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July 25, 2009

The big news was the informational meeting, but the media mostly missed it

Atlantic Yards Report

The proposed Atlantic Yards project should have been a great story for major New York media to cover, but the coverage continues to be lacking. An informational meeting hosted by Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 went largely unnoticed.

While the official required Atlantic Yards public hearing takes place over two days, Wednesday and Thursday, that, I think, will be something of a sideshow, an opportunity for both opponents and proponents to face off and to posture--though some substantive criticism surely will be lodged.

The bigger news, I believe, already happened on Wednesday at the informational meeting before three Community Boards, given the unprecedented presence of both Empire State Development and Forest City Ratner representatives and their responses--both answers and evasions--to tough questions.

And it got relatively little press coverage. None of the three dailies sent a reporter, nor did any TV stations, including NY 1 or local Brooklyn cable.


But the dailies, as well as the Village Voice and others who've paid attention to Atlantic Yards, missed an important story about governmental responsibility and public review of major development projects--a story with a number of potential mini-headlines, such as the unavailability of a cost-benefit analysis or arena renderings, or the ESDC's unwillingness to comment on a New York City Independent Budget Office analysis that the arena would be a money-loser for the city.

It's a story not merely of neighborhood and borough interest, but given the city and state subsidies involved, of interest to the city and state, and--given the heat and complexity of the controversy, as well as the controversy over building sports facilities--of national interest.

Atlantic Yards opponents, who generally alert the media ahead of public hearings and meetings, could have done a better job of soliciting coverage. But the media should be able to figure things out themselves, as well.


Posted by steve at July 25, 2009 8:37 AM