BrooklynSpeaks goes to court for accountability on Atlantic Yards

Date/Time: Tuesday, January 19, 2010, 2:30 PM
Location: NY Supreme Court, 80 Centre Street, Room 328 in Manhattan
Contact: Jo Anne Simon – (917) 685-3747
Linda Gross, LCG Communications – (718) 853-5568; (917) 767-1141

On January 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM, New York Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman will hear arguments in a suit filed by several BrooklynSpeaks sponsors, elected officials and individuals challenging the approval of the Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan. The case will be heard in Room 328, 80 Centre Street in Manhattan.

When suit was filed on November 19, Atlantic Yards’ developer, Forest City Ratner, spoke dismissively of the suit being just another in a string of litigation by project opponents. But the opposite is true. “BrooklynSpeaks’ member organizations have tried for three years to engage the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) regarding impacts of the Atlantic Yards project on the surrounding communities. This includes putting forth a thoughtful proposal for the governance of the project which proposed a strong advisory role for local elected officials and community residents currently excluded from any meaningful participation. We have been forced to litigate to make this project accountable,” stated Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council.

Since the suit was filed, a mere two months ago, a chorus of new voices from across the political spectrum has risen in outrage over the questionable relationships between government agencies and private developers, including a State Appellate Division decision which struck down the use of eminent domain to acquire land for Columbia University; a new State law which brings oversight measures to the State’s public authorities (including the ESDC), an investigative hearing convened by State Senator Bill Perkins to look into ESDC’s role in both the Atlantic Yards and Columbia University land deals; and an indictment brought against a Yonkers city councilmember for allegedly taking a bribe to change her vote on another Ratner project.

“New Yorkers have started to find out exactly how little Atlantic Yards’ promises of economic development and job creation are worth,” said Jo Anne Simon, spokesperson for BrooklynSpeaks. A few weeks before Christmas, 88 families at the Pacific Dean Annex shelter were told the facility would close on January 15th for demolition, with no relocation assistance offered by the developer. “This doesn’t bode well for the community and future actions by this developer. The public and our elected officials are seeing that the project has no effective oversight or benefits for Brooklyn,” said Deb Howard, Executive Director of Pratt Area Community Council.

More and more people agree—when it comes to the ESDC and Atlantic Yards, we’ve had enough. It’s long past time for accountability on the largest development in Brooklyn’s history or the largest sole source development in New York City history. Join us in bringing that message to court on January 19.