November 12, 2009

A Post That is Just a Bit Montesquieued

Noticing New York

The NY Times published the same argument for the importance of an independent judiciary on the same day as Noticing NY blogger Michael D.D. White, only White was referencing Atlantic Yards, which has been an ethical and political blind spot for the "Paper of Record."


Posted by lumi at 4:32 AM

November 27, 2008

Distrust Ratner

From The Brooklyn Paper Mailbag

To the editor,

Your editorial, “Distrust but verify” (Oct. 25), reminds us that the Atlantic Yards project is still alive, even if it’s not doing so well — and it’s not just that it’s more costly, but it has also become far more toxic.

I am sure we will see more awards given to your paper’s coverage of Atlantic Yards should construction eventually proceed. Indeed I would expect that The Brooklyn Paper will end up reporting how Ratner’s delay of the Atlantic Yards build out will contribute to perpetual gridlock on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. That is, replacing Atlantic Yards Phase II residential housing with interim parking means going back on a commitment to mitigate traffic by using off-site parking with a shuttle service to the arena.

So now instead of this being a transit-related project, the new Atlantic Yards timetable confronts Brooklyn with the prospect of public parking for Ratner’s arena and his mall, as well as of a park and ride for the MTA.

Meanwhile, there is no public input on how vehicles are expected to enter and exit the parking areas without further disrupting existing traffic flows!

The new timetables effects will also show up in your ongoing coverage of the Gowanus Canal — in fact, the paper has a current piece on combined sewage overflow and long term goals for cleaning up the canal (“Toll’s Canal project moves forward,” Nov. 1).

Creating interim surface parking with no end date means that accumulating automotive and petroleum-based chemicals will become part of the storm water runoff feeding into a cleaned up Gowanus. How big of a problem this will become appears to rest, like so much else, solely in the hands of the developer. So, continue to distrust and verify. We’re counting on you.

Alan Rosner, Prospect Heights

Posted by lumi at 4:40 AM

October 12, 2008

Letter to the Editor: Staten Island Advance


So, Mike Bloomberg has decided he is above what the voting public has already passed into law twice. I just have a couple of questions: What exactly has he done that is good for New York City that hasn't advanced his own agenda?

What about all the money wasted trying to get the Olympics (failed at that), the West Side Jets stadium (failed at that) and the Atlantic Yards (failure has been slightly postponed). The closing of Astroland with no imminent projects actually and financially close to fruition.


Posted by amy at 10:01 AM

September 20, 2008

Letter to the Editor from Alan Rosner

Linewaiters' Gazette

To the Editor,

I am writing to amplify Susan Metz’s letter “Your Role in Atlantic Yards” (AY), from the Linewaiters Gazette of 7/17/08. The Atlantic Yards (AY) project needs to be completely rethought, and this time with community input. And, yes, the Atlantic Yards Governance Act (AYGA) she talks about will confer legitimacy on a project that has violated both established process and all logic.

AY was promised as a two-phase project that would be completed in an amazing 10 years. Now, just Phase I has been granted 12 years for its completion. The project’s Phase II residential housing portion might then follow, albeit without any end date. For now what we mostly get are a sports arena and acres of “interim” parking lots. Gone are the “benefits”, the landscaped public open spaces and other amenities, the promised jobs, and of course the supposedly “affordable” housing.

Most importantly, with only a sports arena and years of “interim” parking there is no compelling reason to build Ratner’s arena at this location. The State rejected any alternative to AY that did not include both an arena and housing. Well, now where’s the housing?

What is needed is to acknowledge that an arena and 5 to 15 years of “interim” parking lots will have significant adverse impacts that no is talking about. They would include the “Developers Blight” already caused by blocks of demolished buildings; the displacement of the owners and tenants and businesses from the project’s footprint; disastrous traffic dislocations from parking lot entry & egress, along with all the cruising for free street parking; the project’s increased costs and subsidies; the loss of direct connections between the arena and the Atlantic Avenue Station; storm water run off from the parking lots without promised Phase II mitigations; the possibility of “interim” electronic signs blazing out basketball scores to cars being parked & gridlocked westbound drivers all down Atlantic Avenue….

Unfortunately while the courts are deciding who gets to control 22 contiguous acres right in the heart of Brooklyn, they are addressing AY as it was approved in 2006 and not what it has become. Waiting on the courts to decide is an abdication of the State’s responsibility to govern in the public’s best interest.

So take Susan’s advice and call or write your local elected officials, and/or Governor Paterson, to demand that this “New” but not improved project gets an honest review. Brooklyn deserves something better than this corporate land grab; a land grab that over the last four years has already blighted so much of our neighborhood.

AY’s massive impacts and minimal benefits in a time of financial contraction may yet force smarter and more contextual development. We can hope that the State takes a hard look at what AY has become - but we can also act to help make that happen.


Alan Rosner

Note: Here’s a link to a letter in the Brooklyn Paper that addresses the need for a new look at this project:

Posted by amy at 2:46 PM

August 26, 2008

Dear Eliot, . . . . . Please be a true reformer

Noticing New York

This is the second in a series of posts I am running. Each post will share one of a number of letters I have written to politicians representing us calling for them to take responsibilty on Atlantic Yards.

I invite others to borrow freely from them in structuring their own letters.
I also received a response to this letter I sent to Eliot Spitzer when he was still governor. More on that later because that is an interesting story in itself.


Posted by lumi at 4:46 AM

August 6, 2008


From the Park Slope Food Coop's Linewaiter's Gazette:


Atlantic Yards Governance Act (A11395) is a piece of legislation presented to the State Assembly by 57th AD representative Hakeem Jeffries. Last Monday a press conference was held on the steps of City Hall in support. I doubt that anyone is aware of this legislation. Very few people attended the press conference.

The legislation would set up a new governance mechanism legitimizing the Forest City Ratner Corporation's (FCRCorporation) monopolistic privatization of the terrain around the Atlantic and Vanderbilt train yards between Prospect Heights and Fort Greene. Rather than setting up a new governance, elected officials can be defending the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) which is the legal way that residents have a role in vetting decisions about landuse in this city.

ULURP was debated for years, written into law and is included in the City Charter as section 190c. ULURP requires open public hearings facilitated by Community Boards in the affected area(s) and then a vote by the full city council... ULURP gives residents, community board members and local elected officials authority over landuse and development decisions.

Then governor (and Ratner-classmate) George Pataki assigned authority over the project soon after its announcement to his appointees on the states Empire State Economic Development Corporation (ESDC) using an arcane stipulation in the state constitution. They robbed residents and city officials of our authority and power assigned by the City Charter. Elected officials can defend our right to participate rather than set up new and diversionary procedures that contradict city law.

Now that the FCRCorporation's plan has been revised and re-revised and re-re-revised to the point that we don't know whether there is a plan, the situation is this: The militant local opposition, the failing economy, and the new governor open an opportunity to go back to the beginning and do this development decision the just manner and the legal manner- putting out a Request for Proposals to developers and putting each proposal through the ULURP process. We can tell our elected officials that we want them to struggle for a legal and just process.

Another distressing aspect of the press conference was that the person speaking on behalf of the community has no authority to do so. Gib Veconi never brought the proposal to support this legislation to the Park Place- Underhill Avenue Block Association of which we are both members. There was no discussion nor vote on whether the oldest civic organization in Prospect Heights supports or opposes the proposed legislation. It is painful to call a neighbor out, but honesty requires it.

The proposed legislation went over like a lead balloon‚ as Joe Maniscalco reported in the Park Slope Courier. Everyone concerned about the quality of life in Brooklyn can ask her/his elected official for a copy of the proposed legislation. If you oppose FCRCorporation's Atlantic Yards plan, get in touch with those officials and ask them to support an open process, not legitimize and Corporate land-grab.

In solidarity,
Susan Metz

Posted by lumi at 4:46 AM

July 25, 2008

Of course, Marty isn’t running — why should he?

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor


To the editor,

Your front page story last week about Borough President Markowitz’s supposed flirtation with a run for higher office (“Beep’s run done? Expert: Marty ain’t raising money,” July 19) gives too much credit to Markowitz. Seriously, does anyone think that Brooklyn’s buffoon is actually running for mayor?

Perhaps Marty is the only one who thinks he’s fit for a promotion, but the rest of us think he’s a joke. From his steadfast pigheadedness on Atlantic Yards — that state-sponsored boondoggle whose failure makes Markowitz look dumber and dumber — to his seeming belief that the loudest person in the room must be the smartest, Markowitz reminds me day in and day out that New York can do better.

I do confess that if it weren’t for term limits, I would again vote for him for Beep. The job has no authority, so it’s perfect for this toothless tiger.

Jerry Siemens, Greenpoint

Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

July 18, 2008

Someone needs to do the due diligence at Atlantic Yards

letter2theeditor.gif An excerpt from a letter to the editor, penned by Alan Rosner, published in The Brooklyn Paper:

Had [Atlantic Yards] gone forward as planned, any number of risks would have had time to play themselves out. Just think: the social experiment of residential density twice that of anything ever attempted in all of U.S. history; creating super-blocks, despite decades of adverse experience; overwhelming Brooklyn’s 50- to 150-year-old infrastructure; overwhelming both vehicular and public transportation capacity; the traffic implications of protecting three Homeland Security Department terrorist targets.

Today’s disconnect between the law and reality could not be starker.

No matter the arguments presented [during the appeal of the state environmental review], the project being argued over is no longer the project laid in court papers.

This case is now only about who will have control of 22 contiguous acres in the center of Brooklyn.

The Nets aren’t required to come here and the housing in the second phase of the project may never be built it’s all left up to Ratner.

The courts cannot be counted on to address this sort of a problem.

What the (naked) emperors of this state need to do is require an honest study of the environmental injuries that a sports arena and acres of parking will inflict on surrounding communities and the borough at large.

Posted by lumi at 5:28 AM

July 2, 2008

Rich taking over the city, poor paying for it


From Letters to the Editor:

If you want to know why so much over-building is going on, why there are so many tax breaks to the rich baseball teams, and the 'eminent domain law' being used to get rid of small businesses and renters, you can look no further than the mayor's 'ex' deputy mayor, billionaire Dan Doctoroff.

It is doubtful that the mayor can think of all this by himself. They're both getting richer by "killing" the poor. One would think monies would be available to fix the transit system, create affordable housing and give the parks back to the people, instead of giving it all to the rich. What a legacy for Bloomberg.

Michael Perez, Manhattan


NoLandGrab: We're pretty sure that the ex-Deputy Mayor is not a billionaire. Yet.

Posted by steve at 4:52 AM

June 18, 2008

Letter Urges NY Congressional Delegation to End Tax Giveaways to Sports Teams

From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:


Today a co-signed letter was sent to New York's federal representatives urging them to make sure that are no more giveaways for sports facilities, facilities which bring no economic benefit to the public but clear, lucrative benefits to the teams' owners.

The letter concludes: Rather than bending the rules for wealthy private interests, we need to ensure that public dollars are wisely invested in projects that will benefit all New Yorkers.

The letter, sent to Members of the New York City Congressional Delegation and Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, was signed by the following groups:
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn
Fifth Avenue Committee
Fiscal Policy Institute
Good Jobs New York
New Yorkers for Parks
New York Public Research Interest Group
NYC Park Advocates
Pratt Center for Community Development
Save Our Parks
Sustainable South Bronx

Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

May 23, 2008

Two sides of Gehry

The Brooklyn Paper

From a letter to the editor by Municipal Art Society (MAS) President Kent Barwick about the group's love-hate relationship with Frank Gehry and Forest City Ratner:

The MAS criticized the Atlantic Yards proposal for its poor planning and the total failure of its public and private sponsors to meaningfully engage the public. The MAS presented an award to the IAC building because it was selected by an independent jury as one of the best new buildings in New York City.

The fact that both projects are designed by the same architect is immaterial. In the same awards ceremony, we honored Forest City Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards project, by naming the New York Times Building one of the best new buildings in the city.


Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

April 26, 2008

‘Room’ doomed?

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor from Alan Rosner, Park Slope

To the editor,

We have just learned that the iconic Frank Gehry skyscraper, Miss Brooklyn, has no anchor tenant, and that without one no financing is available (“Atlantic Yards Dead,” March 29). That being the case, the basketball arena may get built long before Miss Brooklyn construction begins.

Meanwhile, no one seems to have asked if the “Urban Room” — a six-story, all-glass entry to Miss Brooklyn, the arena and the Atlantic Avenue station — will be built or abandoned.

