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Two more chances to vent

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Stung by criticism that it hasn’t done enough to solicit public opinion on the Atlantic Yards project, the Empire State Development Corporation has set up another hearing on the mega-development.

The original Aug. 23 public hearing drew thousands of people — many of whom waited hours to get inside. Roughly 300 people who signed up to testify did not get a chance to speak.

ESDC had previously announced that a second “community forum” would be held on Sept. 12 at 4 pm at New York City College of Technology’s Klitgord Auditorium (285 Jay St., Downtown).

But after critics — and many elected officials — sniped that Sept. 12 is primary election day, ESDC this week added a new “community forum,” on Sept. 18, at the same time and place. The new “forum” was posted on the ESDC Web site without fanfare.

In the same posting, ESDC said that the 300 speakers would be given priority over newcomers — and that elected officials, who spoke at length on Aug. 23, won’t get a command performance at the remaining two “community forums.”

Some called it too little, too late.

“If they really cared about the public, the elected officials never would have spoken first,” said Scott Turner, whose Fans for Fair Play Web site opposes Atlantic Yards.

Turner said the new rules were useless because elected officials weren’t going to attend the Primary Night “forum” anyway.

ESDC spokeswoman Jessica Copen said the new “forum” was added because “we want as many people as possible to have a chance to comment on the project” before the end of the comment period on Sept. 22.

But JoAnne Simon, a district leader from Boerum Hill, said ESDC wanted the opposite: “The law says that the public-comment period ends 30 days after a public hearing. That’s why these things are called ‘community forums.’ It’s chimera-like language designed to avoid extending the public-comment period.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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