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November 16, 2006

Mad Overkiller Overkills Self

We know that Norman "the Mad Overkiller" Oder writes faster than most people read, but yesterday he outperformed even himself by plunging into Chapter 24, "Response to Comments on the DEIS," and digesting a large chunk of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Oder posted his observations and analysis along the way.

[For those of you who haven't even figured out where to get your own copy of the FEIS, it can be downloaded from the Empire State Development Corporation's web site.]

Here's the breakdown of the Mad O's work from yesterday evening, which is also, coincidentally, a short list of what the mainstream media hasn't covered:

ESDCBlight.jpgAre the MTA or NYC responsible for upkeep of the railyards? ESDC punts
Several people commented to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that the MTA railyards can't be considered blighted because its upkeep is the state's responsibility.

AYR calls the ESDC's response a punt, but it sounds more like a shrug:

Chapter 1, “Project Description,” and Chapter 3, “Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy,” describe in detail the present condition of the project site, including the Vanderbilt Yard.

NoLandGrab: In other words, it is what it is (which also depends on what "IS is").

ESDC: AY site blighted, because we say so

Despite common-sense comments offering evidence to the contrary, the ESDC insists the project footprint is blighted:

Although neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights continue to experience residential and commercial growth, conditions on the project site have remained largely unchanged over the past several decades.

DeanStPlayground.jpgHow to fix a noisy playground? Build toilets

From the Mitigation chapter of the Final Environmental Impact Statment:

There would be significant adverse noise impacts at the Dean Playground from construction activities. The project sponsors have committed to working with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to work with DPR’s planned improvements to the Dean Playground. This commitment would partially mitigate a temporary noise impact on the playground due to construction activities.

The "mitigation" for the additional noise — which according to the DRAFT Environmental Impact Statement would be permanent because of increased traffic on Dean St. — is... ("envelope please") a Little League baseball field and toilets!

Shadows in your backyard? You're SOL

Several comments were received by the ESDC concerning how the shadows would negatively impact the environment. The ESDC's comment:

Streets, sidewalks and private backyards are not considered sun-sensitive resources or important natural features according to the CEQR Technical Manual.

DOE, Ratner agree on new school, “but it’s really not enough”

Norman Oder reports on Mary-Powel Thomas's assessment of the plans to add a public school to the Atlantic Yards project. The president of District 15's Community Education Council acknowledged the need for more classroom space, but challenged the analysis of the current capacity in nearby schools and points out that, even by the ESDC's analysis, there would still be a shortfall of around 1,100 desks for elementary school students at Atlantic Yards.

SouthElev-sm.jpgSorry, Marty: "Miss Brooklyn" would dwarf the Willy B

Borough President Marty Markowitz has called for the tallest building in the Atlantic Yards project, the 620-foot "Miss Brooklyn," be reduced so as not to trump the venerable Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, which is 512 feet.

He hasn't gotten his wish. Unless there's a tactical concession in the wings--and maybe there is--the response in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) gives as thorough an explanation as possible. The explanation: another sort of tall building could block views, it would be too expensive to move the "Miss Brooklyn" (which has been modified somewhat), and the acknowledged significant adverse impact would be mitigated by new views of Frank Gehry's skyline. (Click to enlarge)

Building a better superblock: FEIS defends AY
Norman Oder posts the ESDC's lengthy response to critics who warn that closing streets to create superblocks is a proven failure of urban-planning orthodoxy past.

AY office jobs: from 10,000 to... 375
We covered this yesterday, but it bears repeating. Plus, Norman Oder has added this lead.

It sounded like a nice round number. When the Atlantic Yards project was announced, it was promoted as providing space for 10,000 office jobs. Now, after further cuts in the size of the project, it would provide space for only about 1340 jobs--and likely only 375 new jobs.

PostageStamp.gifMain Lawn grows to... 1/3 of an acre
The Atlantic Yards "Main Lawn" started off life on the drawing board at a whopping 1/4 acre. In response to the need for more open space, it has been expanded to 1/3 acre, which makes it fit nicely on a postage stamp.

NoLandGrab: To the open-space whiners, Ratner never promised you a rose garden — it's called the "MAIN Lawn," not "GREAT Lawn!" Which begs the question, how small are the other lawns?

Posted by lumi at November 16, 2006 8:21 AM