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October 20, 2005

Eric McClure, Park Slope Neighbors, Alternatives & Quality of Life


My name is Eric McClure. I am a resident of Park Slope, Brooklyn, and I’m here representing a community organization called Park Slope Neighbors.

Earlier this year, we collected more than 2,000 signatures from area residents on a petition protesting the absence of any real community involvement in the development of the Vanderbilt rail yards.

Our petition was addressed to the elected officials representing Park Slope. Since, however, the State, has taken control of this project - undermining our representatives’ ability to influence it – I am here today to present the ESDC with copies of those signed petitions.

The 2,000+ people who signed on asked for three things:

First, that the rail yard property be disposed of in a truly open and competitive bidding process. Thanks to the sham perpetrated by the MTA, that one’s already out the window.

Fortunately, though, you still have the chance to address the two remaining demands.

Our petition asks that alternative proposals for the site be given full and thorough consideration. In addition to the project and a No-Action scenario, the EIS must consider the UNITY and Extell plans as alternatives. The UNITY plan was created with significant, broad-based community input, and Extell’s proposal is a financially viable, lower-density alternative backed by an experienced New York City developer.

Our petition also demands that the quality of life of the surrounding neighborhoods be protected from the negative effects of massive development over and around the rail yards.

These encompass adverse effects on traffic, parking and transit, pollution, and noise, and strains on police, fire and educational services, many of which have not been adequately addressed or provided for in the Draft Scope of Analysis.

More specifically, the EIS must analyze, study and disclose the following:

-The EIS must expand the study radius to two miles in order to encompass the East River crossings, access points to the Gowanus Expressway and BQE, and Grand Army Plaza; it must be integrated with other area traffic studies; it must analyze the spillover effects of traffic onto residential streets; and it must weigh Manhattan-style parking zoning, residential parking permits, and transportation-specified event ticketing.

-It must analyze the mitigation effects of tolls at the East River crossings; congestion-pricing programs; event transportation plans like those developed by Gameday Management Group; and traffic-calming measures that will ensure the safety and easy access of pedestrians and cyclists in and around the project area.

Additionally, the Draft Scope states that “a public health analysis may be warranted.” The area surrounding the proposed development is already afflicted with one of the highest asthma rates in the nation. A public health analysis is more than warranted. The EIS must include a detailed analysis of the effects of air pollution, noise and hazardous materials.

If and when ground is broken for this project, there will be no turning back, no second chances. The surrounding community will feel its effects for decades. Nothing less than the future of Brooklyn depends on a thorough, comprehensive and effective EIS – and that rests in your hands.

Eric McClure
Atlantic Yards Campaign Coordinator
Park Slope Neighbors
423 4th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215


Posted by lumi at October 20, 2005 10:11 AM