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April 12, 2010

Lessons from Hastings: no tradeoff between economics and environment; the need for reasoned argument; the goal of sustainable development

Atlantic Yards Report

The legal and procedural battle behind Atlantic Yards is so fraught--did the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) really withhold the crucial Development Agreement until after oral argument in January regarding the project timetable?--that it's refreshing to see that some people believe in ideals.

A slate of three candidates in the suburban village of Hastings-on-Hudson was elected in March 2009 under the banner Hastings Forward, and a look at their web site (thanks to Google's cache but no longer available), pointed to an essay "Living Well in Our Landscape: Environmental Responsibility and Civic Community in Hastings," by Bruce Jennings.

(Why was I noodling around Hastings Forward? It was supported by Hastings resident Philip Karmel, the ESDC's lead outside lawyer in the Atlantic Yards cases.)

The highlights

Notably, Jennings argues that knotty issues "do not involve a choice between environmental conservation and economic development," since framing a trade-off wrongly "implies that economic development exists somehow in a vacuum unaffected by natural systems."

Rather than pit development against nature, he suggests that the issue is "responsible, careful development and economic improvement within the context of a sustainable relationship between human activity and natural system."

Moreover, a true forum "is not a shouting match, an occasion to assail one’s opponents" but "a space of civic imagination and reasoned, deliberative argument," he writes, suggesting that the result can be "adequately protective and sustainable modes of development."

Does that sound much like the ESDC process?

link

Posted by eric at April 12, 2010 10:07 AM