To the editor,
Ralph Waldo Emerson railed against “foolish consistency.” Surely he had even less respect for foolish inconsistency.
A newspaper’s editorial opinion means nothing if it is inconsistent. In your editorial (“Just do it,” June 11), The Brooklyn Paper seems to be priding itself on some imagined consistency when it advocates for a taxpayer-funded arena on top of private property, city streets and the Vanderbilt rail-yards — part of the proposed Atlantic Yards project — even more vehemently now that starchitect Frank Gehry has been dropped from the whole project.
But The Paper is downright defensive in its claims of consistency. That defensiveness is understandable because there is nothing consistent in The Paper’s opinion. In March, 2008, it editorialized:
“The state must take back the development rights over the rail-yards and put them out for bid. Doing so would not only cleanse state officials of the Original Sin of Atlantic Yards (namely selling Ratner the air rights for $100 million less than their appraised value), but it would also set right Bruce Ratner’s very wrong project.”
So, while The Paper may now claim it has always wanted this arena, it hasn’t; it has never actually supported Ratner’s plan and never supported eminent domain or public subsidies upon which the arena and the rest of the project are dependent.
Did “Bruce Ratner’s very wrong project” suddenly become very right because the developer dumped the architect whose reputation he levered for project approval?
The Paper of late likes to make the argument that we need this arena now more than ever because of the state of the economy, that the arena “will be an economic engine.” We need this arena like a hole in the head now. It would be a money-loser for the city, and is the chief impediment to the creation of truly affordable housing and union construction jobs over the rail yards.
For us, the issue isn’t who the arena’s architect is (though the bait-and-switch with Gehry is emblematic of a project defined by multiple bait-and-switches on cost, housing, public space and design, to name just a few). The concept of an arena simultaneous with a housing crisis, in the middle of and on top of an existing residential community, is what we oppose, as do city zoning regulations which were overridden in a state takeover of the Atlantic Yards site — part of the “Original Sin” that The Paper editorialized against last year.
But that editorial is from the pre-Rupert Murdoch era, not that we think The Paper’s new ownership has anything to do with the inconsistent editorial opinion expressed in its pages.
The writer is the spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, and lives on Pacific Street in the Atlantic Yards footprint.
• • •
To the editor,
Just do it???????
Are you f—ing kidding me?
On the front page of our newspaper????
You f—ing traitor!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just build a f—ing shack so Ratner can make money??????? What the f–????
Do you have any principles??? Do you have any balls at all????
“Just do it”???? I’ll just stop reading the only paper that told the truth!!!
Holy f–!! I’m disgusted!!!!!!!
Shame on you!!!!!!!
Shame on you!!!!!!!!
• • •
To the editor,
The firing of Frank Gehry and the evolution of Atlantic Yards ought to provide a moment for reflection regarding the role of architecture, hubris, politics, and planning in our city. Will we continue to see another development deal, another architect, another political legacy all intertwined in a misbegotten attempt to control what perhaps should not be controlled?
The beauty and diversity of a great city has always been more than a single author can successfully imagine. Our worst legacy is our failed master plans with their projects, urban renewal, superblocks, and highways that have destroyed and isolated neighborhoods. Our most humane urban environments are those that grew incrementally, responding to our needs as they arose and reflecting the rich tapestry of human expression.
So if development of the Atlantic Yards is to progress — and I doubt that anyone would argue that the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush or its open rail lines should remain as is — let’s strategize the most effective approach for its realization. Thoughtful urban design will be crucial in creating a successful scheme. Gehry is out, but there are some simple urban principles regarding the creation of great public spaces that should be directly employed: such as insuring human scale and fostering activity and human interaction at the street level.
The problem with a complex, mixed-use scheme is that all of its parts must be viable at the same time for it to succeed. Perhaps Brooklyn’s lower density does not justify the kind of intense mixed use concentration proposed in this scheme.
A great architectural solution is essential. Great design need not be a luxury reserved for flush times and there are many fine examples to this effect. At a time when resources are precious and morale is low, a project that is publicly funded should be nothing less then excellent and inspiring.
Unfortunately, the images of Ellerbe Becket’s arena scheme appear to be a recycled Conseco Fieldhouse dressed with suburban-scaled retail on the street level. It represents both a failure to grasp the principles of urban design and a failure of architectural imagination.
Let us engage our most talented designers and let us see the alternatives to this mediocre scheme. Let’s insist on the best results for Brooklyn, for New York, for architecture, for urban design and for the people. There is no excuse for less.
James Garrison, DUMBO
To the editor,
I am the parent of a student who attends St. Saviour Elementary School (“Catholic school parents see only turmoil in Flanagan’s wake,” June 4). I was very selective in choosing a school for my daughter to attend. I looked into multiple schools before making the final decision to send her to St. Saviour because of its good reputation and the great academic success it has had.
St. Saviour has continued to thrive under Principal Flanagan’s leadership. The school’s success has next to nothing to do with Rev. Daniel Murphy, who has not even stepped foot into the school in over two years.
St. Saviour Elementary School has had many graduates who have successfully gone on to high schools and colleges of their choice. Many of these students earned scholarships. In fact, the number of the scholarships given to students at St. Saviour over the last 25 years (under Principal Flanagan) should speak for itself!
Why would Rev. Murphy want to fix something that is not broken? He mishandled this entire situation from the very beginning. It is our children and their education that are going to suffer the consequences. I am outraged over his decision not to renew James Flanagan’s contract.
Joyce Pisciotta, Bath Beach