|November 21, 2006
The Honorable George Pataki
The Honorable Joseph Bruno
The Honorable Sheldon Silver
Re: Security Concerns regarding the Proposed Atlantic Yards Project, Brooklyn,
The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods has been charged by its more than
forty member organizations with ensuring that our community is effectively
engaged throughout the environmental review process for the Atlantic Yards
Arena and Redevelopment Project, and that the process is transparent and
comprehensive. The membership of CBN includes civic and community-based
organizations representing the neighborhoods surrounding the proposed Atlantic
Yards project site.
We write today out of a deep concern that the EmpireState Development Corporation
will not provide to the Public Authorities Control Board the information
they will need to make an informed decision about the risks and benefits
of the Atlantic Yards project.
We are particularly concerned about the profound range of consequences resulting
from concentrating, in what would be the nation’s most densely populated
urban tract, adjacent to one of Brooklyn’s busiest intersections, three
Department of Homeland Security-designated terror targets: a glass-walled
sports arena and a glass-clad office tower built above the borough’s largest
transportation hub, which was, in 1997, the target of a thwarted terror
These concerns were made known to the ESDC in responses to its Draft Scope
of Analysis for the Atlantic Yards from CBN, Brooklyn Community Boards 2,
6 and 8, and many elected representatives and community groups. Unfortunately,
the ESDC failed to acknowledge these concerns in its Final Scope of Analysis,
or in its subsequent Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Discouragingly,
the issue was not addressed in the Final Environmental Impact Statement,
which was recently released.
The most serious of these concerns include:
The potential effects on the Atlantic Yards’ financials when the Terrorism
Risk Insurance Extension Act expires at the end of next year, and the
potential need for additional subsidies to cover currently “unanticipated”
project insurance costs.
The indirect socioeconomic impact of insurance availability and affordability
for surrounding property and business owners. At risk is the pool of locally
available affordable housing as well as the sustainability of existing
local small businesses. We base our concerns on the reduction by Allstate
of their share of Brooklyn’s homeowners’ insurance market, based on risks
brought to light in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
(Recent supporting AP and NYT articles can be found at: http://www.texaswatch.org/media/ap062206.htm
How varying requirements for security might affect police, or even the
project developer’s, decisions to create additional limitations on the
public’s right of entry to the project’s “publicly accessible open space.”
How traffic flow, air quality, public health and business activity will be
affected, given that no requirements have been specified for traffic and
security barriers, backpack and vehicle inspections at arena events, elevated
terror threat levels, or other easily anticipated scenarios.
Under what conditions commercial vehicles might have to be rerouted
in order to safeguard the project’s essentially all-glass “Urban Room,”
which would be both a component of the project’s “publicly accessible
open space” and the main entryway to the MTA’s Atlantic Avenue Station.
The potential impact on emergency response times resulting from the
already-degraded traffic flow extensively documented in the DEIS, as well
as the potential effect on existing emergency evacuation plans.
What post-9/11 safety codes and standards will be used for the design and
construction of the project. (We note that while NYC’s Building Codes
are to be upgraded at the end of this year, the ESDC has reserved its
right to override city requirements as it sees fit [General Project Plan,
page 4]. These standards may affect the lives of first responders, and
everyone else living at, working in, and visiting Atlantic Yards and its
What portion of Department of Homeland Security grants to New York City,
and other such state, agency, and local expenditures, will have to be
devoted to the ongoing protection of this privately developed project?
All such capital and operational expenditures should be included in the
financial analysis of this project and its public subsidies.
The ESDC has claimed that it does not have a specific mandate to look at post-9/11 issues. It is equally true, however, that the ESDC should have a public responsibility to fully acknowledge and analyze safety concerns brought to its attention by the community in accordance with the SEQRA process. Indeed, in a recent case, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court ruled that consideration of terrorism concerns in a process similar to that required under SEQRA is justified on the grounds that it provides information pertinent to governmental decision-making even though such analysis is not specifically required.
Issues of public safety and security related to terrorism should be as much a part of New York’s planning process as earthquake protections are to San Francisco’s. Therefore, we respectfully ask the PACB to urge the ESDC to study and disclose all issues related to terrorism and security prior to the adoption of the General Project Plan and the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Atlantic Yards as a critical matter of public safety.
Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc.
By: Candace Carponter, Co-Chairperson By: Therese Urban, Co-Chairperson
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
Borough President Marty Markowitz
United States Senator Charles Schumer
United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
NYS Governor-elect Elliott Spitzer
NYS Attorney General-elect Andrew Cuomo
NYS Senator Carl Andrews
NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery
NYS Senator Kevin Parker
NYS Senator Martin Connor
NYS Senator Martin Dilan
NYS Senator Martin Golden
NYS Senator Carl Kruger
NYS Senator John Sampson
NYS Senator Malcolm Smith
NYS Senator Diane J. Savino
Assemblymember Hakeem Jeffries
Assemblymember Roger Green
Assemblymember James F. Brennan
Assemblymember Joseph R. Lentol
Assemblymember Joan L. Millman
Assemblymember Peter J. Abbate Jr.
Assemblymember William F. Boyland Jr.
Assemblymember Adele Cohen
Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz
Assemblymember Diane Gordon
Assemblymember Dov Hikind
Assemblymember N. Nick Perry
Assemblymember Frank R. Seddio
Assemblymember Annette Robinson
Assemblymember Helene E. Weinstein
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
Councilmember Tracy Boyland
Councilmember Yvette Clarke
Councilmember Letitia James
Councilmember Bill de Blasio
Councilmember Al Vann
Councilmember David Yassky
Councilmember Erik Dilan
Councilmember Simcha Felder
Councilmember Lewis Fidler
Councilmember Vincent Gentile
Councilmember Sara Gonzalez
Councilmember Michael Nelson
Councilmember Dominic Recchia
Councilmember Diana Reyna
Councilmember Kendall Stewart