Atlantic Yards hearing: “It’s Déjà vu, all over again”

State Senator Bill Perkins, Committee Chair

State Senator Bill Perkins, Committee Chair

Unfortunately, yesterday’s New York State Senate Hearing on Atlantic Yards, chaired by Senator Bill Perkins, seemed like a replay of the hearing on the Draft EIS almost 3 years ago:

What’s more depressing for me is that most Atlantic Yards opponents and supporters, and particularly those living in and around the footprint, all really want the same things, but we stand on opposite sides of a seemingly impenetrable divide.  I believe we all want:

  • development over the MTA’s Vanderbilt Rail Yard, which only makes up 8 of the 22 acres of the proposed project site
  • development that produces, first and foremost, affordable housing and living wage jobs for area residents
  • development that does not displace residents
  • development that’s funded prudently and makes the most of our limited tax dollars (seems that Atlantic Yards would be a net loss, per the Independent Budget Office [pdf] )
  • development that enhances and encourages diverse and robust growth of local business and amenities

How we attempt to achieve these goals is where we part ways.

Supporters seem to believe that Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development is the way to go, despite the fact that the basketball arena, a structure that nobody needs, would be built first.  The touted affordable housing would be built soon thereafter, so says the developer.  Supporters point to their Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) as a guarantee that FCR is legally-bound to follow-through on its promises, although it’s not legally binding.  I doubt the penalties in the CBA would ever be enforced if (when) FCR reneges on its “guarantees,” and I know that the supporters aren’t naive enough to take FCR’s word at face value.  I suppose they figure any agreement with the developer is better than no agreement.

I won’t go into in-depth analysis of the details of the hearing, as Norman Oder’s thorough coverage at Atlantic Yards Report is far more comprehensive than anything I could put together.

You can view more of my photos from the hearing here.

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