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August 20, 2006

Disputed Plan in Brooklyn; The State Assembly and Campaign Reform (5 Letters)

New York Times publishes responses to the editorial "The Atlantic Yards Project":

Re “The Atlantic Yards Project” (editorial, Aug. 6):

I live in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, an area that stands to be greatly affected by Forest City Ratner’s development plans. I am surrounded by past Ratner projects: the soulless MetroTech, a business district held afloat by renting to many of the city’s municipalities, and the Atlantic Mall, which was apparently designed in such a way as to prevent people from congregating.

My neighborhood, and those surrounding it, is filled with unique stores, restaurants and interesting and diverse people. I love the opportunity to see the sky above the rooftops and to walk down streets that are not crowded with people.

From what I can see, this area has been developing beautifully on its own. To turn such a massive development project over to the hands of one organization, especially one with the track record of Forest City Ratner, would most surely be a mistake.

Peter LaBrusciano
Fort Greene, Brooklyn

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To the Editor:

Your editorial “The Atlantic Yards Project” does not mention the findings of the state’s recently released environmental impact statement, described elsewhere in the same issue (“Cities Grow Up, Some See Sprawl,” Week in Review, Aug. 6): “According to the state study, however, the project would also create significant traffic and parking problems, require an extra school’s worth of classrooms, and cast shadows over nearby residential neighborhoods.”

Those of us who live nearby recognize the devastating impact this project would have on quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods, unless it is scaled back dramatically.

Cynthia Steele Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

To the Editor:

Only part of the Atlantic Yards area is “underdeveloped,” namely the air rights over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yards. Like SoHo, TriBeCa and Dumbo, much of the acreage sought by Forest City Ratner has experienced incremental revitalization in recent years — until stalled by the developer’s plan.

Increased density and low- and moderate-income housing are desperately needed — the 8.3-acre railyard would be a good site for that. However, density has limits. Even with the 15 percent cut you recommend, the proposed development far exceeds the capacity of the area’s social, environmental and physical infrastructure. The resulting community would be by far the densest in the country, and would be unlivable.

Of the 2,200 hundred units of affordable housing, only 900 would be low-income housing; 900 other “affordable” units would rent for $2,000 or more per month and take 10 years to complete. The subsidies for the housing would be better distributed to developers who could deliver the housing faster, in more livable and sustainable communities.

To say that the area constitutes “blight” since it is publicly controlled is specious. If it remains unchallenged, no community in the state is safe from the arbitrary actions of a private developer with ties to government.

Ronald Shiffman Park Slope, Brooklyn The writer, a professor at the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, was a commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission, 1990-1996.

To the Editor:

Brooklyn has prospered because of its intimate neighborhoods, its historic character and local development. That is the sort of growth that works long term; big boondoggle projects like Atlantic Yards will only kill the thing that made this borough so attractive in the first place.

You are correct that local residents are not happy about this. The astonishing thing is you don’t seem to care.

Malcolm Armstrong Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Posted by amy at August 20, 2006 10:13 AM