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January 7, 2010

ESDC: Every Statement Defies Credibility?

Atlantic Yards Report, ESDC general counsel claims that ESDC board, not consultant AKRF, "finds blight"

There was a telling moment last night during state Senator Bill Perkins's oversight hearing on eminent domain.

I'll have more coverage tomorrow, but the statement below by Anita Laremont, general counsel for the Empire State Development Corporation, is worth consideration.

Laremont was responding to a series of tough questions about AKRF, the ubiquitous environmental consultant that consistently delivers the reports that government agencies need to get projects past legal challenges.

Laremont says AKRF just does research

"Let me just say though, to clarify one thing," Laremont told Perkins. "AKRF does not find blight. Our board finds blight. AKRF does a study of neighborhood conditions. And they give us a report, and we make a determination based on that whether or not the area is blighted."

What the board can't find: Pacific Street

Well, AKRF gets paid millions of dollars while board members show up very, very uninformed. Remember, as shown in the video below from the December 2008 ESDC board meeting, board member Charles (Trip) Dorkey asked to know the location of Pacific Street, a key block in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

The issue of blight was determined months earlier. How could he have found blight if he couldn't find Pacific Street?

Atlantic Yards Report, ESDC: master closing documents will become available... in next few weeks

Remember, contract documents signed during the Atlantic Yards master closing, rather than the more aspirational and vague Final Environmental Impact Statement and the Modified General Project Plan, are where we get to see the real oversight of the project.

Last month, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) told me it would be a week or two after the December 23 master closing before the master closing documents were released.

Now, ESDC spokeswoman Elizabeth Mitchell tells me it will be a little while longer:

The Master Closing documents have been finalized and remain in escrow pending title acquisition or vacant possession. The "final" documents - in unexecuted form - should be made available to the public at our offices under supervision in the next few weeks.

NoLandGrab: "Under supervision?" If there's anything that could use some supervision, it's the ESDC.

Posted by eric at January 7, 2010 12:11 AM