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July 31, 2009

Sparse turnout on Day 2 of hearing on “Ghost Project Plan”; Jeffries, Kruger testify; open mike night for BUILD, unions

Atlantic Yards Report

Sometimes the sequel is even better than the original, like with The Godfather, Part II. And sometimes, it's just a lot less compelling. Here's a case in point.

The second day of the two-day Atlantic Yards hearing held by the Empire State Development Corporation was even more of an anti-climax than the first day.

Without a contingent from ACORN and with only a handful of project opponents, no more than 100 people attended during the 2-5 pm day session and far fewer showed up for the 6-8 pm evening session, leaving a sea of empty seats in the Klitgord Auditorium of New York City Technical College. During the latter, hearing officer Edward Kramer several times paused to go “off the record” before new people showed to testify.

In fact, the hearing at times seemed like open mike night for members of the construction unions and Community Benefits Agreement signatory (and Forest City Ratner-funded) BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), who touted the expected benefits of the project.

By my estimation, fewer opponents and critics attended the two-day hearing than the 130 who attended the June 9 update on AY held at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church in Fort Greene.

While the reasons--location, weather, vacations, belief that the effort was futile?--are unclear, it suggested that, however much residents in the area near the project dislike AY, it’s tougher to get them out. (Still, nearly all candidates for seats in two nearby City Council districts either oppose or are critical of the project and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn mustered a vigorous press conference/rally before the hearing Wednesday.)

Some telling testimony

Still, some telling testimony was lodged by project opponents, including Patti Hagan of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition, who called the Modified General Project Plan under consideration a “Ghost Project Plan” because it lacks a site plan, renderings, and a current financial analysis.

Michelle de la Uz of the Fifth Avenue Committee, ramped up previous criticism, said the benefits promised came at much too high a cost: "I believe this project is flawed beyond belief, and ESDC would be wise in stopping this miscarriage in its tracks."

article [with video]

NoLandGrab: Certainly more opponents of the project would've shown up had they felt the whole thing wasn't just one big charade. Better to walk softly, and carry a big lawsuit.

Posted by eric at July 31, 2009 11:32 AM