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April 15, 2007

"No demolition for parking" rally--a platform for issues and ironies

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder previews today's "Rally Against Demolition for Parking". First, he looks at how different groups have approached concerns about Atlantic Yards. Develop Don't Destroy has engaged in lawsuits that, if successful, would halt the project, while Brooklyn Speaks, the rally's sponsor, believes it's better to try and change the project through ongoing dialogue with politicians.

And BrooklynSpeaks, mindful of the difficulty in talking with government entities while suing them, has avoided joining the lawsuit DDDB, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (which includes some BrooklynSpeaks members) and allies have filed to invalidate the project's environmental review.

The rally will include a range of AY opponents:

Still, the rally suggests something of a big tent. The venue, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, is provided thanks to the Rev. David Dyson, a member of the DDDB Advisory Board who has forcefully criticized Atlantic Yards, as in this April 2005 Brooklyn Rail interview.

Among the elected officials scheduled to speak are State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Letitia James, who have expressed much broader opposition to the project. (Others scheduled are Assemblyman Hakeem Jefferies, State Senator Eric Adams, and Council Member David Yassky.) One of the musicians playing will be Pheeroan akLaff, another DDDB Advisory Board member.

Next, Oder goes into detail (a.k.a. "Mad Overkiller mode") to tell the tale of how Prospect Heights could lose the Ward Bakery to demolition only to acquire seven acres of parking lots. Jasper Goldman's (of the Municipal Art Society) quote states the issue simply and broadly:

"The developer calls the lots 'temporary,' because they ultimately plan to build the second phase of the project on top of them. But 'temporary' could become permanent. Even members of the developer’s own team believe that the second phase of the project won’t be built for 15 to 20 years — if it’s built at all."

AYR covers the different justifications for plopping all that parking on Prospect Heights, and sums up what this rally means:

So today's rally, expressing opposition to demolition of the bakery for parking and construction staging is, in essence, an argument for a major redesign and reduction of the project, if not an argument against the arena itself.

NLG: Whatever the justifications given for destroying historic buildings for parking lots that might never go away, community concerns have been routinely ignored by Bruce Ratner & company. All concerned New Yorkers should attend today's rally, whether your opposition to AY is mild or wild.

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Posted by steve at April 15, 2007 8:12 AM