Please note our new postal address when sending
contributions to the legal fund:
121 5th Avenue, PMB #150
Brooklyn, New York 11217
Our coalition consists of 21 community organizations and
there are 51 community organizations formally
aligned in opposition to the Ratner plan.
DDDB is a volunteer-run organization. We have over 5,000
subscribers to our email newsletter, and 7,000 petition
signers. Over 800 volunteers have registered with DDDB
to form our various teams, task-forces and committees
and we have over 150 block captains. We have a 20 person
volunteer legal team of local lawyers supplementing our
We are funded entirely by individual donations from the community at large
and through various fundraising events we and supporters have organized.
We have the financial support of well over 3,500 individual
Atlantic Yards Security: Louis's Duck About a Fish
Canard: n. 1. a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor.
(from the French, duck, canard, probably from the phrase vendre un canard à
moitié, to sell half a duck, to swindle, from Old French quanart,
duck, from caner, to cackle, of imitative origin.)
NY Daily News columnist
Errol Louis's latest blurring of reality:
latest plan seems fishy
Ok, let's stop that right there. It's ironic that Louis would use one animal,
a fish -- the striped
bass that killed the Westway project in the 1970s -- to create a canard.
Opponents of two mega-projects - Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the Columbia
University expansion in West Harlem - have lately taken to arguing that the
deals should be halted because potentially dire security concerns haven't been
The canard starts in the headline as it is not only foes (or opponents) who have
raised Atlantic Yards security concerns, but it is also project supports and middle-of-the-roaders
like Councilmembers Bill de Blasio, David Yassky, and assemblymembers Joan Millman,
Hakeem Jeffries, and James Brennan, and State Senator Eric Adams (all
co-signed a letter to Bloomberg and Spitzer demanding an independent security
review of the project.) Louis continues the canard in the first paragraph, stating
that the security concerns have come "lately" and therefore smell fishy.
But he's just plain wrong.
Opponents, critics and yes, supporters, of the Atlantic Yards project
have been raising security issues at least since July 2005, at which
time DDDB released a white paper on the
issue titled "Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards
High Rise and Arena Development Project." All three jurisdictional Community
Boards (2, 6, 8) had raised security concerns in their responses to the state's
Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) back in August 2006; DDDB and 25 other
community groups, including groups agnostic about the project, filed
a lawsuit against the state in April 2007 which had 11 causes of action including
the charge that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) violated state
environmental laws by failing to consider the potential security issues and impacts
from a terrorist attack; and in October 2007 the elected officials sent their
letter demanding a review to Bloomberg and Spitzer.
So the concerns have been around for years. What has come "lately"
is the real world example of the impacts of terrorism precautions -- Newark's
closing of streets 25 feet away from its new Prudential Center Arena. What also
has come "lately" is that Louis has noticed the concerns and used them
for yet another canard about the project and its opponents. Louis continues:
The public should take these complaints with a grain of salt. Every
sane person wants to make sure new development is done safely - but project
opponents, desperate to kill these projects by any means, are hardly the kind
of trustworthy and neutral authorities to decide what's safe and what's not...
He's correct that opponents are not the right ones to decide what is safe and
what is not. And we certainly don't want to do that. But Forest City Ratner is
not the right one either, and to date those decisions have been made in complete
secrecy in a box containing only Forest City Ratner and the NYPD. But we do want
the ESDC to disclose the impacts of the terrorism security precautions
that are sure to be taken by the NYPD. This is why we, the Council
of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, and elected
officials have all called for an independent security analysis. That is why
we want someone, from ESDC, NYPD or FCR to answer the question that has been sitting
out there unanswered for nearly 2 months: How is Brooklyn's arena, setback
only 20 feet from the street, different than Newark's arena which, setback 25
feet from the street, has required street closings? Louis hasn't answered that
Also, discussing the issue on
WNYC radio yesterday Louis said: "...as long as there’s some sort of
an airing of it from somebody that everybody acknowledges is a neutral and trustworthy
party, and that would be somebody like the NYPD. I think we can maybe put that
issue behind us." (From Atlantic Yards Report's transcription.)
In Brooklyn, the same politicians and anti-development activists that have tried
to kill or delay Atlantic Yards from its inception with lawsuits and protests
are now screaming that the proposed arena will be "only" 20 feet from
Flatbush and Atlantic Aves. - allegedly too close to traffic and potential terrorists.
See above, it's not only opponents.
A recent decision by the Newark Police Department to close off streets near
its newly opened Prudential Center arena - located 25 feet from a busy street
- is being cited as a cause for alarm in Brooklyn.
"The risks are clear and the lack of information that has been shared with
us is unacceptable," said City Councilwoman Tish James, whose public opposition
to Atlantic Yards began before her first glimpse of the project plan.
In reality, the risks aren't clear at all. New York is full of sensitive facilities
located right near busy streets, including Madison Square Garden, the U.S. mission
to the United Nations, Mayor Bloomberg's home and the recently reopened footpath
between City Hall and the Tweed building...
reading Louis's column, if you care to.
We haven't heard anyone screaming.
Yes "only 20 feet." Here is exactly what Newark Police Director
Garry McCarthy told the Newark Star-Ledger in October, 2 weeks before Newark's
new arena was to open: "You can't construct an arena and put it right against
a street in a post 9/11 world. So we're playing catch-up and taking measures to
make sure it's safe."
Surely McCarthy is not a politician or "anti-development activist."
If Louis thinks that McCarthy's decision in Newark was wrong or overly cautious
or an attempt to "kill" that project, he isn't saying.
As for the buildings listed by Louis as examples of why the 20-foot Ratner arena
setback is no problem, what is obvious but he fails to mention is that those buildings
were all built before 9/11 (unlike Atlantic Yards) and are all...built; too late
to do anything about, or analyze, other than in a retrofitting manner. That's
the difference with Atlantic Yards. It has not been built yet. So now is the time
when a proper analysis and disclosure of the impacts of security planning for
a glass-walled arena 20-feet from the street, surrounded by a glass-walled ticket
lobby called the "urban room," surrounded by glass-walled towers, over
the city's 3rd largest transportation, abutting the traffic chokepoint where Atlantic,
Flatbush and 4th Avenues meet, at a site of a thwarted 1997 terror attack, is
Also, the closest comparison he makes is Madision Square Garden (because it's
an arena, though its construction materials and design is much different).
He ought have thought twice about that comparison because the city did
close one street abutting MSG after 9/11. (See
Google Earth image here).
Are we opposed to the Atlantic Yards project? Absolutely. Are we concerned that
the state did not disclose impacts from security planning along with improperly
disclosing scores of other environmental impacts? Absolutely. Are concerns about
security the "latest" attempt by "anti-development activists"
and "screaming" political opponents to go "fishing in empty waters."?
Louis's column: it quacks like a duck, and is one.