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November 8, 2009

Atlantic Yards Report Sunday Sweep-Up

Public Use, Robert Moses, and the Atlantic Yards blight fight

As everyone with an interest in the Atlantic Yards fight anxiously awaits a decision on eminent domain from the New York Court of Appeals, Norman Oder revisits the issue and examines the use of a blight designation for the proposed Atlantic Yards project footprint.

Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, wrote a column in the 10/26/09 New York Law Journal on the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case, headlined Public Use, Robert Moses and the Fight Over Atlantic Yards.

It was apparently written, though not published, before the 10/14/09 oral argument in the Atlantic Yards eminent domain case.

Dunn allows for the possibility that the Court of Appeals might narrow eminent domain law, though the court had long agreed that "public use" could mean "public purpose."

After attending the oral argument, I wouldn't rule it out either, but not necessarily for the reasons Dunn cites. Rather, as I describe further below, the issue might be the state's broad use of the term "blight."

Flashback, December 2006: video of the ESDC board's pro forma approval of Atlantic Yards

This is a revisit to the ESDC's initial approval of the opposed Atlantic Yards project via video from the documentarians who are laboring to bring you the Battle of Brooklyn.

I long wished someone had videotaped the Empire State Development Corporation's 12/8/06 board meeting to approve Atlantic Yards and, thanks to the producers behind the Battle of Brooklyn documentary, we now get to see some video. (They're still raising money for the film.)

Yes, we know it was rubberstamped, as I wrote at the time, but it's worth watching ESDC official Ann Hulka, as I wrote, "uninflectedly read a boilerplate description of project changes."

“A blight study was prepared which documents blighted conditions on the project site. ESDC intends to exercise the power of eminent domain to remove these blighted conditions," Hulka reads.

And it's worth hearing general counsel Anita Laremont state that "we’re very confident" about the blight study, especially given that Laremont (in glasses in photo above) looks somewhat dismayed at the beginning of the tape.

And then there's board member Charles (Trip) Dorkey, who needs to know the location of Pacific Street, and is instructed carefully by ESDC official Rachel Shatz.

AY opponents Daniel Goldstein and Patti Hagan, interviewed after the event, are unsurprisingly skeptical and, as Goldstein points out, were notably well-behaved, given that they surpressed the urge to heckle or scream. (Hmm, at the ESDC re-approval, there was some cordial heckling, as I reported, with video.)

As I reported in 2006, there was a lot of interesting back-and-forth with ESDC Chairman Charles Gargano after the meeting. Still, this video from Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley is very telling.

Lupica: Ratner = "Donald Sterling of the Clips on training wheels"

Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica takes a shot at the owner (for now) of the Nets:

[NBA Commissioner] David Stern must be awfully proud of the job Bruce Ratner has done with the Nets.

You know who Ratner really is?

Donald Sterling of the Clips on training wheels.

Snap. He's said it before.

A look at the Atlantic Yards footprint as the clock ticks

Norman Oder catches up with photography from Tracy Collins to add:

The additional barriers and reinforced fencing suggest that utility work has stepped up. Should legal cases stymie the project, unraveling it all would be very interesting.

Posted by steve at November 8, 2009 11:48 AM