There are problems either way. If it is to be built, Bruce Ratner will have some major redesign costs, especially if the distance between the “Urban Room” and the arena is to be hidden rather than left a gaping open wound.

Ratner’s less-costly alternative is to wait until Miss Brooklyn eventually goes ahead. But the “Urban Room,” a promised amenity, also served to mitigate the expected hoards of pedestrians crossing Atlantic Avenue by connecting the MTA’s Atlantic Avenue station with the arena. The silence suggests that neither the ESDC nor Ratner are concerned.


I’d like to think The Brooklyn Paper could find out what a delayed Miss Brooklyn means, but unfortunately control of what happens to neighborhoods is happening behind closed doors among connected, corporate developers who have money to buy their way through the system.

I guess the real question is how much longer this swindle will be allowed to drag on?

Alan Rosner, Park Slope

Posted by amy at 10:55 AM

April 4, 2008

Readers respond to Bruce Ratner’s Yards failure

The Brooklyn Paper published three letters in response to news that Atlantic Yards has been significantly delayed:

Affordable housing deferred?

To the editor,

Your article about the demise of Atlantic Yards (“Atlantic Yards Dead; Ratner kills Miss Brooklyn, KOs 11 buildings; vows to build publicly financed Nets arena,” March 29) makes it seem like Bruce Ratner’s promised 2,250 units of affordable housing might never get built.

One scenario is that Ratner builds the stadium and then sells off the rest of the 22-acres to private developers.

So when does ACORN, which supported Ratner and signed the Community Benefits Agreement, say, “Bruce, you’re breaking the deal”?

Bertha Lewis has to have major egg on her face now.

P.S. I hope the editor’s ankle is healing nicely.

Steve DeSève, Brooklyn Heights

Betrayal of Public Trust

To the editor,

Your editorial, “Take Back the Rail Yards” (March 29) was right on. The whole Atlantic Yards project has been a huge betrayal of the public trust, and a reversion of the yards would help at least a little bit.

Your coverage of the whole debacle has been most welcome, and your jeremiads are being vindicated.

Let’s hope the several public officials do the right thing now, and move from (tardy) outrage to (early) action. Get on it, lawmakers. Make it happen. Take the rail yards back. And work on legal relief for those adjacent neighborhoods, which are not being developed but destroyed.

Daniel Meeter, Park Slope
The writer is the pastor at Old First Reformed Church on Seventh Avenue

Beginnings of Blight

To the editor,

Bruce Ratner didn’t create this blight. It has been a blight created by 60 years of political neglect. Even when the all-powerful speakers of the state Assembly were from Brooklyn, nothing was done to improve the area.

That is where the blight and neglect started — and remains.

Al Pankin, Downtown

Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

April 3, 2008

LETTER: How to Build a City

The NY Times, Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Re “Profit and Public Good Clash in Grand Plans” (Architecture column, March 27):

Nicolai Ouroussoff comes to the right conclusion: When you are trying to build a city, it’s about championing the public good, not counting beans.

But by bemoaning the quality of the proposed buildings and the watering down of Frank Gehry’s work for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, he adds to the confusion about the difference between building a city and treating big chunks of the city as if they were architectural design problems.

The fact is that great cities do not rely on cutting-edge architecture. They rely on a clear framework of streets and open spaces, designed by and for the public, that over time can support the full spectrum of architecture, from the pedestrian to the heroic.

Indeed, how many heroic buildings can you have in one place before none of them are?

Robert Lane
Director of Design
Regional Plan Association

Posted by lumi at 4:35 AM

April 1, 2008

LETTER: Why protest Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn Museum?

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn posted an open letter from Michael D. D. White (can someone get this guy his own blog already?). The letter contains an unabridged laundry list of reasons why it's so wrong for the Brooklyn Museum to honor the poster boy for eminent-domain-abusing public-subsidy-sucking local-zoning-circumventing overdevelopment.


Posted by lumi at 6:08 PM

March 28, 2008

A Bright Future for Brooklyn

The NY Times, Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

Re “What Will be Left of Gehry’s Vision for Brooklyn?,” by Nicolai Ouroussoff (Architecture, Weekend Arts, March 21):

The cancellation of Atlantic Yards would not be a “painful setback for urban planning” but a victory for Brooklyn and for responsible future development. Mr. Ouroussoff’s grand architectural visions for the Manhattanization of Brooklyn leaves out the effects on individuals.

Dozens of residents have been evicted because of Atlantic Yards, and the project would do further harm:

  • The “Brooklyn Bride” would cast a permanent shadow over the surrounding area.

  • The Nets Stadium would cause impossible traffic congestion.

  • Public streets would be closed for what would be a luxury development.

  • There would only be minimal affordable housing (Bruce Ratner has continually backed off from his initial promise).

A coalition of Brooklyn organizations has come up with a Unity Plan, to provide for the improvement of Brooklyn homes and services. The possibility finally looks brighter for that.

Reva Cooper
Brooklyn, March 21, 2008

Posted by lumi at 6:21 AM

March 23, 2008

Honor Ratner?

The Brooklyn Paper, letter to the editor from Clem Labine, Park Slope

I am outraged that the honored guest at the Brooklyn Museum’s annual ball is Bruce Ratner (“B’klyn Museum honors Ratner,” March 15).

The Museum, in the past, has denied its facilities to events that were deemed “too political” or “too conroversial.” Yet, although Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project has totally split the Brooklyn community, he gets the Augustus Graham Medal, “the Museum’s highest honor.”

Could it possibly be that the Museum is setting aside its rule about controversy because Ratner pours money into the Museum’s coffers? Or am I being too cynical?


Posted by amy at 1:46 PM

Ratner’s lies

The Brooklyn Paper, letter to the editor from Michael D.D. White, Brooklyn Heights

Forest City Ratner will not correct misrepresentations on its Atlantic Yards website unless hounded to be truthful (“Another Ratner lie! Gehry was NOT ‘born in Brooklyn,’” March 15).

The Gehry misrepresentation is a case in point.

The Web site also still misrepresents that the mega-development will be “primarily situated over the MTA/LIRR’s Vanderbilt Rail Yards.” In fact, only 40 percent of the mega-development is over the rail yards.

Lost in this misrepresentation is any acknowledgment that additional acreage is being taken through gratuitous eminent domain abuse that allows Ratner to seize control of what will be.

FCR leaves misrepresentations on its Web site because it benefits them when press-release-reading “journalists” promulgate the inaccurate stories.

Witness the way the New York Times has misreported and then failed to make its own corrections.


Posted by amy at 1:44 PM

February 16, 2008

An appeal for justice

NY Daily News letter to the editor:

Your editorial about our court fight against Atlantic Yards was rife with misstatements, exaggerations and fabrications ("Abuse of process," Feb. 5).

From calling an area where two-bedroom condos sell for $1 million "blighted," to implying that creating "a home for the Nets" justifies the taking of private property, it's clear you are willing to ignore the facts to further Forest City Ratner's goals.

For those who oppose this boondoggle, the only opportunity to fight is in the courts. Yet Bruce Ratner and the Daily News cry foul because the community is exercising its legal rights and appealing lower-court decisions it believes are wrong. Interestingly, you found no fault when Forest City Ratner and the state filed appeals.

The judicial process is there to protect all citizens, not just those with money and power.

Candace Carponter

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

NoLandGrab: Develop Don't Destroy has the actual contents of the letter here.

Posted by amy at 11:52 AM

November 27, 2007


The Village Voice, Letter to the Editor

Deb Goldstein sticks up for her bro:

Regarding Dan Ross's November 7–13 letter referring to Daniel Goldstein and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn as an absolutist organization: Mr. Ross surely gives us more power than we were ever afforded.

Downplaying the work of a self-made grassroots organization in the way Mr. Ross does is taking on a sort of "blame the victim" mentality. There comes a point in organizing and social action when "sitting at the table" and negotiating are no longer strategic options. If Mr. Goldstein and the entire organization believed that negotiation with Forest City Ratner was an option, it would have been done years ago. Sure, we would have liked to remain idealistic and think that conversations could have occurred, but good faith went the way of the falling bricks a long time ago. However, Mr. Ross, perhaps you could try?

Deborah Goldstein


Posted by lumi at 5:57 AM

November 22, 2007

Barclays disgrace

The Brooklyn Paper

To the editor,

Regarding your article, “More Blood Money,” and your editorial, “End Barclays deal now” (Nov. 17), about Bruce Ratner’s connection to Barclays and the company’s involvement with Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, with South African apartheid, the Nazi regime in France and the trans-Atlantic slave trade — a bit of investigation on the Internet shows that Barclays is also currently a large investor in corporations that are involved in racial discrimination practices, the war economy, union-busting and activities detrimental to health.

Barclays is the fourth largest institutional shareholder in the Coca-Cola Company, with more than $3 billion invested. The beverage company, only a few years ago, had to pay out a $192.5-million settlement to their African-American employees for racial discrimination practices. There are currently other lawsuits against Coke for racial discrimination. And Coca-Cola continues doing business in the Sudan, despite an embargo because of the Darfur tragedy.
Barclays’ name should not be allowed on any building in Brooklyn. As Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries said in your story, “Enough is enough!”

Lewis Friedman, Park Slope

Friedman's complete letter contains a litany of investments made by Barclays Bank which would give pause to most team owners seeking an arena naming-rights sponsor.

Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

November 9, 2007


Village Voice, Letter to the Editor

One letter begat another:

Re Letters [October 24–30]: Daniel Goldstein responded to your "Best of New York" issue's award of Best Noble Failure to his organization, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, by claiming that the award was premature. Some of us in Brooklyn agree that Goldstein's group is a failure, but for a completely different—and less noble—reason. I view Goldstein and his absolutist views as responsible for the failure of the opposition to Atlantic Yards. While his organization is called Develop Don't Destroy, it should have been called Don't Develop Brooklyn. It never engaged in a serious effort to negotiate the size and bulk of Atlantic Yards and permit a reasonable development of that long-neglected neighborhood to go forward. There's no way to know whether a good-faith effort to negotiate a scaled-back version of Atlantic Yards might have succeeded, but Goldstein's absolutist opposition made serious negotiation impossible. You might as well blame him for the fact that Atlantic Yards will proceed as planned, without any real community input.

Dan Ross

NoLandGrab: Maybe Dan might want to hook up with the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, which has been busy doing just what he suggests, unfortunately, without as much success as Dan anticipated.

Posted by lumi at 5:03 AM

Save the kudos

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor

We missed one of our own from last week's selection:

To the editor,

As with Forest City Ratner's 16-acre Metrotech high-rise office campus, Atlantic Yards is rife with planning problems that are entirely foreseeable ("Big step forward for Downtown," Oct. 27).

Those elected an appointed officials acquiescing to Bruce Ratner again — and leaving these problems to the next generation of planners to fix, as is being done in Downtown Brooklyn — are being wholly negligent.

Lumi Michelle Rolley, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 5:01 AM

October 9, 2007

Errol Louis: High five and hypocrisy

Here's a round-up of responses to Errol Louis's column, "Death throes for arena foes:"

Neighborhood Retail Alliance, CU and FCRC
In Richard Lipsky's high-five to Errol Louis's "epitaph for Develop Don't Destroy," he compares developer Forest City Ratner favorably with Columbia University, both entities that are seeking to use eminent domain to expand their holdings in their respective neighborhoods. Likpsky discloses that he has and continues "to work for FCRC on the Nets coming to Brooklyn," but does not offer that he is also working with "the West Harlem community-and its leading business owner Nick Sprayregen." The distinction he makes between the two is "affordable housing."

Pardon Me for Asking, An Open Letter To Errol Louis Regarding The Atlantic Yards Project
Blogger Katia Kelly published her hubby's letter to Errol Louis in response to Errol Louis's attack on Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's federal eminent domain suit.

Mr. Louis, I have just read your article (10/7/2007) about Atlantic Yards and am surprised that you don't see the hypocrisy in this whole deal., Reality Check Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn argues that Errol Louis missed just about every point, including the concept that the US Constitution protects, like, all citizens (we think):

Most troubling about Louis's "opinion" is that he actually argues that the exercise of Constitutional rights should not be a matter of right, but rather contingent upon one's tenure at a particular address or the whim of alleged popular opinion. One can only imagine that, in Louis's conception of the Constitution as the tool of a tyrannical majority, a newly naturalized American citizen would have a different, lesser set of rights than someone born in the United States. Perhaps it's time that Louis check his reality.

