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City kicks in more Ratner cash

The Brooklyn Paper
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The city will kick in another $29 million towards Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards, The Brooklyn Papers has learned.

The new expenditures — which will fund infrastructure improvements around the proposed basketball arena — bumps up the city’s contribution to $129 million, a slight jump in spending that project opponents characterized as unnecessary.

“This is a project of unacceptable cost [to taxpayers] and questionable benefit,” said Bill Batson, an Assembly candidate.

Batson says he uncovered the new money in a final draft of the city’s 2007 budget.

City officials declined to comment.

The $29 million will fund the relocation of water mains and the reconstruction of a pedestrian underpass at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, where the Frank Gehry-designed arena would be built.

The new money is part of an old problem — skyrocketing public subsidy for the private development, opponents said. Last year, watchdogs at the Independent Budget Office estimated that the development would cost $530 million in new education, sanitation, and police services over 30 years — and that was when the project called for 860 fewer housing units. And Ratner will get hundreds of millions in tax abatements.

IBO spokesman Doug Turetsky couldn’t confirm Batson’s discovery, but called the latest cash infusion “not unusual,” saying, “Twenty million is a lot to you and me, but in context of a $53-billion budget, it is not a huge amount.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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