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About DDDB
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"Why should people get to see plans? This isn't a public project."
Bruce Ratner in Crain's Nov. 8, 2009

Atlantic Yards Security: Louis's Duck About a Fish

: 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:
Foes' latest plan seems fishy

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 thoroughly examined...
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.

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 one either.

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.)

Louis continues:
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.

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...

Keep reading Louis's column, if you care to.
See above, it's not only opponents.
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 necessary.

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."? Absolutely not.

Louis's column: it quacks like a duck, and is one.

Posted: 12.06.07
DDDB.net en español.
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Eminent Domain Case
Goldstein et al v. ESDC
[All case files]

November 24, 2009
Court of Appeals

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EIS Lawsuit

DDDB et al v ESDC et al
Click for a summary of the lawsuit seeking to annul the review and approval the Atlantic Yards project.

Appeal briefs are here.

Appellate Divsion
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What would Atlantic Yards Look like?...
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