Posted by lumi at 9:30 AM

September 4, 2007

Let Brooklyn be Brooklyn

amNY, Letter to the Editor

A local resident's reaction to the taking via eminent domain of the Duffield St. houses also sums up some of the sentiments about Brooklyn's biggest overdevelopment, Atlantic Yards:

Re 'Railroaded' (Aug. 27): So developers want to tear down an historic Brooklyn house with possible ties to the Underground Railroad. And in its place, they will create Willoughby Square, which is being alternately described as Brooklyn¹s own version of Bryant Park, the Time Warner Center, and/or Rockefeller Center ('Last Stop for Slave History?').

Here's a radical thought: Why don't we let Brooklyn be Brooklyn? Many of us live there for the simple fact that it is not Manhattan. We don't need to recreate midtown in a borough that already has its own rich history.

— Andy Buck, Flatbush


Posted by lumi at 7:10 AM

July 27, 2007

Letters to the Editor

The Brooklyn Paper ran a few letters this week (link) that reference Atlantic Yards and the guy who really seems to run things in this town, Bruce Ratner:

Markowitz for mayor? Our readers respond

It is no surprise to me that Borough President Markowitz is raising money from large developers and other big-time political donors, yet precious little from the grassroots (“Marty money misses mark,” July 21). After all, this is a borough president who has spent the last six years doing the bidding of developers like Bruce Ratner, whose vision for Brooklyn is counter to many of Markowitz’s own constituents.

— Tom Sutton, Sunset Park


When I read your original story about Arena Bagels, I was angered that a bunch of bullies forced the store owner to change his name because they objected to anyone using a noun that brought to mind Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project.

But your articles showed me that the bagel store owner, Ravi Aggarwaal, was not angry about the neighbors who demanded that he re-name the store.

He taught us all a lesson in turning the other cheek.

— Nancy Melnick, Prospect Heights

Kick pols in career

We should honor Lady Bird Johnson by turning Atlantic Yards into meadows of native planted trees.

Our parks are becoming overcrowded. Maybe Bruce Ratner wants to declare the parks blighted so his cronies in elected office can condemn them and hand them over so he can build on them.

— Rhudi Eagle, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

July 26, 2007

Dear Hillary, Stop Bruce Ratner and the Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Downtown Star

One Brooklyn resident and urban development professional speaks out and implores Hillary Clinton to do the right thing:

As property owners in Downtown Brooklyn, tax payers, and registered voters, my family and U are deeply troubled by the propose Atlantic Yards Development. If this proposal is implemented, it will be the largest development project in the city and the most densely populated in the nation. As a professional with degrees in architecture and city planning and may years of service with the New York City Mayors Office of Development, neither I nor the vast majority of citizens are opposed to responsible development. However, we oppose the greed that this corrupt project incorporates—greed symbolized by the present Republican administration in Washington. We sympathize with the newly elected Governor Spitzer who has to inherit this proposal form his predecessor, Republican Governor Pataki and Pataki’s college buddy and developer, Bruce Ratner. Mr. Ratner is also the developer of two unsuccessful projects in downtown Brooklyn that required the state to relocate some of their offices to keep these projects afloat. This proposal also incorporates all the secrecy that the Bush administration has forced on our country. Why was this proposal not able to go through the City for review, including the Department of City Planning? Why is public space being advertised when it will be closed to the public? Why are 2,250 units of affordable housing being advertised when only 250 units are for incomes under $28,00? Why is this plan in conflict with the Mayors 2030 Plan? Why did the MTA accept Ratner’s bid, when today the Mayor is asking the Federal government for money to expand our subway system? Quite likely, the MTA was told to accept the bid by Governor Pataki.


Posted by lumi at 8:11 AM

July 20, 2007

He smells a Ratner

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

A Park Sloper lays the blame at Ratner's feet, but calls on voters to take it out on their elected representatives:

Those newly released Atlantic Yards documents (“Yassky: Stop Ratner gravy train,” July 14) make it very clear that the 2,250 low-cost housing units that are proposed as part of Bruce Ratner’s development may, in fact, never be built.

But if not, blame Ratner. Their future is in doubt due to cost under-estimates, and this should concern every taxpaying citizen. Ratner’s project will ultimately be funded with taxpayer money solely for private use, and in the end will not benefit the community in any way shape or form, but will only further deplete already overtaxed utilities in the area and in nearby neighborhoods.

Moving forward with this project, with the assistance of city officials and planners, violates the terms of Eminent Domain laws, and is unethical. The developer, with government assistance, is knowingly seizing private property for private use under the guise of public benefit.

To add insult to injury, a recent state Assembly vote awarded Ratner a tax break estimated as being worth between $175 and $300 million.

It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to all that’s going on in our own backyards — we need to act.

If the officials we elect to protect our interests are unwilling to do so, they must be voted out of office. We’ve been complacent long enough, Brooklynites — “Wake up! Speak up! Use your vote!”

Robert Segarra, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 9:56 AM

July 17, 2007

Reconsidering O'Malley

NY Daily News, Letter to the Editor

Manhattan: I don't understand why Walter O'Malley gets all the blame for the Dodgers leaving Brooklyn.

He had no choice but to leave. Ebbets Field was too small and had too few parking spaces. He asked Robert Moses many times to build a new stadium at Atlantic and Flatbush, but Moses wouldn't have anything to do with it.

[Ironically, even the master of unintended consequences knew that a ballpark near Atlantic and Flatbush would create "a China Wall of traffic."]

New York can't keep teams. The baseball Giants left. The football Giants left. The Jets left. The Islanders left. New York wants teams - but it doesn't do what's needed to keep them here. And Bruce Ratner is called a rat for bringing the Nets back - to Atlantic and Flatbush, which has been an eyesore since O'Malley's time till now.

New Yorkers are never happy.

Blame O'Malley for getting rid of Branch Rickey and trading Jackie Robinson - but you can't blame him for moving the Dodgers.

Edward Drossman

NoLandGrab: Thankfully, New Yorkers are not monolithic. Being a sports fan doesn't mean that one has to support moving teams to NYC, or keeping them here, at the expense of one's neighbors.

Posted by lumi at 9:09 AM

July 13, 2007

Make plaza Grand

The Brooklyn Paper
Letter to the Editor

A Park Sloper has a bone to pick with the proposal for Grand Army Plaza, but notes that problems at the Traffic Triangle nestled in Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal sucks and is about to get worse:

I suspect that the willingness of the city to work on Grand Army Plaza with neighborhood folks is a diversion from focusing on the more serious traffic problems on Flatbush, Atlantic and Fourth avenues, problems that the Department of Transportation has ignored since at least the 1960s and whose solutions extend all the way into Manhattan.

The city has refused offers of help from professionals and watched idly as those problems are being exacerbated by all the development in Downtown Brooklyn and especially by the proposed super mega-development of Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

July 9, 2007

Mayor's mixed messages


One Brooklynite notes that the Mayor's support for Atlantic Yards is at odds with his campaign against congestion:

In addition, why then would we want a stadium in Brooklyn?

It will increase traffic so Brooklynites will have to pay to drive in Brooklyn. Easy answer, cancel the stadium in Brooklyn and stop the congestion pricing in Manhattan.

— Thomas Healy, Brooklyn


NoLandGrab, FYI: The Mayor's POV is that the region would not be able to stomach the historic megaproject called Atlantic Yards without first swallowing what some may call a bitter pill (congestion pricing). [Granted, the Mayor's office wouldn't phrase it in that manner.]

Posted by lumi at 8:36 AM

June 9, 2007

Ratner’s myth

Letter to the Editor, The Brooklyn Paper

To the editor,

You recently printed a letter from Alvin Pankin, who was commenting about a photograph previously published in The Paper (“Thank Ratner,” May 26).

Mr. Pankin spent the first paragraph saying good riddance to the three buildings in that photograph that Forest City Ratner has demolished in the Atlantic Yards project site.

In the second paragraph, Mr. Pankin, in a non-sequitur, trotted out the most-insidious mythological talking point that Mr. Ratner’s supporters use against critics of the project — that they are “new arrivals.”

This is an insidious myth, first because it couldn’t be more false. Having spent the past three plus years working with project opponents and critics who favor sensible development, I can say with assurance that most have deep generational roots in the borough, or have lived here a significant amount of time.

Also, some of the most fervent project opponents trace their Brooklyn roots back for centuries.

The myth is also insidious because there is no eligibility barometer to civic discourse.

But, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson, this sort of mythmaking is always the last refuge of those without a substantive argument.

On another point, Mr. Pankin may not have liked what the now-demolished buildings looked like, but they once housed residential tenants and successful businesses. Now they are rubble-strewn empty lots.

Daniel Goldstein, Prospect Heights

The writer is spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn


Posted by amy at 8:37 AM

June 3, 2007

My Borough Is Not a Parking Lot

New York Times Letter to the Editor:

In “Parking, Pollution and the Pricing Zone” (May 27), three letter writers comment on the congestion-pricing plan for city traffic. One writer assumes that most drivers will not troll for scarce curbside space in neighborhoods outside the pricing zone. The reality is that people already use outer-borough neighborhoods like mine as park-’n’-ride locations.

There are legitimate “outsiders” (students, service workers and so on) who already come to park in borough neighborhoods with few or no parking garages. Are they all supposed to receive “resident alien” parking stickers or placards, too? How soon before fraudulent copies are being sold by unscrupulous entrepreneurs?

Another writer complains that the parking spaces predicted for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn will be used to avoid congestion pricing for Manhattan. The reality will more likely be that those few spaces will be vastly over-subscribed by market-rate residents of the 6,000 new housing units that will be constructed there.

The third writer refers to “scientific studies” offering “strong evidence” that congestion pricing will “reduce traffic and health problems.” But what other major city in the world consists primarily of a barely connected series of islands? I highly doubt the applicability of studies of cities topographically very different than ours.

Congestion pricing is an idea whose time should never come to New York.

Peter J. Farley III
Clinton Hill, Brooklyn


Posted by amy at 12:58 PM

June 1, 2007

The Brooklyn Paper: Letters to the Editor


A Brooklyn Paper readers give thanks for term limits and another calls for fresh blood after Borough President Marty Markowitz's purged Community Board 6 while on a cruise in the Atlantic (Ocean):

Aren’t we lucky that we have term limits for elected officials? That way, their overstuffed egos have only eight years to bully their constituents and screw them royally (“Yer Out,” May 26). — Bob Ohlerking, Park Slope

New blood is indeed needed to keep our democracy fresh and responsive to new ideas. Unfortunately, the fresh blood we really need is on the City Council and in the Borough President’s office. — Natalie Burrows, Cobble Hill

Scott Turner from Fans for Fair Play responds to editor Gersh Kuntzman's contention that arena opponents are bullies when it comes to bagels and brew:

We applaud Ravi Aggarwal for taking the time to listen to his customers and neighbors. It’s more than Bruce Ratner has ever done.

Kuntzman also drew an unfortunately connection between residents’ discussions with Aggarwal and our ongoing “Think Before You Drink” campaign against Steve Hindy’s Brooklyn Brewery. Our intent is to inform beer drinkers that buying Brooklyn Lager aids and abets Ratner’s skyscrapers and the destruction of Freddy’s Bar – a neighborhood institution whose early support of Brooklyn Lager has been repaid with Brooklyn Brewery’s support for a project that will lead to the bar’s destruction.

Posted by lumi at 6:56 AM

May 11, 2007

Atlantic Yards: The Great Mistake

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor

To the editor,

Why has nobody addressed one of the most obvious disasters that Ratner’s Atlantic Yards plan would cause: severe overload of the transportation infrastructure?

He picked the worst intersection in the city to build a stadium and mini-city. Flatbush, Fourth Avenue and Atlantic Avenue are already gridlocked all the time. How could it possibly support the extra traffic of a stadium and thousands of office workers and residents? And the trains that pass there are already sardine cans at rush hour. The subway as it is can’t withstand further burden on such a scale.

Yet I have heard no plan from Ratner — or the politicians in his pocket — for handling this surge in traffic.

This is all beside my main objection to Ratner’s scheme: Go hang around Madison Square Garden at night. Would you want to live there? Heck, no. It’s scary. Well, that is exactly the type of neighborhood a stadium creates. This is a residential neighborhood first and foremost. To portray this as “Downtown Brooklyn” (as Ratner — and many newspapers like the New York Times — does) is simply another lie from the Ratner machine.

I hope the Supreme Court can reverse the Kelo decision before this awful plan destroys the hub of Brooklyn.

Jim O’Neill, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

May 1, 2007

A clear voice on Atlantic Yards



Crain's slamming of editor Gersh Kuntzman's coverage of the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn ("Neighborhood Journal," April 2) ignores one simple fact: The Brooklyn Paper tells it like it is because most other newpapers won't. Developer Forest City Ratner has consistently sidestepped rules, shut the public out of crucial meetings and leveraged its influence with politicians to ram this boondoggle down the throats of Brooklynites (and taxpayers).


