While the Empire State Development Corporation approved the Atlantic Yards project for the second time last September, the deal detailsâ€”the penalties and incentives to get the project doneâ€”weren’t resolved until the master closing in December. And then the ESDC waited a full month to make the voluminous print documents available to reporters and others willing to visit the agency’s office in business hours. That Development Agreement, which Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report wrote about in late January lent credibility to what critics of the Atlantic Yards project have been saying for years: That there’s no way Forest City Ratner’s going to complete construction within the ten-year time frame and that the penalties for not doing so are as small as the wriggle room for avoiding them is large. (Back in April 2009 ESDC chief Marisa Lago even said on record that the project was expected to take “decades.”) What’s the problem with that? Well, the original Environmental Impact Statements, upon which the courts have relied, only evaluated the impact of the area being subjected to construction for a decade and twenty five years of construction could obviously take a bigger toll. (A Technical Memorandum issued last June briefly said a delay would be immaterial, but it was not a Supplementary EIS.)
Earlier this month Develop Don’t Destroy along with nineteen other community groups filed a motion for the New York State Supreme Court to reconsider its March 2010 dismissal of a case brought by project opponents against ESDC; in that case, the judge found that there was just enough evidence to support the ten-year time frame. However, the Development Agreement was released only after the oral argument in that case, and was not permitted to be added to the record. The new motion argues that the new evidence that the entire project is likely to take closer to 25 years means that the court should “reconsider its March 10th ruling and to allow oral argument that considers the revealing information in the omitted documents,” according to a DDDB press release.
On Friday, points out Atlantic Yards Report, Brooklyn Speaks spoke out on its decision to join the motion: The extended construction schedule will subject the adjoining residential neighborhoods to construction noise, dust, air pollution, traffic blockages and empty lots for 25 years or more a negative situation that was never addressed in the 2006 EIS or the 2009 Technical Memorandum, explained Deb Howard, Executive Director of the Pratt Area Community Council. The ESDC has a responsibility to evaluate the impacts of the project it agreed to, not the project it wishes would be built.
For more details on how the Development Agreement relaxed the deadlines publicly disclosed in September, check out Atlantic Yards Report‘s post this morning .