The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council

Court says State failed to properly consider impacts of extended Atlantic Yards construction
Posted: November 10, 2010 - 7:31am

New York State Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman found that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) unreasonably failed to properly assess the impacts of twenty-five years of extended construction at the Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn. Judge Friedman’s ruling was entered following a motion by BrooklynSpeaks petitioners to reargue an earlier decision by the Court in favor of ESDC and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC). The BrooklynSpeaks petitioners asked Judge Friedman to review the Development Agreements executed subsequent to the ESDC’s approval of the Modified General Project Plan but which were withheld from public disclosure until after oral argument on the petitioners' original motion. In her opinion today,

Judge Friedman echoed BrooklynSpeaks’ concern, stating “The Development Agreement has cast a completely different light on the Project build date. Its 25 year outside substantial completion date for Phase II and its disparate enforcement provisions for failure to meet Phase I and II deadlines, read together with the renegotiated MTA Agreement giving FCRC until 2030 to complete acquisition of the air rights necessary to construct 6 of the 11 Phase II buildings, raise a substantial question as to whether ESDC’s continuing use of the 10 year build-out has a rational basis.” The Court accordingly ordered ESDC to reassess its reliance on the 10-year build out schedule in failing to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the 2009 MGPP.

“The BrooklynSpeaks sponsors hail the court’s decision as a victory for all of the communities who have been shut out of the Project’s decision-making process. It vindicates years of concerns expressed by the communities surrounding Atlantic Yards that the State of New York never properly assessed the impacts of this Project, and seems to have labored mightily to avoid doing so,” said Jo Anne Simon, Democratic Leader of Brooklyn’s 52nd District.

Said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, “The Atlantic Yards Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) varied so drastically from the plan initially approved by the ESDC in 2006 that it could not escape the notice of the Court, and the decision today has confirmed that the Empire State Development Corporation must disclose the impacts of the Atlantic Yards project it agreed to, not the one it wishes would be built. Until ESDC provides an appropriate response, the petitioners will seek to enjoin so-called ‘interim’, but blighting, project features, such as the razing of existing buildings in the Phase II footprint to create giant surface parking lots.”

“We expect the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to perform a full, serious, and unbiased environmental review based on conditions in the neighborhood at the time of announcement of the Atlantic Yards project, and considering the outside completion dates to which the agency is willing to agree,” said Michael Cairl, President of the Park Slope Civic Council. Added Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association, “We further call on the Legislature and the Governor of the State of New York to implement oversight controls for this Project commensurate with its size and the amount of public subsidy it is to receive.”