Posted by lumi at 10:53 PM

April 20, 2007

Bruce Ratner Fan Mail Bag

This week City Councilmember Vince Gentile told The Brooklyn Papers that he would "never pull a Ratner" and added:

“I just got a call saying, ‘Bless you for all you’ve done to try to save the Green Church.’ I wonder if Bruce Ratner gets those calls?”

fanmail.gifGentile might be interested to learn that Bruce Ratner does get fan mail.

Here are excerpts from a real-life fan letter written by a Bed-Stuy resident (full letter after the jump) who casts Bruce Ratner simultaneously in the role of The Great Leader and The Great Emancipator:

"It is truly pathetic that a few white people, I have never seen more than 25 protesters, can hinder a project with so much promise for the people of Brooklyn."

"If traffic patterns and imminent domain issues were applied to other projects as they are applied to Atlantic Yards, you couldn't build anything anywhere in this city."

"It just seems unfortunate that the management of Atlantic Yards appear to be laying down and not fighting back. They need to call it what it is. This no more than economic racism coming from the power elite, I have read Carl Marx' Communist Manifesto and understand that the authority of the bureaucracy is threatened by a strong middle class."

"There are people in this city who are guardians of White Supremacy, who continue to deny Black African American men and women opportunities in this city."

The letter was sent to the Forest City Ratner Community Liason Office and carbon copied to elected officials and media organizations.

Eddie Hampton
[Street address withheld]
Brooklyn, NY 11233

Mr. Bruce Ratner

April 6, 2007

Dear Mr. Ratner,

My name is Eddie Hampton, I am a retired New York City Police Detective, who has lived in Brooklynfor more than 35 years. I am also a long time community activist , I started my activism, around the time when the city was closing Sydenham Hospital in Harlem. I have marched in numerous demonstrations and have worked for, and with many local elected officials in New York City.

I remember marching with then Assemblyman Roger Green to try and save Cumberland Hospital, we couldn't get any air time from the major media, I have marched with then Council member Annette M. Robinson and Assemblyman Al Vann about crime and the lack of police protection in Bedford Stuyvesant, guess what, no major media would air our grievance.

It is truly pathetic that a few white people, I have never seen more than 25 protesters, can hinder a project with so much promise for the people of Brooklyn. Two weeks ago about 12 white protesters came out onPacific Street and I saw CBS, WABC, New York 1 and several other news media covering this event, I wonder why? Is it because it has been reported that Rapper Jay Z has some ownership in Atlantic Yards and the Nets? Is it because some Black African American construction workers might get jobs? Is it because some Black African Americans Executives might be given positions in management. Is it because as has been rumored that some Black African American businesses may get contracts to run concessions in the new arena?

I have heard the complaints by some of the protesters regarding Atlantic Yards. I have heard them talk about traffic congestion in the city, I have heard them talk about preserving the facade of some of the buildings, I have heard them talk about immanent domain issues and etc. These issues have not stopped any project in New York City other than the West side project in Manhattan which also promised jobs to the chronically unemployed in this city.

I have traveled all over this city into almost every neighborhood and there is a building boom almost everywhere. If traffic patterns and imminent domain issues were applied to other projects as they are applied to Atlantic Yards, you couldn't build anything anywhere in this city. What could be more congested than 42ndStreet, new construction is going up over there. Donald Trump is building numerous high rise buildings on the upper west side of Manhattan, what about traffic congestion there? Wall Street probably the most congested section of New York City, guess what, new construction going on down there.

It just seems unfortunate that the management of Atlantic Yards appear to be laying down and not fighting back. They need to call it what it is. This no more than economic racism coming from the power elite, I have read Carl Marx' Communist Manifesto and understand that the authority of the bureaucracy is threatened by a strong middle class.

There are people in this city who are guardians of White Supremacy, who continue to deny Black African American men and women opportunities in this city.

Eddie Hampton
cc: Various Elected Officials
Various News Media

Posted by lumi at 10:17 AM

Ever Thus

The NY Observer , Letters

To the Editor:

I am only unhappy that Matthew Schuerman’s article, “Forest City Ratner Gives to Coney Island Carousel, Other Bloombergian Public Projects” [April 2], didn’t run on page one!

The amount of New York City given away in land, tax abatements, credits and the like is the 21st-century incarnation of Tammany Hall.

I truly believe that if New Yorkers had any idea of the extent to which we have been—and are still being—robbed, there would be riots in the streets.

Lisamarie Dixon

NoLandGrab: Additionally, it's good that the daily papers don't cover this stuff — it could destablize the entire system of political patronage.

Posted by lumi at 8:32 AM

March 23, 2007

More anger over city plans for one-way streets

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters

More evidence that Park Slopers are as NIMBY as everyone says. First they shrugged off Atlantic Yards, since it wasn't in their backyard. When the impacts finally did land in their backyard, they had one of the best collective tantrums seen in recent years.

To the editor,

The proposal to convert Sixth and Seventh avenues to one way, has made me furious (“7th Avenue Express,” March 17).

My anger, though, is not directed at the Department of Transportation or Bruce Ratner, but instead at my fellow Park Slopers. Had the Slope mobilized in 2004, when Atlantic Yards was in its infancy, we might never have been at this point.

How clearly I remember the reaction to those passing out brochures against Atlantic Yards at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in 2004. The comments I heard, consistently, were “It’s so far away from here”; “It’ll be great for our neighborhood,” and “We don’t live in that part of the Slope.” Instead, the response in those critical first few months was anemic at best — “negligence” and “apathy” are more apt terms.

Now that traffic pattern changes are coming for the arena — as we all knew they would — people are getting off their arses and starting to notice that Atlantic Yards is going to destroy our quality of life. Did it need to take three years to figure that out?

Shame on Park Slope — a place full of smart, vocal and active citizens — for letting it get this far.

Rob Underwood, Park Slope


NoLandGrab: It is probably best that this criticism came from within the neighborhood. For years, Ft. Greene and Prospect Heights have noted Park Slope's indifference to the plight of any other brownstone neighborhood, only they haven't said anything thus far because they needed Park Slope to get mad about Atlantic Yards -- in fact, they still do.

Posted by lumi at 6:28 AM

March 4, 2007

Priced Out, Leaving Town


New York Times via Queens Crap

To the Editor:

Re “Escape From New York,” by Abigail A. Frankfurt (New York Observed, Feb. 25):

With the sale of Stuyvesant Town, the possible sale of Starrett City and the looming Atlantic Yards development, why should we be so concerned with a struggling writer who can no longer afford her hip studio apartment? What about middle-class families who can no longer afford their not-so-hip apartments? Hearing from those “native New Yorkers” would be more worthy of column space in The Times.

In the meantime, if Ms. Frankfurt ever decides to return, I suggest she find some roommates. That’s how many of us entry-level workers get along without a trust fund.

Sheena K. Fallon
Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn


Posted by amy at 10:19 AM

March 3, 2007

Support Brooklyn’s Future

New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Developing Story,” by Jennifer Egan (Op-Ed, Feb. 24):

As someone who has helped make Brooklyn the creative capital of New York City, Ms. Egan eloquently conveyed her thoughts about her neighborhood.

But like many of the opponents of Atlantic Yards, I wish that some evolution of her position had been evident, from flatly rejecting the project at all costs to working to improve it moving forward.

As is the case with virtually every elected official in Brooklyn and New York City, my support is focused solely on making a project that benefits all Brooklynites and New Yorkers a reality, and on maximizing those benefits for our residents and businesses.

At this phase of the Atlantic Yards’ development, the more voices and energy dedicated to those goals, the better.

Marty Markowitz
Brooklyn Borough President


NoLandGrab: But like many of the proponents of Atlantic Yards, we wish that some evolution of HIS position had been evident, from openly accepting the project at all costs to taking the community into consideration.

Posted by amy at 2:19 PM

What Would Jane Do?

New York Observer

To the editor:

Matthew Schuerman and his subject, urban planner Laurie Olin, are apparently unconcerned with the major problem of the Atlantic Yards project, or of any development like it: control [“This Guy Wants You to Love Atlantic Yards,” Feb. 26]. The Atlantic Yards plan gives control over a vital swath of downtown Brooklyn to a single corporate “decider”: Forest City Ratner. Every decision—about the shape of an entire neighborhood, about which business can lease space, what tenants can do in their apartment buildings, or whether or not planned green space actually gets greened—will lie with this private group. It is a transfer and consolidation of civic control—over many, many city blocks—into the hands of a single private, profit-making organization.

What’s the most distinctive—or the most desirable, or hottest, or coolest—neighborhood in New York? Not any neighborhood managed by a corporation: not Battery Park City, not Rockefeller Center, not anything by Trump. Our favorite blocks, our favorite shops and our favorite restaurants will never be located in these places.

I suggest that Mr. Olin and Mr. Schuerman go get those Jane Jacobs books out of the trashcan. The neighborhoods she saved are the most expensive ones in the city. Right now, in 2007.

And for a reason: They have character. Meals, coffees and leases are transacted between relatively independent players, not between individuals and powerful corporations. Interesting things happen, and not by committee.

I can’t believe I have to read a reactionary corporate apologia in The Observer. Laurie Olin is the one who’s stuck in 60’s mode, and that mode is that of the megalomaniac, authoritarian planner.

Andrew Nimmo


Posted by amy at 8:49 AM

February 17, 2007

Dear Michael Ratner.

Don't Worry It's Just Reality: Brooklyn Edition

Dear Michael,

I think you are a hypocrite and charlatan. I think your self righteous blubbering about human rights is seriously undermined by the campaign contributions in your name to corrupt Brooklyn politicians and by your silence on the crooked real estate deals and eminent domain abuse by your brother. In fact, your 'activism' looks more like a smoke screen for Ratner family interests.
For the record, I am repulsed by George Bush, by his abuse of the Constitution and by torture. But I have little patience for someone who applies one set of standards to themselves and their family and one set of standards to others. If you're going to loudly shout and scream about civil liberties, I suggest you start with your corrupt nasty brother, who is a head of the same Hydra that sprouted Bush. You defend prisoners from Bush , I'll defend Brooklynites from you.

Some Guy in Brooklyn


Posted by amy at 9:48 AM

February 9, 2007

Slavery? Apartheid? Barclays deal is wrong for other reasons

This week, blogger Stuart Schrader headlines The Brooklyn Paper's Letters section with his take on the Barclay's scandal:

A sounder — though less-sensational — argument against the [Barclays Bank naming-rights] deal is this: using the arena to advertise this bank is contrary to the economic reality of most Brooklynites. Ordinary folk simply have no reason to care about Barclays’ boast that in 2006, it was named “Inflation Derivatives house of the year, Commodity Derivatives house of the year, and Currency Derivatives house of the year by Risk magazine.” Say what?

Forest City Ratner garnered support of many low-income African-Americans for its mega-development by promising jobs and housing. Yet by selling the naming rights to a foreign investment bank with nary a U.S. consumer branch, FCR has shown its true colors.

Suddenly, the project is revealed to be less about the poor kids who will grow up in its shadow (literally), and much more about unfathomably rich investors

complete letter

Schrader goes into more detail about the gobal implications of the controversial deal on his blog, Picketing Henry Ford.

Posted by lumi at 12:00 PM

February 3, 2007

Is the tide turning on Paper’s ‘Blood Money’ page one?

Brooklyn Paper's letters section includes much heated commentary about the Barclay's deal. Here's one of our favorites, from Larry Penner of Great Neck, New York - go to the paper to read the rest!

To the editor,

Your recent articles concerning Barclays Bank paying $400 million to Bruce Ratner for naming rights to the Nets arena proves my previous observations why taxpayers should just say no to using public funds for any new major sports stadiums (“Blood Money,” Jan. 20).

In ancient Rome, government attempted to curry favor with the masses by offering free bread and circuses. Today, we have sports pork.

How sad that city taxpayers are continually asked to pay for new stadiums. Public dollars on the city, state and federal level are subsidizing a private-sector business. The only real beneficiaries of these expenditures are team owners and their multimillion-dollar players.

It is impossible to judge the amount of new economic activities that these so-called public benefits will generate. Between selling the stadium name (Ratner raised $400 million for himself with that one deal!), season skyboxes and reserve seating, cable, television and radio revenues, concession refreshment and souvenir sales along with rental income for other sports, rock concerts and other commercial events, it is hard to believe that Ratner and other team owners can’t finance their new stadiums by themselves.


