The proposed Forest City Ratner “arena” at Atlantic Yards is No Longer In My Backyard, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring about it. To be frank, this proposed mini-city in the midst of Brooklyn’s busiest intersection was a contributory factor in our decision to sell up and move out. Only one of many factors, mind, and I would never roll over and admit defeat just like that, but honestly and truly, if the project gets built to its current design, I’ll be happy I’m no longer living nearby to reap the undeserved punishment.
Fortunately, there are plenty Brooklynites perfectly who have no other reasons to move out and who are eager to keep stating their opposition. And it may just be that their voices have finally been heard. On Tuesday, October 18th, the Empire State Development Corporation held “the public scoping hearing on environmental impacts of the proposed Atlantic Yards development.” A meeting to which literally hundreds upon hundreds of local citizens turned up to explain why Atlantic Yards, as it stands, is bad for Brooklyn.
Prominent among them was our former local Assemblywoman Joan Millman, who has previously stayed rather quiet on the subject. Her testimony (printed here) stands in firm contradiction to Ratner’s insistence of near-unanimous public support. Citing the sudden influx of 18,000 new residents spread across 17 skyscrapers, all atop a traffic-choked intersection, Millman asked:
“Let us accurately look at the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our sewer capacity, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our already crowded subways, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on police and fire personnel demands, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on the schools, and the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on already overburdened postal service. These are just some of the issues that will impact the quality of life for downtown residents.”
Such was the scale of discontent at Tuesday’s hearing that even Borough President Marty Markowitz, who instigated the very idea of a baseball arena in Brooklyn and has served these last two years less as a people’s representative than as public cheerleader for developer Bruce Ratner, was heard to say that the project needed “scaling back.” (Was that a pig flying over Atlantic Yards? No, just Marty’s hefty ego in free fall.)
Indeed, such was the volume of opposition that even the New York Times which, being in partnership with Forest City Ratner for its own new midtown skyscraper, has itself served less as a paper of public record than as a mouthpiece for Ratner these last two years, has seen fit to print, albeit sheepishly, that
“the high-decibel hearing on Tuesday clearly demonstrated that the complexion and scope of … opposition has changed…”
Continued props to all those in Park Slope, Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and the other neighborhoods of “downtown” or/and “brownstone” Brooklyn for keeping up the good fight. This one is going the full 17 rounds.