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For Immediate Release: October 13, 2009
Elected Officials, Straphangers Campaign and DDDB Sue MTA for Sweetheart Deal With Forest City Ratner
Suit Says MTA Violated State Law and Atlantic Yards Deal Between
Ratner and MTA Must Be Annulled
NEW YORK, NY ó The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was sued today for the June 24th deal it made to sell its 8.5-acre Vanderbilt Rail Yard to developer Forest City Ratner for its proposed 22-acre Atlantic Yards plan in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (18th District), Assemblymember
Jim Brennan (44th District), Assemblymember Joan
Millman (52nd District), NY City Councilmember Letitia
James (35th District), NYPIRG/Straphangers Campaign
and Develop Donít Destroy Brooklyn filed the lawsuit. The
case was filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
"While the MTA is forcing service cuts and fare increases on the people
of New York, they are giving Forest City Ratner just about a free ride.
We have laws in this state which forbid these kinds of sweetheart deals.
You can’t short change the public to benefit a developer,” said
lead plaintiff, state Senator Velmanette Montgomery. “With the Atlantic
Yards, the MTA violated our legislation and the public trust. Their sale
of the Vanderbilt Yard to Ratner must be annulled."
The suit seeks the annulment of the MTA’s deal to sell the rail yard
to Forest City Ratner because it violated requirements of legislation meant
to rein in the abuses of New York State’s public authorities. An
annulment would disallow the transfer of the property, which the developer
requires for its project, including its proposed basketball arena, until
the MTA complied with the law.
The petitioners charge, specifically, that the cash-strapped transit authority
violated the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005. Under that legislation,
which former Governor George Pataki signed into law in 2006, the MTA was
required to obtain an independent appraisal of the Vanderbilt Yard and seek
out competitive offers for the property. The MTA failed to fulfill
either of these legal requirements when its Board approved its new deal
with Forest City Ratner on June 24th, 2009.
"We are asking the court to annul the MTA's agreement of this past June to sell the Vanderbilt Rail Yard to Forest City Ratner, because the agreement violated the procedural requirements of the Public Authorities Accountability Act of 2005, which were put in place to ensure that New York State's public authorities, including the MTA, adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards when selling their property. The MTA's deal to sell the Vanderbilt Rail Yard to Forest City Ratner did not meet those standards," said petitioners' attorney Randall Rasey of Barton, Barton & Plotkin.
The legal briefs for the caseóMontgomery
et al. v. Metropolitan Transportation Authority et al. are at:
The lawsuit is funded by Develop Donít Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), which is
funded entirely by thousands of grassroots donations. DDDB is holding its
fifth annual fundraising Walkathon to raise money for the legal fight against
Atlantic Yards this Saturday October 17th. For more information and to register
for the Walkathon, please visit: http://www.dddb.net/walkathon.
DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community
fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing
and destroying them
DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual
donors from the community.