The city’s municipal debt has grown to $55 billion. The per-resident capital debt of $6,800 makes the Big Apple number one nationally.

As Raymond Keating wrote in a Cato Institute report, “public subsidies pad the bottom lines of team owners and boost player salaries while offering no real economic benefit to the cities involved.” Scarce taxpayer funds would be better spent elsewhere.

Let the current team owners sell the stadium name, float their own bonds or issue stock to finance new stadiums! Please don’t pick the pockets of taxpayers!

Larry Penner, Great Neck, New York

Posted by amy at 9:25 AM

January 26, 2007

Ratner’s ‘Blood Money’ fills the mailbag

mailbag.gifThe Brooklyn Papers publishes several letters addressing their article about "Blood Money" and the Barclays Bank naming-rights deal.

Two say the Papers has gone too far, one blames Ratner, another appreciates local weekly for sticking their neck out when other papers won't and two letters attempt to extrapolate the argument against Barclays:

"I have noticed that your paper has taken a very non-journalistic stance towards the Atlantic Yards development, but this was too much." — Terrence J. Allen, Prospect Heights

"I bet that in Brooklyn, there are more Jewish folks than any other ethnic group who own Adolf Hitler’s beloved Benz. Just look in the driveways of the mansions on and off Ocean Parkway around the Avenue R neighborhood. Almost every driveway has a Benz or BMW in it! And, these folks are observant Jewish people." — Vigor Eriksson, Bay Ridge

"People who thought that Bruce Ratner had their best interests in mind were fooled by him and by their own ignorance. "— Brian Schnabel, Bay Ridge

"The Brooklyn Paper’s disclosure to the public of relevant facts puts The Paper in a minority media position. In fact, so few media outlets are even covering the opposition to the project.

"The New York Times, the supposed media steward for the city, has only given lip service to the issues, and the New York Post’s harsh op-ed tone is outrageously mean-spirited. The opponents to this project are essentially fighting this battle alone, dismissed by the general news media, borough president, mayor, former governor, and many fellow New Yorkers." — Charles W. McMellon Jr., Park Slope

Here's an interesting point about Citibank, though the Wilpon family, owners of the Mets, haven't courted or even financially supported a largely African-American constituency to stump for their project:

"Citibank was founded on money from the slave trade, too, you know. In November 2002, a lawsuit was filed against Citigroup and 19 other companies for reparations because of alleged support to the apartheid regime that ruled South Africa. Citibank also trafficked in Nazi gold.

"Where was your indignation when the naming rights to the new Shea Stadium was sold to Citibank?" — Mark Phillips, Carroll Gardens

"Following your logic, we should banish Thomas Jefferson from all history books because he actively supported slavery. Following your logic, we should condemn him and ignore the fact that he was the author of the Constitution, who wrote those memorable words, 'We the people.'" — Suzy Hsia, Park Slope

The Papers added, "Thomas Jefferson did not write the Constitution," and rebuts several points from this Sloper's letter.


Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

December 30, 2006

Silver messed up

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

The following letter from Brian T. Ketcham was published in the December 30th Brooklyn Papers.

To the editor, I wrote this letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver after he voted to approve the Atlantic Yards project last week (“Approved,” Dec. 23):

Dear Assemblyman Silver:

Reportedly, you voted to approve the Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards project on the basis of benefits to New York. [Yet] our analysis shows that the costs of this project overwhelm any benefits.

Our assessment of the project is that it will generate about 38,000 car and truck trips a day, creating nearly 100 million miles of travel annually adding significantly to New York’s current traffic burdens.

And Atlantic Yards will add this burden after more than 50 million square feet of other new development that has been approved for Brooklyn. Traffic from Downtown Brooklyn development will spill across the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges creating gridlock in Lower Manhattan.


Atlantic Yards planners admitted that the project would create gridlock conditions in Downtown Brooklyn, but refused to evaluate its effects on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or Lower Manhattan lest you figure out the true consequences of this project.

Adding 100 million vehicle miles of travel will increase congestion and lost productivity for motorists and truckers, will increase the number of people injured and killed in accidents and will add to already onerous environmental impacts — all increasing the costs of living and doing business in this city. The dollar cost of these impacts totals $3 billion over 30 years, dwarfing any benefits that Atlantic Yards could possibly bring to New York City.

Sadly, your legacy will be that you brought gridlock to Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan at a cost of billions to me and my neighbors. You have not only sold out Brooklyn, you have sold out your constituents in Manhattan.

Brian T. Ketcham,
Cobble Hill
The writer is a partner in Community Consulting, a development analysis firm.

Posted by amy at 12:05 PM

December 14, 2006

Letter to Markowitz - 9/26/05

MarionSlope-Observer came to our notice when she posted to Norman Oder's blog.

She's posted one item on her own blog, a letter to Marty Markowtiz concerning the scale of Atlantic Yards, a project she doesn't reject outright:

In the early 1970's I was H.D.A.'s (H.P.D.'s predecessor agency) Director at the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Project. I am obviously well versed in the history of this area and in fact live nearby in Park Slope. I was happy to read in the "Brooklyn Papers" your desire to downsize the density at the Ratner project.

I want to remind you of the height of some nearby residential buildings which were constructed in the Atlantic Terminal Urban Renewal Project on the northern side of Atlantic Avenue. At Carlton Avenue in 1968 the New York City Housing Authority constructed a single building 30 stories in height. It towers over the neighborhood and is an eyesore to any independent observer. In the early 1970's two Mitchel-Lamas were constructed: one at South Portland Ave. (between Atlantic and Hanson Pl.) of 15 stories and one at Fulton St. near Carlton Ave. of 17 stories. These middle income buildings are more contextual to the lower height brownstone neighborhood to the north.

If you look at the difference in height of these two separate types of projects one can see which fits better to the surrounding neighborhood. Accordingly, I think you can come to the same conclusion that I've made that a height of 17 stories is about the maximum that would fit into the neighborhood.


Posted by lumi at 6:17 PM

November 2, 2006

THE MAIL: The Brooklyn Context

From The New Yorker (November 6, 2006):

Paul Goldberger writes, in his criticism of Frank Gehry's designs for Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner's massive, twenty-two-acre proposed development in Brooklyn, "The problem with trying to do Bilbao on this scale is that it ceases to be an eccentric counterpoint to the context. It is the context" (The Sky Line, October 16th). We in Brooklyn knew that Gehry was embarking upon a project whose context he did not, and could not, understand back in 2003, when his designs were unveiled. Gehry exclaimed that he was excited "to build a neighborhood from scratch." The neighborhood—the context—already existed. With the renderings we've seen so far from Gehry, it's clear that he has not taken the context into account.
Daniel Goldstein
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Brooklyn, N.Y.

View letter

Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

October 28, 2006

Atlantic Yards Plan: Be Afraid. Very Afraid

NY Times letters to the editor in response to last week's "resident" profiles:

To the Editor:

I know the Atlantic Yards project will affect a number of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, but why wasn’t anyone from Prospect Heights featured in “On the Block”? Isn’t Prospect Heights where the project will be based?

Susan Fein
Prospect Heights, Brooklyn

To the Editor:

In “On the Block” (Oct. 22), about the Atlantic Yards plan in Brooklyn, all the Fort Greene residents you interviewed were against it and all the Crown Heights residents were for it. It is easy to be in favor of a project that is more than a mile from your home, is a convenient destination for shoppers or basketball fans, and is far enough away to avoid the many negative influences on quality of life for the real neighbors of the project.
Projects of such scale should be planned much more carefully than this one has been planned, and should not be rammed through by cynical politicos.

Frank A. Rogers
Park Slope, Brooklyn
The writer was an urban designer in the administration of Mayor John V. Lindsay.


Posted by amy at 9:50 PM

September 18, 2006

Doubts about Atlantic Yards poll

Project poll misses mark

Crain's NY Business, Letter to the Editor

Published on September 18, 2006

The Crain's poll purporting to show that 60% of New Yorkers approve of the Atlantic Yards project is biased (Sept. 4). Crain's doesn't report that 60% of survey respondent have doubts about the cost to the city, 58% question the scale and 72% have problems with the approval process.

The first clue that something's wrong with the poll is the first question: "How closely have you been following news about the Atlantic Yards development project?" Fifty-six percent say they haven't been following it at all. In other words, most respondents will learn what they know about the project from the questionnaire itself.

And the questions are leading. The question that got 60% of respondents saying they're somewhat or very favorable describes the existing site in negative terms. In a seeming attempt at balance, the survey asks three questions focused on criticisms and three about the project's purported benefits. In responses to the criticism, the researchers lump those expressing "some doubts" as being favorable.

The three questions about claimed benefits--affordable housing, construction jobs and bringing professional sports to Brooklyn--questions on which New Yorkers are more likely to have consensus, leave no middle ground for "some doubts," and the results sound more positive.

After hearing about benefits, respondents are asked if they approve of the project; their answers, of course, follow the script.

Daniel Goldstein
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn


Posted by lumi at 9:15 AM

September 2, 2006

My Wife Responds to the NY Times

Daily Gotham

Mole333 publishes his wife's Letter to the Editor that did not get published in The NY Times, regarding the papers endorsement of David Yassky for the 11th Congressional District [emphasis added]:

Although I fully expected it, I am disheartened to see that the Times has endorsed David Yassky's bid for Congress in the 11th District.

I live in Mr. Yassky's council district, and I disagree that his record in the Council has been as great as you say. "Job creation" and "affordable housing" are just buzzwords meaning "I support Atlantic Yards and take money from Ratner." Mr. Yassky has fallen flat on other issues that are important to the district, such as voting machine technology. Despite the fact that the question of which machines New York City will choose is directly before the Council, at a CD 11 candidate's form earlier this year, Mr. Yassky said "I don't care" when asked his position on the issue.


Posted by lumi at 8:51 AM

August 20, 2006

Disputed Plan in Brooklyn; The State Assembly and Campaign Reform (5 Letters)

New York Times publishes responses to the editorial "The Atlantic Yards Project":

Re “The Atlantic Yards Project” (editorial, Aug. 6):

I live in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, an area that stands to be greatly affected by Forest City Ratner’s development plans. I am surrounded by past Ratner projects: the soulless MetroTech, a business district held afloat by renting to many of the city’s municipalities, and the Atlantic Mall, which was apparently designed in such a way as to prevent people from congregating.

My neighborhood, and those surrounding it, is filled with unique stores, restaurants and interesting and diverse people. I love the opportunity to see the sky above the rooftops and to walk down streets that are not crowded with people.

From what I can see, this area has been developing beautifully on its own. To turn such a massive development project over to the hands of one organization, especially one with the track record of Forest City Ratner, would most surely be a mistake.

Peter LaBrusciano
Fort Greene, Brooklyn


To the Editor:

Your editorial “The Atlantic Yards Project” does not mention the findings of the state’s recently released environmental impact statement, described elsewhere in the same issue (“Cities Grow Up, Some See Sprawl,” Week in Review, Aug. 6): “According to the state study, however, the project would also create significant traffic and parking problems, require an extra school’s worth of classrooms, and cast shadows over nearby residential neighborhoods.”

Those of us who live nearby recognize the devastating impact this project would have on quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods, unless it is scaled back dramatically.

Cynthia Steele Cobble Hill, Brooklyn

To the Editor:

Only part of the Atlantic Yards area is “underdeveloped,” namely the air rights over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yards. Like SoHo, TriBeCa and Dumbo, much of the acreage sought by Forest City Ratner has experienced incremental revitalization in recent years — until stalled by the developer’s plan.

Increased density and low- and moderate-income housing are desperately needed — the 8.3-acre railyard would be a good site for that. However, density has limits. Even with the 15 percent cut you recommend, the proposed development far exceeds the capacity of the area’s social, environmental and physical infrastructure. The resulting community would be by far the densest in the country, and would be unlivable.

Of the 2,200 hundred units of affordable housing, only 900 would be low-income housing; 900 other “affordable” units would rent for $2,000 or more per month and take 10 years to complete. The subsidies for the housing would be better distributed to developers who could deliver the housing faster, in more livable and sustainable communities.

To say that the area constitutes “blight” since it is publicly controlled is specious. If it remains unchallenged, no community in the state is safe from the arbitrary actions of a private developer with ties to government.

Ronald Shiffman Park Slope, Brooklyn The writer, a professor at the Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment, was a commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission, 1990-1996.

