” very foundation is in violation of a key principle of effective CBAs–they are meant to be the end result of a negotiation process between the developer and a wide spectrum of community groups opposed to, and supportive of, a development proposal. But in this case, all oppositional and most longstanding community stakeholder groups were excluded from the outset.

“An insufficient band-aid like this 'CBA' does not cure any of the ills of the Ratner proposal or make up for the utter lack of an accountable, democratic process. A ‘community’ benefits agreement that excludes most of the community, ignores serious impact concerns, is negotiated behind closed-doors, and accepts eminent domain that disrupts the bedrock foundation of communities–homes and businesses–is dangerous and destructive to communities,” Goldstein concluded. “And the timing of the Ratner ‘CBA’, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision–a decision that raises serious questions about the legality of using eminent domain for the FCR project–leads us to believe that Mr. Ratner is not intent on genuinely engaging the community but would rather steamroll it with his $1.6 billion taxpayer subsidized, sweetheart deal.”

For more information on CBAs–Community Benefit Agreements: Making Development Projects Accountable by California Partnership for Working Families and Good Jobs First: www.dddb.net/cbahandbook2005.pdf

  • Organizations that are Opposed to or Deeply Concerned about the proposed Forest City Ratner Nets Arena, 20-highrise Proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

  • 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement

  • Boerum Hill Association (BHA)
  • Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID)
  • Committee For Environmentally Sound Development
  • Creative Industries Coalition (80 local businesses, galleries and collectives)

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Coalition, www.dddb.net/position.php, comprised of: 6. Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association (AABA) 7. Boerum Hill For Organic Development 8. Brooklyn Bears Community Garden 9. Brooklyn Vision 10. Cambridge Place Action Coalition
11. Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Inc. (DDDb)
12. East Pacific Block Association
13. Fans For Fair Play
14. Fort Greene Association (FGA)
15. Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG)
16. Kings County Greens
17. New York Preservation Alliance
18. North Brooklyn Greens
19. Park Slope Greens
20. Revel Arts
21. South Portland Block Association
22. Times Up!
23. Warren St. Marks Community Garden

*Downtown Brooklyn Leadership Coalition (DBLC), comprised of: * 24. Black Veterans for Social Justice (Job Masharaki) 25. Church of the Open Door (Rev. Mark V.C. Taylor) 26. Brooklyn Christian Center (Rev. Dennis Dillon) 27. Brown Memorial Baptist Church (Rev. Clinton Miller) 28. Emmanuel Baptist Church (Rev. Anthony L. Trufant) 29. Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church (Rev. Patrick Perrin) 30. Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church (Rev. David Dyson) 31. Old First Reformed Church (Rev Daniel Meeter)

  1. Good Jobs New York
  2. Kings County Affiliate, Libertarian Party of New York
  3. National Taxpayers Union
  4. NYCBasketball.com
  5. Park Slope Civic Council
  6. Park Slope Neighbors
  7. Pratt Area Community Council (PACC)
  8. Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development (PICCED)
  9. Prospect Heights Action Coalition (PHAC)

Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), www.phndc.org/about.php comprised of: 41. The Prospect Heights Association 42. The Park Place/Underhill Avenue Block Association 43. The Prospect Place Block Association 44. The Prospect Heights Parents Association 45. The Eastern Parkway Block Association

  1. Senior and Retirees Committee of Willoughby Walk Cooperative Apts.
  2. Sierra Club, Atlantic Chapter
  3. The Fifth Avenue Committee

Posted by lumi at June 28, 2005 6:58 AM