BrooklynSpeaks statement regarding Judge’s decision on MGPP legal challenge

Contact: Jo Anne Simon – (917) 685-3747
Linda Gross, LCG Communications – (718) 853-5568; (917) 767-1141

The BrooklynSpeaks sponsors are disappointed that the court did not reverse the approval of the Atlantic Yards’ 2009 Modified General Project Plan.

Although Judge Friedman ruled against the community’s petition, she criticized the Empire State Development Corporation’s rationale for continuing to rely on the previously-estimated ten-year build out as "marginally sufficient to survive judicial scrutiny under the limited SEQRA standard," and observed that ESDC’s review of the 2009 Modified General Project Plan "lacked the candor that the public was entitled to expect, particularly in light of the scale of the Project and its impact on the community." We couldn’t agree more.

Unfortunately, the judge was not able to consider documents from Atlantic Yards’ master closing because those documents weren’t made public until after the court hearing. The closing documents conclusively establish that the ESDC had no intention of requiring Forest City Ratner to deliver the project on the timeline that was described in the 2009 Modified General Project Plan.

It is now clear that the project the agency has agreed to allow the developer to build will have significantly greater environmental impacts and drastically reduced public benefits when compared to those the ESDC had previously disclosed. This sad state of affairs is compounded by the fact that the only environmental impacts studied were those flowing from the 2006 Plan, and the very governmental entities charged with protecting the public from adverse environmental impacts have effectively agreed to look the other way with respect to fifteen additional years of construction.

For now, Atlantic Yards continues to stand alone as a State project with no formal oversight or meaningful public representation in decision-making. However, now that the definitive agreements between ESDC and Forest City Ratner have been made public, the BrooklynSpeaks petitioners are considering further legal options, including seeking reconsideration in light of the new documentation or an appeal. It is long past time that the special treatment enjoyed by this developer end, and Atlantic Yards is brought onto the same playing field as other large ESDC projects.

(The complete text of Judge Friedman's opinion is available here.)