BrooklynSpeaks sponsors file for stay of construction at Atlantic Yards site

Contact: Jo Anne Simon – 917.685.3747; Gib Veconi – 917.881.0401

BROOKLYN, NY, November 29, 2010: On Wednesday, November 24, several BrooklynSpeaks sponsor organizations filed a motion with New York State Supreme Court seeking to halt construction activities at the Atlantic Yards site. The motion comes after a November 9 decision from Justice Marcy Friedman finding that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) lacked a rational basis for assuming that Atlantic Yards project would be completed in ten years when the agency approved the project’s 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP). Justice Friedman ordered the ESDC to reconsider the need for a supplemental environmental impact statement based on the schedule provisions of the Development Agreement between ESDC and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC). That Agreement was made public only after a January 2010 court hearing during which the ESDC misrepresented its ability under the Development Agreement to ensure Atlantic Yards would be completed within ten years.

BrooklynSpeaks’ motion seeks to stay construction until ESDC has responded to the Court’s order. “Because the ESDC approved the 2009 MGPP without a reasoned basis for assuming Atlantic Yards would be complete in ten years, the agency violated New York State environmental law. As such, the work proceeding at the site now is underway illegally,” said Al Butzel, attorney for the BrooklynSpeaks petitioners. “ESDC and FCRC had a responsibility to disclose the true extent of the renegotiated construction schedule. They should not be rewarded and allowed to continue as if they had complied with the law.”

“If nothing happens, FCRC will soon begin to raze buildings, grade and pave an entire city block in Prospect Heights to create 1,100 parking spaces for arena events,” said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “Although they say it’s an ‘interim’ parking lot, under the MGPP, it could stay that way for up to 25 years. The State needs to disclose the noise, traffic, and air quality impacts of that likely scenario before moving forward.”

“The difference between 10 and 25 years is a long time to wait for affordable housing,” added Deb Howard, Executive Director of the Pratt Area Community Council. “The Governor and the Governor-elect can no longer ignore the fact that a State authority, appointed by the executive, has misrepresented a major development project to the Court and to the people of New York State. The ESDC has abdicated its obligations to the public purse and the public interest. Now it’s time for the Governor to put the interests of the people above those of a powerful real estate developer and commit to reform of Atlantic Yards governance.”