State legislators criticize delay in jobs and housing, call on ESDC and Governor to reform Atlantic Yards

On Sunday, January 22, State Senator Eric Adams, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and Assemblyman Karim Camara held a press conference in front of the Barclays Center, criticizing Atlantic Yards' failure to deliver promised jobs and affordable housing, and calling on the Empire State Development Corporation and Governor Andrew Cuomo to reform oversight of the $5 billion project.

"When this project started, our goal was not merely to see an arena built on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush Avenue," said State Senator Adams, adding "Our goal was to see jobs come to this community, housing come to this community." Expressing frustration with the developer's failure to deliver on those benefits, the State Senator said, "We thought it was a slam dunk. Instead, we got just junk. We're not happy with that, and as legislators, we're saying, 'Enough is enough.'"

Assemblyman Jeffries recounted the promises made to Brooklyn, and the disappointments experienced thus far. "There were over 14,000 jobs promised. Less than 100 people from this community have received any meaningful employment. There were over 2,000 units of affordable housing that were promised. We haven't seen a single unit of affordable housing."

Assemblyman Camara explained how his support for Atlantic Yards had changed given the lack of realized public benefits.  "I did not support this project because of a basketball arena. The $225 million in City funds, and $100 million in State funds, were not supposed to be for basketball," he said. 

"We elect  people to represent us in Albany and in the City Council," said Jo Anne Simon, Democratic Leader of the 52nd District. "Not one of those people has had a vote on this project."

The elected leaders called on Governor Cuomo and the ESDC to establish a subsidiary to oversee the rest of the development of the Atlantic Yards project, including outside directors appointed by local legislators. Said State Senator Adams, "This developer has become the poster child of how we will not do business with taxpayer dollars, and now we need to send a very strong message."

(Video by Wayne Bailey and Tracy Collins)