Former President George W. Bush was always fond of saying how much easier governing the United States would be if only it were a dictatorship. Old Number 43 may be history, but that sentiment about our democracy has apparently not faded out with him.
Earlier this week, Borough President Marty Markowitz told the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association meeting at P.S. 195 on Irwin Street, “I love democracy. It works. It’s always worked for us. But you can use it for good, and you can use it sometimes where it may not be good.”
The borough president – currently running for a third term – was talking about legal challenges to the Atlantic Yards project and his ongoing efforts to transform the borough.
“Having the [New Jersey] Nets and having an arena in Brooklyn opens up unbelievable opportunities for economic growth,” Markowitz declared.
While charges of supporting the “Manhattanization” of Brooklyn have been leveled at the borough president throughout the course of the Atlantic Yards fight, this week Markowitz left little doubt about his Kings County agenda.
“I think there’s going to be two centers in New York City – one is midtown Manhattan…but the other will be the synergy between the two downtowns,” Markowitz explained. “Downtown Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, it is my belief, will form a synergy of another city center.”
Forget the detractors who maintain that the proposed new arena would be a bad fit on Flatbush Avenue and that maybe Coney Island – where the borough president is catching a ton of heat for his plans to erect a $64 million amphitheater at Asser Levy Seaside Park – might be a better choice, Markowitz loves the downtown spot.
“We have the advantage, every public transportation service goes to that exact location downtown,” Markowitz said. “That’s why it’s better there than Coney Island where people would have to go by car to get to Coney Island. Downtown you have every subway including the Long Island Rail Road and four bus lines that stop right in front of the proposed arena.”
According to Markowitz, the new Barclays Center slated for Flatbush Avenue could even challenge the world’s most famous arena for supremacy.
“When that arena opens up in downtown Brooklyn, all of the events that are currently in Madison Square Garden, there will be competition between Brooklyn and Manhattan for major events in this city and the economic activity that goes with it,” he said.
From a new “Madison Square Garden” to Shakespearean theater troupes, the beep expressed his unabashed excitement about the kind of future he is actively working to usher into the borough.
“That ugly mall that was on Fulton Street that’s history, knocked down, and that will be replaced by an office tower, residential, commercial offices and complete retail downstairs that will add to the experience of Fulton Street, and I think will have a bigger reach in attracting folks from all over Brooklyn and beyond to shop in Downtown Brooklyn,” Markowitz said.
Despite the stark realities of this economic recession, the borough president said that he has “every expectation” that the Atlantic Yards project will move forward – and that the current basketball team occupying MSG will have to start looking over its shoulder.