To the Editor:

Brooklyn has prospered because of its intimate neighborhoods, its historic character and local development. That is the sort of growth that works long term; big boondoggle projects like Atlantic Yards will only kill the thing that made this borough so attractive in the first place.

You are correct that local residents are not happy about this. The astonishing thing is you don’t seem to care.

Malcolm Armstrong Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Posted by amy at 10:13 AM

August 14, 2006

New York Magazine, Letters: "Ratnerville"

Here are excerpts from Letters to the Editor from Brooklynites, published in this week's New York Magazine, in response to Chris Smith's cover story on "Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood."

"It’s important to note that this isn’t just a Brooklyn story. All New Yorkers are helping to subsidize this urban-planning disaster with their taxes—not to mention the public streets that are being given to the developer for free and the MTA’s acceptance of the lowest bid for a very valuable piece of property." — Michael Rogers

"This isn’t the equivalent of a big-box retailer shutting down mom-and-pop shops; it’s burning down one city in the name of building a greater one—destroying a way of life for a quick dollar." — Latrina Stokes

"Ultimately, our city must confront the reality that more residents are flocking to Brooklyn, as Smith himself did. And it is the responsibility of public officials like myself to plan for that growth today through projects like Atlantic Yards. You can call me a “booster,” but what I’m really advocating is a long-term vision that enables Brooklyn and New York City to preserve the income and ethnic diversity that define us." — Marty Markowitz, Borough President

"For me, the debate about Ratner’s development comes down to two things: the Atlantic Center mall and the Atlantic Terminal mall—the ugliest, strangest, most horribly designed shopping centers I have ever seen.... Ratner had his chance to prove to Brooklyn that he could develop wisely, and we already live with the consequences of his mistakes." — Kate Scelsa

Posted by lumi at 11:29 AM

August 13, 2006

Municipal Art Society Open Letter

Dear Concerned New Yorker:

Since the MAS announced its five principles to make a plan for the Atlantic Yards site work for Brooklyn, hundreds of people like you have told us they agree. It's gratifying to know that the MAS and the local community are not alone in advocating for proven planning principles to determine what gets built on one of the most important sites in Brooklyn. To learn more about the principles, click here.

Unfortunately, the latest news is not good. The state government agency leading the project, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on July 18 and scheduled a public hearing for August 23 - in the dead of summer, when the local Community Boards are in recess and many New Yorkers are on vacation. Sadly, this is further evidence that the state is not committed to conducting a fair, open and transparent public process for deciding what gets built at Atlantic Yards.

Recently, the MAS joined gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and several local officials and residents in calling on ESDC to allow more time for the EIS to be reviewed, and for hearings to begin after Labor Day. Read the MAS letter to the ESDC here, our letter to The New York Times here, and an op-ed in City Limits which discusses the public process here.

Some people wonder if the current Atlantic Yards proposal is a done deal. I can assure you that this project is not a done deal. But the MAS and local communities cannot win the fight for sound planning alone. We need your help. If you haven't done so already, go to our Atlantic Yards webpage and add your name to our growing list of people who support development in Brooklyn that works for Brooklyn.

Please forward this e-mail to your friends and neighbors. Widespread civic awareness and activism is the only way we can demonstrate to the decision-makers that the current plan for Atlantic Yards is not acceptable.

Feel free to contact the MAS staff members working on this project - Vanessa Gruen and Jasper Goldman - with your reactions, feedback and suggestions. And we'll stay in touch with you with more news and action steps.

Kent Barwick, President
Municipal Art Society

Posted by amy at 11:08 PM

Bad Manners

Letter to the Editor published in the Brooklyn Papers. Below is the original letter - the printed letter mysteriously dropped the reference to NoLandGrab...

Please let Dana Rubinstein know that being snarky and rude is not the same as being a journalist. In two articles in the July 29th paper she allows snide comments substitute for journalism.

1 "Candidate and 'Cosby' brother sing to seniors." Besides from being disrespectful to a hard working, highly respected candidate, Dana is also condescending to the seniors that the brothers were entertaining. Referring to them as the "silver-haired set" and belittling the seniors with unhumorous remarks like "in so doing, he's braved hordes of elderly ladies…" has no place in journalism. Is it alright to make fun of people just because they are older? I have news for you, Dear, you will be a senior one day yourself. This kind of mean-spirited remark has no place in society or journalism.

2 "Heath to Brooklyn: I can quit you" Besides from being woefully out of date with the story that indeed Heath and Michelle have not quit Brooklyn-see July 25 where it states… the Ledgers, "still consider New York, and specifically Brooklyn, home". This non-story is incredibly rude and simply gossip of the worst kind. A story like this has no place on the front page of an award-winning newspaper. Heath and Michelle have done their best to fit into their neighborhood by participating in neighborhood activity. The fact that they bought a second home in one of their regular work locations does not make them unusual, foolish or subject to your snide judgement. Further, they showed a good bit of courage by joining with Develop Don't Destroy and with their neighbors in the areas biggest issue-the Ratner project. Do you not want light and sky? Why would you mock them for this? You owe them an apology.

Lucy Koteen, Fort Greene

Posted by amy at 11:54 AM

July 25, 2006

Letter to the editor: Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for Nets arena

Metro NY

Aside from placing the proposed Nets arena in "downtown Brooklyn" (if built, the arena would be near "downtown" in Prospect Heights), our region's most prolific letter-to-the-editor writer Larry Penner, makes some good points and asks some serious questions about taxpayer-funding of Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan.

Regarding “Protesters: Arena on slippery slope” (July 17): The article concerning developer Bruce Ratner’s plans to build a new stadium for the Nets in downtown Brooklyn was most informative.

In too many cases, projects like this one have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, indirect infrastructure improvements, low interest loans and long-term tax exemptions — the bill to taxpayers ends up being greater than the benefits. There also is a relationship between pay-to-play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, permits, subsidies and support. Is there any relationship between these donations to elected officials and their reciprocal endorsement of this project?

If the Atlantic Yards project is so worthwhile, shouldn’t major developers such as Ratner be able to finance it using his own funds, obtain loans from banks, issue stocks or bonds? Why the need to pick the pockets of taxpayers to pay a significant portion of the bill? Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old-fashioned way: sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers’ expense and favors from elected officials.

Posted by lumi at 12:16 PM

July 24, 2006

Atlantic Yards Review (1 Letter)

The NY Times

Kent Barwick, President of the Municipal Art Society, makes a good point about the claim that Atlantic Yards has "undergone extensive public review" with more to come, in this letter to the editor:

To the Editor:

“Crowd Gathers to Protest Size of Atlantic Yards Plan” (news article, July 17) reports that the project “has undergone extensive public review, and more is assured once the developer releases an environment impact statement.”

The fact is that state-regulated projects developed in association with the Empire State Development Corporation provide for no serious opportunities for citizens to become engaged in planning for their neighborhoods. A brief chance to submit comments is hardly the extensive public review that the community should be entitled to.

With increasing regularity, the development corporation sidesteps the city’s land-use review procedures, state legislators, City Council oversight, local community boards and the voices of those most affected by new development: neighborhood residents.

Kent Barwick
President, Municipal Art Society
New York, July 18, 2006

NoLandGrab: The point Barwick makes about lack of public input is in addition to these five principles that the Municipal Art Society has suggested to make the project work better for Brooklyn:

Posted by lumi at 1:58 PM

July 20, 2006


UrbanRoom01.jpgYou've already heard it in the press: the Draft Environmental Impact Statement doesn't cover terrorism and security issues, despite their impacts on post-9/11 urban design and the fact that Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry are proposing to build the 60-story glass-and-steel "Miss Brooklyn" atop a major transportation hub.

While the State won't study or reveal the potential impacts of putting the densest residential project in the entire US over a major transportation hub, Prospect Heights resident Alan Rosner keeps asking the tough questions and entreating the press to get some answers.

Glass-clad skyscrapers, next to a glass sports arena, above the third largest transportation hub in the city, may soon be coming to… Brooklyn. And no one has assumed responsibility for the risks Brooklyn is being told to swallow.

The State agency in charge, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), declares it will NOT address post-9/11 security issues — issues that were raised by local elected officials, the three affected community boards and more than 30 community groups, as well as at official Boro Board meetings with the ESDC in attendance.

Governor Pataki will soon be leaving Albany. Has even one reporter asked any of the candidates vying to replace him about their positions on the ESDC’s disregard of the public’s safety concerns? Somehow, the press seems to have decided there’s no story there.

Meanwhile, public officials outraged over the 40% cut in New York's Department of Homeland Security grants have remained silent on security in the heart of Brooklyn: Mayor Bloomberg, who gave over control to the State, silent; our own Mr. Security, Senator Schumer, silent.

In high-profile Manhattan, publicized security problems at the Freedom Tower led to a re-thinking of that project, ultimately resulting in a far smarter design. Terrorism concerns did not prevent development from going forward. Here in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards project, roughly as big, easily as consequential … well it’s … fuggedaboudit!!!

Due to the ESDC’s unique understanding of due diligence, the developer, not the State, could easily end up being the party making the following crucial public safety decisions, behind closed doors, with no oversight: * How strong should all that glass be? * Should there even be that much glass there?
* What fire ratings ought the structural steel have?

So, when do we learn who will determine our safety and well-being? And, how come no one appears interested in finding out?

What Ratner Wins By Ignoring Security
Fortunately for Ratner, project financials will not have to include 30 years of costly Terrorism Insurance premiums. For 16 towers and a sports arena, premiums could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Will the public perhaps have to step in to cover this “unanticipated” cost? No one has addressed this question.

Also, the ESDC will never have to acknowledge that this project concentrates so much additional risk at this particular location, nor that it irreversibly alters Brooklyn’s existing risk profile. Neither will the ESDC be compelled to indicate that the alternative project proposals, without skyscrapers or sports arenas, would not create those concerns!

Finally, with State control trumping city building codes, we may be left with Ratner helping to determine: * standards for exterior glass blast resistance, * the fire ratings for the structural steel, * emergency stairwell sizes, * whether or not Fire Department radio repeaters will be installed in the high rises, * whether there will be bio-chemical detectors and proper air-circulation systems, * and a host of other critical design and construction standards.

Will cost or public safety prevail? And if “standards” are belatedly announced, will they include appropriate post-9/11 enhancements?

How Brooklyn Loses
Indirectly, the biggest cost to Brooklyn communities could be that increased risks lead property- and small-business-insurance providers to raise premiums or withdraw from the market altogether (See NY Daily News, So this is a terror target? 03/27/06).

Issues of uninsurability could affect affordable housing in ways that dwarf Ratner's pledges for the Atlantic Yards. Allstate’s response to Hurricane Katrina was to reduce its share of Brooklyn’s homeowners' insurance market (See, AP, HOMEOWNERS FAR AWAY PAY KATRINA'S DAMAGE, 06/22/06). Could this become one of those “who could ever have imagined” scenarios?

The greatest ongoing impact will likely come from the ESDC's ignoring of the traffic implications of the need for security barriers and vehicle inspections when the arena is in use, or when the Feds raise the Terror Alert Status. Likewise, since the NYPD can close streets for any security reason, the ESDC will not have to model those impacts, either. We, however, will have to live with whatever the ESDC’s Environmental Impact Statement ignores.

Indeed, the ESDC won’t have to address the implications for evacuations — or for that matter, NYPD and FDNY response times — in any sort of emergency situation. Given Brooklyn’s development-driven infrastructure overloads at the Atlantic Avenue transit station and the Flatbush, Atlantic & 4th Avenue intersections, such consequences would likely be unacceptable if publicly acknowledged.

What I haven't yet mentioned — just two years after the Madrid train bombings, a year after the London Metro bombings, and days after Mumbai’s rail bombings — is that the Atlantic Avenue station was the target of a failed suicide bomb plot in 1997.

One positive development: Ratner’s arena was originally to have sub-surface parking beneath the arena. The community protested and suddenly, it’s gone. However, it now appears that it was the NBA that determined it is unsafe to have parking beneath an arena, not any state or city agency — another story the press missed.

Alan Rosner
July, 2006

Posted by lumi at 12:23 AM

June 24, 2006


Letter to the Editor from native Brooklynite Greg Holder in response to the NY Post article 'NET' RESULT: TRAFFIC CHAOS

Mr. Calder,

In reading your article in today's edition of "the NY Post" about the controversy surrounding the proposed 'Atlantic Yards' development you presented the basic viewpoints as represented by the opposing sides. However, there are a few points that the proponents of this project seem never to address in their public response to their critics.

