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December 6, 2007

Would AY arena be more like Newark or MSG? Brian Lehrer Show raises the issue

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder provides an overview of yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show for those of us who couldn't tune in. Guest host David Cruz moderated a discussion between Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper and Errol Louis of the New York Daily News. The discussion contained more than its fair share of Atlantic Yards misconceptions, particularly on the part of Mr. Louis:

Here's Louis's take on the security issue, and Oder's response:

EL: My sense of it is... the best way to put it, fishing for striped bass, so to speak. Those of your listeners who remember the way the Westway project was killed back in the 1980s was by pushing for what in the end looked like a subsidiary issue, which was whether the Army Corps of Engineers had done an adequate environmental review of the impact of that multi-billion dollar project on the striped bass and the snail darter in the Hudson River. That actually was sufficient for a judge to issue an injunction and kill it. I think the opposition’s tactic at Atlantic Yards has always been three words: delay, delay, delay. They've kind of moved from one issue to another, and they've settled most recently on the security issue that may or may not have any substance to it.

Actually, the security issue, well beyond the question of arena setbacks, was first raised in a 7/22/05 White Paper, and the security issue was raised earlier this year in the pending challenge to the state's environmental review.

And Louis didn't acknowledge that the security issue has drawn concern from elected officials like City Council Members Bill de Blasio and David Yassky and Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Joan Millman, who are not exactly opponents.

Louis elaborates further regarding the exact location of the arena, and Oder comments:

EL: What I’ve heard is a number that is either plucked out of thin air or taken from what recently happened in Newark, but somehow the plans that show part of the arena being 20 feet from Atlantic Avenue and 20 feet from Flatbush Avenue is by the opponents now being declared as inadequate, susceptible to terrorist attacks.... I think it’s a red herring, or a striped bass...

It hasn't been plucked out of thin air; it was revealed belatedly by the developer two weeks ago.

Oder ends his post by addressing another problematic Louis remark:

EL: There's a lot in the project.... There are people who like it a lot because of basketball's status as a secular religion in Brooklyn. There are people like me who don't care about professional sports in general and probably would never go to a game, but like things such as the fact that it will create some jobs and it'll create a lot of housing. There's something there for everybody, and that's kind of the whole point of the project.

Well, a lot fewer jobs than originally promised. It may seem like nitpicking to point this out, but that locution--the project "will create"--obscures the mix of private and public and tax-advantaged support needed.

NoLandGrab: Maybe one of these days, The Brian Lehrer Show could host a discussion that would include both Errol Louis and Norman Oder. That would be great radio.

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Posted by steve at December 6, 2007 7:19 AM