There’s conflict within the organization opposed to Atlantic Yards, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB).
The latest salvo comes after the community’s initial opponent of the project, Patti Hagan, said she was unceremoniously thrown out of the organization.
“In November I got a letter from [DDDB member] Eric Reschke saying they had expelled me from the group and that the steering committee approved my expulsion. They never leveled any charges against me and I’m a founding member of the steering committee,” said Hagan.
“It (DDDB) needs more people of color and more people from the neighborhood. It’s basically really prosperous white people, and this abuse of eminent domain affects everybody,” she added.
Hagan and her sister, Schellie, are white, and longtime activist members of the Prospect Heights/Fort Greene/Clinton Hill community, who founded the Prospect Heights Action Coalition.
“The Hagan sisters express their views and are respected in the community,” said James Caldwell, president of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Local Innovative Development), which is a signatory to the community benefits agreement (CBA) with developer Forest City Ratner.
Caldwell, and other supporters of the Atlantic Yards project, said the Hagan sisters have solid street credentials because they are on the front lines of many neighborhood issues.
Meanwhile other supporters of the project alleged that key DDDB members and operatives come from Long Island and Westchester County, and live in condominiums converted from former factory buildings in and around the footprint that once held thousands of local jobs.
“They are the real land grabbers, because they took the property first and turned back what was jobs into condos,” said Charlene Nimmons, another signatory to the CBA.
DDDB spokesperson Dan Goldstein, whose condominium is in a former warehouse in the footprint of the project, called Nimmons’ allegation “ridiculous.”
“A land grab is when the state takes property and gives it to a private developer,” said Goldstein, who moved to the area in 2003, the same year the Atlantic Yards project was announced.
“If a business leaves and goes belly up it’s not a land grab. This has been and is a mixed-use area,” he added.
Goldstein said he and Reschke co-founded the organization in February 2004 as a non-profit volunteer membership organization
The steering committee has gone through numerous members, said Goldstein.
“Patti Hagan was once a member and now she is no longer a member of the steering committee,” said Goldstein, refusing to elaborate further.
Reschke could not be reached at press time.
According to DDDB’s 2006 990 tax forms filed in November 2007, Reschke is listed as the treasurer.
The organization received $366,065 in direct public support and has a net balance of $138,054, according to the tax forms.
The only listed person who receives a salary is Goldstein’s wife, Shabnam Merchant, who is listed as a director and receives $40,500 annually.
©2008 Community News Group
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