As mentioned in your article this proposed project will add over 6,800 new residential units and approximately 20,000 new residents. Additionally, it proposes the addition of 853,000 square feet of additional office and retail space. The project's proponents, including Borough President Marty Markowitz, generally dismiss the impact of the additional traffic generated by these residents on the transit system, vehicular traffic and parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. It is also said that the additional influx of approximately 18,000 fans to the arena on game nights will also be of minimal impact.

To begin with, this is already the most heavily trafficked and congested area in the borough of Brooklyn on any average day. Conditions there already border on massive gridlock. In viewing their responses to critics, it seems that the developers and supporters of this proposed project would have everyone else assume that the none of the new residents would have vehicles of their own. This is illogical. It is also illogical to assume that they would neither attempt to drive their vehicles during peak hours, or need parking.

Similarly, it would seem as if they would also ask everyone to assume that none of the retailers and their employees, and none of the people working in the new offices would drive their vehicles into the area. That too is preposterously illogical. Their arguments also fail to recognize that where there are offices and retailers there will, inevitably, be deliveries, and delivery vehicles. Invariably, this means additional trucks on Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, and the corollary increased congestion.

In your article you referred to their references to the 18,000 fans that would come to the arena for games. The implication of this is the suggestion that to the degree that these fans would be a problem, it is a problem that would occur only 46 - 60 times per year (41 home games + exhibitions and possible playoffs).

What this position tries not to address is the fact that nobody builds an arena such as the proposed arena, and expects to operate it only 40-60 times a year. Invariably, there will be other events - the circus, rodeo, ice skating, track and field, boxing, wrestling, conventions & exhibitions, college basketball, tennis, demolition derby, auto shows, concerts, etc. The operator of an arena of this type would certainly seek to maximize its profitability, and to do this they would book as many events as possible. Each of these events has the potential to draw thousands (or tens of thousands) of visitors to the arena, and into the neighborhood. With these visitors there will be additional traffic, and additional congestion.

In spite of suggestions that there will be financial incentives for season ticket holders to use public transportation, this only affects a small percentage of the events I just described. Moreover, it may only involve a small percentage of those, even, who attend Nets games.

Is there any place more crowded than midtown Manhattan? Is there anyplace where on-the-street parking is less available, and commercial parking more expensive, than midtown Manhattan? Nevertheless, there are many people attending events at 'the Garden', who choose, in spite of the cost and the traffic, to drive into midtown instead of using public transportation. I, myself, have done this on many occasions. One reason, is that when you consider the cost of using public transportation, even during off-peak hours, for a family of four or five it is sometimes cheaper to drive. Also, where MSG brings thousands of people into midtown for events, it is not situated in the midst of what is essentially a residential neighborhood.

There is also another issue that is 'glossed over' by the project's developers and supporters. This additional traffic would be added to the additional traffic from other developments in the 'downtown' Brooklyn area. There is the continued expansion of Metrotech. There is the Mark Morris Theatre and the other proposed arts venues. There is the proposed addition to the Brooklyn Museum (to be located in the space occupied by the BAM parking lot and a nursery between Ashland Place, Flatbush Avenue and Lafayette). There are already other residential projects underway, such as the tower on Flatbush near Seventh Avenue, that will add to the density of the area. Finally, just over a mile down Atlantic Avenue are the new piers with several cruise lines as their tenants. Is it likely that persons embarking on cruises from Brooklyn will travel to the piers on public transportation with their luggage?

Finally, one could have less fears about these types of concerns if there were greater confidence in the developer's sensitivity to these types of concerns. However, there are reasons why this is difficult for some. In presenting plans for Phase II of the Atlantic Terminal Development, the Ratner Group had initially proposed locating the loading dock for the site directly in front of One Hanson Place. As this was a one-way street, which because of the presence of the bank and the many doctors' and dentists' offices in the tower, had extremely heavy foot traffic, this did not seem to be a reasonable location for the loading dock and the traffic congestion it would cause. It was also pointed out that this was a street frequently used by school children utilizing the subways below to go to and from schools in the area, especially Brooklyn Tech. The dock was moved to the other side of the site.

There were also concerns raised about the effect of shadows that would be cast by the office tower proposed for that development project on the building at One Hanson Place and on the Methodist Church that is next door. It was suggested that the tower be moved closer to Atlantic Avenue on the development site. The Ratner Group's representatives responded that this would not be possible because, "a platform constructed over the rail yards wouldn't support the weight of an office tower of that size". Yet, five years later the same Ratner Group proposes the construction of an arena and seventeen high-rise buildings on platforms over the same railyards, some of these towers to be sixty stories high. I guess one could only be amazed at the advances in construction technology in just five or six years.

Sincerely, Greg Holder

Posted by amy at 6:09 AM

June 14, 2006


Crain's NY Business, Letter to the Editor
June 5, 2006

To the editor:

In the May 22 article "Building in Brooklyn," Crain's wrote that the first mission for Jim Stuckey of Forest City Ratner "is to steer past the media-savvy blog masters who have mounted a David-like effort to stop Atlantic Yards."

As a journalist who closely follows the Atlantic Yards project in my blog, I can tell you how Stuckey and his company "steer past" us unpaid volunteers. They spend large sums on public relations materials and paid print advertising; they don't answer my questions; and they barred me from the May 11 press conference at which architect Frank Gehry discussed new designs for the project. Perhaps they were afraid of questions about Mr. Gehry's former claim that the development would be "coming way back," about their plan for "interim surface parking" on two large areas of the proposed project footprint, and about Forest City's outlandish (yet often-repeated) claim that Atlantic Yards would provide $6 billion in new tax revenue to the city and state.

Norman Oder

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

June 11, 2006

Letters to the Editor, New York Times

New York Times

Building a Mistake

To the Editor:

Re "Skyline for Sale" [June 4]:

Nicolai Ouroussoff makes excellent points but doesn't go far enough. More than the skyline is for sale at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development; what has also been sold is a streetscape that is perhaps the most congested in Brooklyn even before a basketball stadium is plopped there.

What we have here is a long-discredited return to the urban mega-projects that destroyed downtown neighborhoods across America in the last half of the 20th century. We might expect a developer to act like a developer, but why are public servants repeating the mistake?

Michael Whiteman

The Architect as Distraction

To the Editor:

It was somewhat heartening to read Mr. Ouroussoff's criticism of government with regard to the Atlantic Yards project. Frank Gehry is being used by Bruce Ratner as a lightning rod, to attract criticism and spare public discussion of what appears to be a classic back-room sweetheart deal, which will put hundreds of millions of the public's money into the pockets of a single developer.

Tony Daniels


Posted by amy at 2:04 PM

May 23, 2006

Metro NY, Letters to the Editor:


Regarding “Letting a thousand projects bloom” (May 17): When Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano replied to your question about the Atlantic Yards proposal by saying, “We didn’t really have to use eminent domain because there were friendly condemnations done,” he’s either betraying a woeful degree of disengagement, living in a fantasy world or lying.

Condemnation hasn’t happened yet with this project, but if it does, it certainly won’t be “friendly” — it will most likely be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It’s just this type of “leadership” from Mr. Gargano and the ESDC that leaves New Yorkers with a hole in the ground in lower Manhattan nearly five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Costs to taxpayers outweigh benefits


Regarding “Letting a thousand projects bloom” (May 17): New York City prospered for centuries prior to the creation of various city and state development corporations over the past two decades. In too many cases, projects have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers, commonly known as corporate welfare. Between direct government funding, low interest loans and long term tax exemptions, the bill to taxpayers may be greater than the benefits. There also is a relationship between Pay for Play campaign contributions from developers to elected officials looking for favorable legislation, permits and subsidies.

Don’t forget the conflict of interest for senior staff from city or state regulatory and permitting agencies. Too many leave at the end of any mayoral or governor administration to become employees or consultants to the same developers they previously oversaw. Too many mega developers try to purchase the support of local community groups by making so-called voluntary donations. They also make promises for capital improvements, which after the major project is completed don’t always appear.

If these projects are worthwhile, why can’t major developers use their own funds or obtain loans from banks, like medium and small businesses?

Real business people who believe in capitalism build their companies on their own. How sad that some don’t want to do it the old fashioned way, by sweat and hard work. They are looking for shortcuts in the form of huge subsidies at taxpayers expense and favors from elected officials.

E-mail your letters to: Keep them as brief as possible.

Posted by lumi at 9:48 AM

May 22, 2006

Brooklyn Papers, Letters:
Ratner's fix fails to please critics

In reference to your recent article on Frank Gehry's new Atlantic Yards design ("Meet Miss Brooklyn," May 13), maybe we really should comment Gehry. After all, he said his new designs were the result of listening to the body language of Brooklyn.

No wonder his tower looks like someone giving the arena the finger!

— Deb Goldstein, Sunset Park

Words to live by

I recently received Ratner's 12-page flyer ("Ratner's glossy fantasyland," May 6) and am sending the "reply card" to you rather than to Ratner because, I suspect, you will pay it more attention than he will.

— Howard Klang, Brooklyn Heights

As for Marty...


Here's an open letter to Borough President Markowitz:

When I spoke with you some time ago, at the march to save the historic view corridor between the statue of Minerva in Brooklyn's Greenwood Cemetery and the Statue of Liberty (to refresh your memory: I was the guy in the "Yo Markowitz: It's the Community, Stupid!" traffic-sign t-shirt), you had just made a great little speech about the importance of protecting the human-scale quality of low-rise Brooklyn.

In this speech, it sounded as if you had swiped your talking points from Dan Goldstein [of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn]. But your words so contradicted your position on the hugely non-contextual Atlantic Yards project that I had to confront you with the disparity.

First, you claimed that the area in which Ratner had staked his greedy claim was not residential, as opposed to the outlying "suburban" areas of Brooklyn — Bay Ridge, etc. — which, you said, should be protected from out-of-scale overdevelopment. That, of course, is an absurd assertion. Prospect Heights is largely residential.

If you'd bother to walk around the neighborhood with your eyes even half open, you'd see that most of it is low-rise, livable, lovable Brooklyn.

Second, you told me to just wait and see. You suggested that Ratnerville would be scaled back considerably. But last week's unveiling of architect Frank Ghery's slightly revised design puts the lie to that claim as well.

This thing is still huge! It's even larger than the original plan—which is the one you and I had been discussion.

Yes, this new plan is a tad smaller than the previously unveiled "Vegas" version, but still bigger than the horrendous original.

To say that it's scaled back is to engage in the same kind of flim-flammery that unscrupulous retailers do when they mark-up prices before a sale, and then offer a small percentage off the previously hiked price.

Gavin Smith, Park Slope

Posted by lumi at 10:13 AM

May 16, 2006

Letter to the Editor, re: NY Times/Atlantic Yards "infomercial"

Brooklynite Doug Hillstrom makes a good point in a letter sent to the editor of The New York Times:


Dear Sir or Madam:

Is your video on the "new" Atlantic Yards proposal an infomercial? If Mr. Ratner did in fact pay for this piece the Times should have labeled it "ADVERTISEMENT."

If the piece is not a paid advertisement, your news staff should be embarrassed. As usual, pro forma mention is made to "opponents" of the Atlantic Yards project, but no "opponent" appears in the video, while Mr. Gehry and Mr. Olin offer their lengthy appologia for the Atlantic Yards design. The video is more advertisement than news; you should give a spokesperson from "Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn" equal time.

Doug Hillstrom

Posted by lumi at 2:39 PM

May 13, 2006


New York Post prints the following letters to the editor in response to this article:

Contrary to Andrea Peyser's latest diatribe, thousands of lifelong Brooklynites oppose Bruce Ratner's 24- acre land grab ("Celebrity Moles Boro-ing Under B'klyn's Hopes," May 9).

Did it make Peyser feel good to imply that their views somehow belittle poor Tajmere Clark's murder?

And that hypodermic needle trick has already been done by Ratner's p.r. team. Doesn't Peyser have any new ideas up her sleeve?

Maybe she resorted to those ugly tactics because she knows the Ratner boondoggle can't stand up to the slightest criticism, let alone real public scrutiny.

If hate wins the day, Ratner has an invaluable ally in Peyser.

If common sense and the democratic process win, she and Ratner are both in big trouble.
Jezra Kaye


I rent in the giant footprint of Ratner's plan.

Ratner's architect, Frank Gehry, boasts that this is his chance to "create a neighborhood from scratch."

Memo to Gehry: The neighborhood is already here. I live in it, and so do 15,000 others.

We live here because we want to, and we think it's beautiful.

While I don't share Peyser's contemptuous take on Prospect Heights, I do agree that movie stars, who know the neighborhood even less than she does, look pretty foolish as pop-up Jane Jacobses.
Kris Hackett

Peyser's venomous and utterly misinformed article warps reality and defrauds her readers - but that's her stock in trade.

