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Follow the Yards money

The Brooklyn Paper
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All of Brooklyn owes a debt of gratitude to an umbrella coalition called the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods — not only because the group has put out the most detailed study of the state’s analysis of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project, but, in doing so, has shown once again the value of independent experts operating outside of Albany’s closed-door meetings and smoke-filled rooms.

The CBN’s 300-page report, submitted to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) just after we went to press last week, is a treasure trove of information for anyone seeking to fully understand the magnitude of Atlantic Yards and its vastly under-reported public costs.

As our reporters point out on page 2 of this week’s paper, the CBN study reveals that, among other things, the ESDC admitted that new schools would be needed once Atlantic Yards residents start moving in, but never put a pricetag on it. The city’s Independent Budget Office did: it’s $138 million.

In addition, the ESDC has ignored hundreds of millions more in direct and indirect subsidies to Ratner — on top of $1 billion in subsidies already reported.

Other sections of the CBN study reveal that the state used outdated information when it created its rosy scenario for traffic and transit in post-Yards Brooklyn. One consultant pointed out that the draft environmental impact statement for the project didn’t take into account the vehicle trips that will be generated by roughly four million square feet of development already completed or set to be constructed in the area around the proposed Atlantic Yards.

The project, despite its 2,250 units of below-market-rate rentals, would also hasten gentrification in Fort Greene and Prospect Heights, would result in a net loss of the amount of open space per person, and affect the quality of the air in an area already known as “asthma alley.”

Atlantic Yards supporters would be wrong to dismiss the CBN report as the work of a bunch of “Not-In-My-Back-Yard” obstructionists.

There are, of course, reasons why a reasonable person could support Atlantic Yards, but the CBN report shows that there has yet to be a detailed, accurate analysis of the project’s supposed benefits. A DEIS is supposed to be that analysis, but this one’s flaws make it useless as a jumping-off point for public debate on the project.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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