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September 19, 2006

Reports from the last "Community Forum"

Power Plays (political blog of The Village Voice), Duck! It's Ratner Season in Brooklyn

The first two installments of the public hearings on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project were less than hugely informative—the first, on August 23, quickly deteriorated into a yellfest, while the second, on primary night, was mostly attended by people disguised as empty seats. So yesterday's rubber match promised to be an opportunity to finally weigh reasoned arguments for and against the 8.7-million-square-foot megaproject.

Yeah, right. While reason wasn't entirely absent—except maybe from the carpenter's union honcho who gave Bruce Ratner credit for Smith Street's restaurant row—the arguments were almost entirely of the apples vs. oranges variety. You could peg which side speakers were on by which buzzwords appeared in their first sentence: If they mentioned "jobs" or "affordable housing" they were pro, "traffic" or "scale" and they were con.

ESDCHearing-AYR01.jpgAtlantic Yards Report, At final AY forum, three voids—and some warnings about schools

Yesterday’s third and final public meeting on the Atlantic Yards plan, held by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), was in several ways a rerun of the points raised at the epic Aug. 23 public hearing and the barely-attended Sept. 12 community forum.

Some powerful testimony came from Mary-Powel Thomas, president of the District 15 Community Education Council, which includes part of the proposed AY site. Thomas warned that the DEIS uses two-year-old figures that are already stale. “The Brooklyn High School of the Arts, for instance, is shown at 47% of capacity. But last year a middle school moved into that building,” she said. “The high school is now bursting at the seams, with classes of 34 students.”

Posted by lumi at September 19, 2006 8:25 AM