Just one paragraph of lies shows that her column's best use is as fish wrap.

Twenty-six of our 33 board members live within walking distance of the proposed project.

Most have lived in Brooklyn for decades, contributing to its evolution through journalism, fiction-writing, filmmaking, art, architecture, design, music, acting, firefighting, education, publishing, preservation, business, religion, politics, activism and civic leadership.

The remaining seven are experts in issues related to Ratner's proposed plan.

The project, which includes 16 towers and an arena, proposes abusing eminent domain and taking homes, businesses and city streets in the midst of five thriving, low-rise, historic residential neighborhoods.
Daniel Goldstein
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Brooklyn

Posted by amy at 2:30 PM

May 6, 2006

Letter to Ratner

Dear Mr. Ratner:

I received in the mail today your awesome, multicolored, multi-photographic brochure. But, there were a number of serious, and necessarily deliberate omissions. Your publicist/PR firm/spin doctor failed to include the most important and revealing item: a pictorial rendition of your project! To be clear, there is no image whatsoever in your beautiful, utopian and, I bet and hope, very expensive mailing (how many lucky Brooklynites were targeted?), of the actual visual appearance of the buildings you are planning for the site. There are two further, glaring and deliberate omissions: (1) any discussion of, or proposal/planning for the enhanced infrastructures that would be needed to support the high influx of new residents, new office workers, new cars, etc. that your project would generate; and (2) what the cost of that indispensable infrastructure -- sewers, roadways, parking, public transportation, schools, etc. -- would be, and who would shoulder it (we the taxpayers, perhaps? You don't say!). Finally, I really appreciate the prepaid "survey" card. Too bad that it does not provide for any dissenting answers! You must really think that you are dealing with a bunch of illiterate, uninformed and disenfranchised, blighted-neighborhood dwelling Brooklynites! WRONG on all counts!

And why, pray, should we support you and your ill-designed and ill-conceived project, given what you and your pseudo architect/s have already bestowed upon us? The horrendous shopping mall at Atlantic and Flatbush? No self-respecting person could ever claim title to that abomination! The hideously ugly, irredeemably offensive Court Street Movie Theaters? C'mon!

Please delete me from your mailing list, it will be a saving to you and one less piece of junk mail I have to recycle. Thank you.

Beatrice Beccari

Posted by amy at 12:42 PM

May 2, 2006

Letter to the editor: Why are Ratner buildings hazards?

Metro NY

Regarding “More Nets arena demolition today” (April 25): How is that so many buildings now owned by Bruce Ratner suddenly have all these health hazards? Must be a new record for the city. I smell a rat!


Posted by lumi at 10:26 AM

April 11, 2006

Letter to the Editor: "Local communities"

NY Metro
Fort Greene
April 11, 2006

Why is the mayor giving away our land to build new sports centers? There is a massive land transference taking place in the city right now. Our homes, our local businesses and our parks are all vulnerable under the Bloomberg/Doctoroff doctrine that supports the rich and well-connected by using our precious tax dollars along with huge tax incentives to aid these land takeovers. It doesn't seem to matter that the local communities are locked out of the process and no matter how many neighborhood people protest, they are written off as a few naysayers. Imagine if these public relations efforts and money were put into solving the problems of homelessness, hunger, asthma and education.

Posted by lumi at 7:38 AM

February 12, 2006

Helloooooo Rheingold!

Gumby Fresh writes an open letter to Steve Hindy, proprietor of Brooklyn Brewery:

Your support for moving the Nets arena to the Atlantic Yards site is wrong on so many levels. First, it alienates large numbers of people in the Borough, many of whom are natural customers. While residents of Williamsburg may have become resigned to huge skyscrapers growing up amongst them, those living in the vicinity of the Nets project have become very alarmed at the scale of the development.

More importantly, the plan calls for the demolition of a bar that sells consistently drinkable Brooklyn Lager, at a very reasonable price. I refer, of course, to Freddy's, and your connivance at its destruction will repel every discerning drinker in the P Heights neighbourhood.


Posted by amy at 11:53 AM

January 7, 2006

Point and counterpoint on Ratner's 'Domain'

lucyBendersm.gif Click here to read the full smackdown between local resident Lucy Koteen and FCR vice-president Bruce Bender regarding manufacturing blight.

You can read Koteen's unabridged letter to the Brooklyn Papers here:

Always Look at the Blight Side of Life Bruce Ratner desperate for some activity at his Atlantic Yards project decided to take blight into his own hands. Because his project is under review of the State Environmental Quality Review Process (SEQRA), jurisdiction over his properties are in limbo. NYS requires that once a review is under way the site must remain in the same condition throughout the review. So what's an eager developer to do? He manufactures blight!!! In this case, claim hazardous building conditions. Buildings that were recently occupied are now considered unsafe. Anyone involved with rehab of old buildings knows that a property does not go from fully habitable to unsafe in less than a year. Is it possible that these buildings received human assistance in an effort to accelerate decay under Ratner's ownership?

What is most suspicious is that after agreeing to allow local elected leaders to enter the buildings with a licensed structural engineer, the Ratner clan rescinded their permission for the engineer to accompany the elected officials. For a company that claims to do their work in full view of the public, the public must ask themselves, "what are they hiding?" I can only guess that Ratner's motive is to scare local residents and businesses into thinking that the project has begun and they should get out of his way, now. He also must convince his impatient investors that there is activity at the yards, so they should sit tight with their investment. The result could be that an intact neighborhood will have holes punched into it. With enough empty lots Ratner hopes to create enough “blight” to justify eminent domain condemnations. This is nothing more than old fashion block busting.

Lucy Koteen

Posted by amy at 11:12 AM

October 27, 2005

Daily News: Letter to the editor (Published)

More letters from Brooklynites were published in today's Daily News in response to Monday's Daily New editorial screed.

Crying foul ...
Brooklyn: The editorial on the Nets arena proposal ("A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn," Oct. 24) fails to acknowledge that opposition to the project dates to 2003, when it was made public. A project of this size causes problems that can cost the city and state huge sums of money. Bruce Ratner's company assumes no financial ability if it fails. The opponents are fighting for the people of the whole state.

Steve Hart

... over stadium
Brooklyn: Re "A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn": A neighborhood already exists in Brooklyn. In fact, many neighborhoods exist in Brooklyn. The people you disparage love and respect Brooklyn neighborhoods and their neighbors. They are fighting to save civil rights: the right to own property, the right to freedom of speech and the right to a democratic process.

Annette Bombarger


Posted by lumi at 10:17 AM

October 26, 2005

Daily News: Letter to the editor (Published)

Daily News


Brooklyn: Brooklyn residents are to be applauded, not slammed, for fulfilling their civic responsibility of looking at the many environmental issues that need to be weighed in the enormous Atlantic Yards project ("A neighborhood grows in Brooklyn," editorial, Oct. 24). This is not a case of NIMBY (and name-calling isn't nice), but a state-mandated review that rightly insists on citizen participation.

Lucy Koteen


Posted by lumi at 8:22 PM

October 24, 2005

Letter to the Editor: Daily News

To the editor:

Your Oct. 24 editorial ("A Neighborhood Grows in Brooklyn") criticizes Brooklynites for commenting on the proposed $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project at a state-mandated public hearing, the first of only two for this project. We offered our comments in good faith, not to stop the project, but to make this project work for Brooklyn. To dismiss as "NIMBY" anyone who criticizes the project reflects a gross misunderstanding of the state's environmental review process. If no one is allowed to criticize the project, then why bother with hearings at all?

-David Alquist, Secretary
Park Slope Civic Council

Posted by lumi at 9:16 PM

August 28, 2005

Open Letter to Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum

Dear Betsy,

It is a shame that my Public Advocate would refer to someone who wants to stay in his chosen place to live as a "hold out" (as said twice on the TV debate, August 28th). This is the language of the developer not of someone who advocates for peoples right to choose a location to live or set up a business and then stand by their choice. It is not the Constitutional Right of a developer to be able to force a resident out of his home or to buy out that resident using the threat of eminent domain.

Do you get your news from the developer who is forcing people out of their homes? Eminent Domain has been spoken about since the beginning of the public debate on the Atlantic Yards project. The developer has clearly said he would be using eminent domain from the beginning of the discussion. People have sold their properties because they were threatened with Eminent Domain. Is this your concept of free enterprise? Some people have principles that they believe in and some people do not want to leave the home and neighborhood that they have chosen to invest their time, money and energy into. Most people are outraged by the tactics and strategies that Bruce Ratner has used to get his way for a project that no one has asked for. You are choosing to wait until an unjust process is finished before speaking out against the tactics of the developer. Is that your concept of speaking out against an injustice or speaking out in support of the citizens who are being bullied? Is you principle then, "that the ends justifies the means?" If so then you should clearly say that this is your principle.

Why have you chosen to take your information from the developer rather than from the thousands of people who oppose this planned occupation of their neighborhood. We can't expect the developer to hold back his unbridled ambition but we certainly have a right to expect our Pubic Advocate to take the side of the people who are being displaced and bullied.

Lucy Koteen, Fort Greener for Organic Development

NLG: The Public Advocate's office is up for grabs - the primaries are September 13. One candidate with an impeccable record on eminent domain - and who is fighting the Atlantic Yards project - is Norman Siegal. His website is here.

From Norman's website:

Gotbaum continues to contradict herself on the role of eminent domain for private use in the Atlantic Yards/downtown Brooklyn project: “It’s not my understanding that the developer at Atlantic Yards is going to use eminent domain.” (NY1 debate, 8-23-05).

Norman said “The threatened use of eminent domain has been part of the Atlantic Yards project since day one. People need to know where the Public Advocate stands on this issue. My position is clear: I do not support eminent domain for private gain.” (WNBC debate, 8-28-05).

By the way, a developer does not initiate eminent domain proceedings—the government does.

The public advocate's website is here. Good luck finding an email address...

Posted by amy at 6:05 PM

August 7, 2005

Ratner arena a terror concern

Letter to the Editor of the Brooklyn Papers regarding the inherent and dangerous flaws in the Ratner plan:

To the editor:

As a co-author of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s white paper, “Terrorism, Security & the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise & Arena Development Project,” I would like to clarify two points in your July 16 article headlined, “Atlantic Terminal Terror Fear.”

While the white paper identifies various terrorist scenarios, one of its primary purposes is to show how the project’s location and design flaws create serious consequences even if NO terrorist event ever occurs.

Not only will there be direct costs that have never been included in anyone’s budgets — such as what to do about the Arena’s easily targeted street-side glass walls, or the Fire Department’s need for equipment for handling highrise fires and rescues in a borough that has been low-rise up until now — but cumulatively these costs could be high enough to affect the underlying financing of the project. One cost alone, that of terrorism insurance, could easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars, over the life of the project, when current federal laws covering such costs expire at the end of this year.

Original article
The White Paper: "Terrorism, Security & the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise & Arena Development Project"

Other non-financial costs are equally problematic. The most devastating of them concerns the impacts of traffic with its public health — read asthma — implications. [And] the need to secure the arena during special events, such as NBAplayoffs will inevitably create outright gridlock.

Brooklynites only have to think back to last August’s massive three-day nightmare when an elevated terror alert out of Washington, D.C., required the inspection of all commercial vehicles crossing the Manhattan Bridge. As noted, no actual terrorist event was required for there to be real costs to all of Downtown Brooklyn and its economy.

I have been exploring the security-related issues of this out-of-scale project since well before ever hearing of DDDB. In fact, the article’s indication that this issue has been brought up in various community meetings over the past year is really a reference to my own attempt to make security concerns a part of the public discourse. So while I support DDDB in all their efforts, I have maintained an independent stance to better present my findings. Most of these concerns have now been included in various pre-scoping documents being readied for the upcoming Environmental Impact Study.

The response of politicians has been mixed. Some, like [Councilwoman] Letitia James, [state Sen.] Velmanette Montgomery and Chris Owens [legislative aide to his father, Rep. Major Owens, who has expressed interest in running for the congressional seat] have been very accepting, while others have not.

Some, like mayoral candidates [City Council Speaker] Gifford Miller or [Rep.] Anthony Weiner have been disingenuous at best. Interestingly, [Borough President] Marty Markowitz, at a meeting of the Dean St. Block Association said it would be a reasonable thing to conduct a thorough security review of the project as was performed for the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. — Alan M. Rosner, Prospect Heights

Posted by amy at 2:03 PM