Atlantic Yards reform - New effort to increase public input

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Advocates supporting the creation of a new Atlantic Yards Trust and Stakeholders Council say that their proposal will remedy a long list of criticisms that have so far marked the massive downtown development project.

“Every major state project in New York City, except Atlantic Yards, has a governance body similar to the one this legislation creates,” Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries said at City Hall on Monday. “The best way to assure this project’s public benefits are realized, including the creation of affordable housing, is to have real oversight on the project.”

Jeffries is the sponsor of a bill that if passed would create a new Atlantic Yards overseeing body comprised of city and state appointees as well as a Stakeholders Council consisting of neighborhood residents appointed by local elected officials.

Assemblymember James Brennan, City Councilmembers Letitia James and David Yassky joined Jeffries and a coalition of neighborhood groups in making the announcement this week.

Supporters of the proposal say the campaign was launched in an effort to remedy the ongoing lack of accountability, transparency and public involvement in the governance of the Atlantic Yards Project and modeled on the Hudson River Trust Act of 1998.

Efforts to attain those lofty democratic goals not withstanding, the plan appears to be going over like a lead balloon with those both for and against the development.

When contacted, Forest City Ratner spokesperson Loren Reigelhaupt gave the Courier a politely curt “We are not commenting on the proposal, thanks” response, while Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn principal Daniel Goldstein dismissed the proposed Assembly bill out of hand.

“The [Atlantic Yards] project is illegitimate from its inception,” Goldstein said. “Governing a train wreck is nothing we can support.”

Goldstein called the proposal a “middle of the road position” that still gives the governor too much power.

“The only remedy is to start over again,” he said.

Jasper Goldman, senior policy analyst with the Municipal Arts Society, conceded that the bill was a conservative proposal, but one that has a chance of winning over Atlantic Yards supporters in Albany.

“This is not a stop the project strategy,” he said. “Whatever gets built on the site has to be done properly. The [Atlantic Yards] project is going to change a lot in the future, and future changes should be made in a different way then they’ve been made so far.”

Updated 3:48 pm, October 19, 2011
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