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January 19, 2010

Seeking N.Y. land, developer twisted meaning of 'blight'

The Washington Post, Letters to the Editor

George F. Will's Jan. 3 column on eminent domain for the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards Project, "In N.Y., government's eminent arrogance," focused on the perversion of "public use" to include "blight" removal and the perversion of "blight" to mean whatever land-hungry developers and their political partners want it to mean.

Developer Charles Ratner responded to the column with a misleading letter ["N.Y. project: Beyond eminent domain," Jan. 12]. Tellingly, his letter ignored the blight issue.

Mr. Ratner pretends the Atlantic Yards project site is little more than a rail yard, warehouses and empty lots. This is false. Before his firm, Forest City Enterprises, came along with its eminent domain and demolition plans, it was a gentrifying but mixed-income, mixed-use home to about 400 residents and 35 businesses.

Forest City would like everyone to think it tried to avoid using eminent domain and would use it only as a "last resort." But eminent domain was purposely a first resort -- it was the threat of eminent domain used as a gun to the heads of property owners and tenants that allows Mr. Ratner to think -- delusionally -- that he hasn't actually used eminent domain. The threat and the use are precisely the same, equally insidious and achieve the same result.

Daniel E. Goldstein, New York

The writer is co-founder and spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, In the Washington Post's Letters section, DDDB's Goldstein rebuts Chuck Ratner

After Chuck Ratner responded to George Will in the Washington Post, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein gets a rebuttal letter in today's Post.

It's longer and more substantive than the only letter Goldstein's seen published in the New York Times, which, rather than print a correction, let Goldstein on 4/12/07 explain that "[o]ur organization does not merely oppose the scale of the plan."

Posted by eric at January 19, 2010 1:34 PM