Atlantic Yards Hearing Set for… When You’re Out of Town

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The view up Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn, looking northward. Before Frank Gehry and After. Renderings by Jonathan Cohn, BrooklynViews

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Forest City Ratner’s "Atlantic Yards" project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn was released today. It can be found here on the Empire State Development Corporation’s web site.

The release of this detailed, 15-inch thick document starts the sixty-day clock running on the public input process. The Public Hearing on the DEIS has been scheduled for Wednesday, August 23, 2006, 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at New York City Technical College (Klitgord Auditorium), 285 Jay Street, Brooklyn.

Since this project is circumventing New York City Council and public processes, this hearing may very well be the only opportunity for the public to have a voice on this $4.2 billion, 22-acre development proposal that includes a 19,000-seat arena and 17 high rise buildings.

You may note that the ESDC has scheduled the public hearing for the absolute deadest, dog days of summer. Not surprisingly, Candace Carponter at Develop — Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has something to say about that:

"Releasing this hugely important document and holding a hearing in the heat of summer when community experts and residents are preoccupied with family obligations, vacations, and child care is another sign of this public agency’s complete disregard for the public it is supposed to serve. There is simply no reason that the ESDC could not have waited a few weeks to release the DEIS for public review-by both project supporters and opponents- to afford the affected communities a meaningful opportunity to respond."

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods is holding three "DEIS Handbook" workshops to help members of the public understand and participate in the limited public input process.

Tuesday, July 18, 7 pm, Park Slope Methodist Church, 493 8th Street at 6th Avenue.
Thursday, July 20, 7 pm, St. Francis College, Callahan Center, 182 Remsen Street.
Tuesday, July 25, 7 pm, Duryea Presbyterian Church, 362 Sterling Place.

  • NoOne

    This goes beyond complete disregard for the community. The timing has to have been intentional; they are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to AVOID the community and ram this down our throats.

    I say sue the bastids.

  • c

    All of this is straight out of the Robert Moses playbook.

  • essence

    Robert Moses said that building a stadium at Flatbush & Atlantic would create a “China Wall” of traffic. The current project makes Moses look quaint.

  • c

    essence – I was referring more to the tactics, rather than the project specifics.

  • Sean

    Reminds me of pictures looking south on Park Avenue pre- and post-PanAm (now MetLife) building.

    Not good.

  • g

    “…preoccupied with family obligations, vacations, and child care…”

    So when would have been a better time? When citizens were preoccupied with back-to-school, the high holidays, and other things that take up people’s schedules? If they had waited “a few weeks” people would have found something else to complain about.

    I’m not saying the AY project should go forward as planned, but this line of reasoning speaks of NIMBY politics at its worst. They should give people more time simply because 60 days it not enough time to review such a huge study. That people are busy with vacations is a ridiculous excuse.

  • G,

    A better time? That’s easy.

    How about any of the other ten months of the year when the city’s Community Boards are in session and not officially on recess. Regardless of school, work and other commitments, from September through June you will find thoughtful, diligent and, yeah, sometimes difficult community members working on important local oversight issues via their Community Boards.

    You can support the project and still acknowledge that the ESDC and the developer scheduled the one public hearing on the project at this particular time to limit public input, participation and hassle. I don’t think that is either NIMBY or conspiracy theory. I think that that is simply brass knuckles NYC development politics. 

    If you’ve been following the story for the past couple of years then you know that this is completely consistent with the way that the "public process" for this project has been run since the very beginning. Brooklynites will recall, as well, that the public comment period for the massive Downtown Brooklyn Rezoning was scheduled during the Christmas vacation a few years back.

  • g

    I do not support the AY project I’m not saying that the process isn’t backhanded and designed to screw the public in all types of ways. It just seems to me that if they scheduled it for another time people would have other reasons to complain. When are people with kids NOT busy?

    That Community Boards are not in session hardly prevents “community experts and residents” from attending this hearing. If they hold it later we might be faced with them saying, “We don’t have enough time to consider your recommendations.”

    I do remember the meeting scheduled during Christmas break. Had they scheduled it in the weeks before Christmas people would have pitched a fit about how busy they were before the holidays. Had they scheduled it during the first week of January, we would have heard that people were busy getting settled back at work after their vacations.

    If the issue is so important, and I believe it is since it will affect the community for generations, it’s worth getting a sitter or missing a day at the Hamptons.

  • G,

    It’s always a huge, time-consuming effort for a community to get itself together to process issues and respond with one voice, especially when working to respond to a big, resourceful, well-organized corporation.

    I’m on the Community Board and all I can tell you is that scheduling a major public hearing for the last two weeks of August really has a major impact on a community’s ability to get itself together to provide thoughtful input.

    A lot of people go away during the summer for modest breaks or simply try to focus on other things. Not just rich people or people with a "house in the Hamptons." It is very hard to get community groups to process and sign off on decisions when even just one or two members are out of town for periods of time.

    I think that it is entire fair for community advocates to say that scheduling this hearing at this time is a contemptuous and un-Democratic move by the ESDC.

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