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BROOKLYN     Press Release Main Page

For Immediate Release: October 14, 2007

“You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world.”

-Newark Police Director, Garry McCarthy

Will Brooklyn Arena Be Safe From Terror?

Newark Prudential Center Street Closings
Raise Troubling Questions;

Elected Officials and Community Groups Call for State Hearing on
Atlantic Yards and Terrorism Security

BROOKLYN, NY — Just two weeks before the grand opening of the Newark Prudential Center arena on October 25th, that city’s police department has mandated the closure of at least two streets abutting the new arena as an anti-terrorism measure during arena events. Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy told the Newark Star-Ledger, "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."

“The terror risk for Forest City Ratner’s (FCR) planned Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is potentially far greater than that faced by the Newark arena, and there is no reason that Brooklyn should play catch-up sometime down the road. The time for a review of the impacts of a terrorist threat against Atlantic Yards and a state hearing on the issue is now,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “We call on Governor Spitzer’s ‘homeland security czar,’ Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni, to address the need for and testify at such a hearing on Atlantic Yards terrorism security issues, and for Governor Spitzer’s ESDC to learn from Newark’s lack of planning and initiate a proper review of Atlantic Yards and terrorism security.”

Atlantic Yards would be a glass-walled arena surrounded by glass-walled skyscrapers, abutting the busiest (and frequently gridlocked) intersection in Brooklyn, sitting atop the third-largest transportation hub in the city, which was the site of a thwarted terror attack in 1997. It would be the densest residential community in the entire United States. FCR projects about 230 events per year at the arena. Yet the city and state of New York have failed to perform a proper and comprehensive review of terrorism security issues for the project. In the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) refused to consider the threat of a terrorist attack, claiming that a terrorist attack was “not a reasonable worst-case scenario” warranting examination in the EIS.

"We have consistently said that the proposed Nets arena and high-rise complex poses a significant terrorist risk requiring a public hearing on the merits of this argument, and the impacts of planning for such risks. Newark’s situation has validated our concerns, and Brooklyn deserves no less than the same consideration,” said Councilmember Letitia James, whose district encompasses the entirety of the project site.

For more than two years, elected officials and community groups have been asking for a proper and comprehensive review of security measures and the potential for terrorism, but such a review has never been performed. A pending lawsuit in State Supreme Court challenging the project’s environmental review includes a claim against the ESDC for its failure to consider the impacts of terrorism security planning on the project itself, on traffic, and for impacts on the surrounding neighborhoods.

 “Common sense says that the combination of the unique design, use, location, and density of Atlantic Yards makes for an attractive terror target. Minimizing such a risk could potentially have an enormous impact on the surrounding neighborhoods,” Goldstein said. “The ESDC has chosen to keep its head in the sand, and now, with the unsurprising, real-life, last-minute example from Newark, we have more questions than answers. Questions such as: How is it that in Newark streets will require closing for terrorism protection, but comparably situated streets in Brooklyn will not? For 230 arena events per year, how would it be possible to shut down or limit traffic flows at the three heavily trafficked streets that surround the proposed arena site -- Dean Street, Flatbush and Atlantic? How is it that the Freedom Tower site was moved back from West Street for the very reason that Newark will have to close streets surrounding their arena, but we’ve not heard from the ESDC or NYPD about this issue? It’s time for specific answers that only hearings and proper review can provide.”

 In the coming days, DDDB, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods and elected officials will work to have the state hold hearings on Atlantic Yards and terrorism security planning.

For illustrative renderings of the Atlantic Yards project click here.

More detail on the issues raised by the Newark street closures can be found here:
Uh-oh: Newark to close street bordering arena to guard against terrorism (and what about AY?)

More background can be found here:
What Would the Worst Case Be?

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s July 2005 white paper, “Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project” can be found here:

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them