**FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE**
September 15, 2011
Contact: Amyre Loomis at (718) 260-9191
COUNCIL MEMBER LETITIA JAMES COMMENTS ON EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION AND FOREST CITY RATNER COMPANIES’ APPEAL OF COURT DECISION ORDERING ADDITIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW OF ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT
(Brooklyn, NY)— “The drawn out Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights has anguished local affordable housing advocates, and become a hardship to businesses, residents, pedestrians and drivers. Residents in the area remember when community voices first rose together against the corporate will of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards. This project from its inception has posed a series of threats to the community.
As time moves forward, the mounting distance of Ratner’s promises becomes more apparent with this project. Ratner is not delivering on the 2,250 affordable housing units he promised, and Ratner has not fulfilled his promise of 17,000 jobs for the community. Simply put, ESDC and FCRC have not delivered much to the community, and continue to do an injustice to central and downtown Brooklyn residents by disregarding their voices. Will any of the affordable housing and jobs expectations - promises that Ratner originally proposed ever come to pass?
Now, advocates for affordable housing around the Atlantic Yards site will just have to wait; this appears to be the message sent by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) at this time. Surprisingly, they will fight a court decision made last July that ordered additional environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project (a ruling that came after two years of litigation, which protested ESDC's plans to increase the length of the projection construction from 10 years to 25 years).
In filing the appeal, the ESDC will now have no obligation to obey the court order voiding New York State Supreme Court Judge Marcy Friedman’s direction to slow down/stop construction until the state agency conducts a new phase of environmental review of the project, including a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS); as well as a determination on whether to approve the MGPP for Phase II of the project, which constitutes the bulk of the project.
This potentially means that FCRC is able to continue building the arena until the appeals court hears the case - which could take a year or longer. Again, the community’s wishes are simply not considered by the ESDC and FCRC, who see no problem to burden the community with 25 years of construction. FCRC and ESDC are showing once again their commitment to using corporate power to block the community.
An environmental review of the project provides checks and balances, and is a process to protect community. It is obvious that the ESDC and FCRC do not want to spend time and money on a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement because they know other issues might come up that would need to be negotiated. Fighting the court decision ordering additional environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project is yet another stalling tactic by FCRC and ESDC that undermines the protection of the community provided by the New York State Supreme Court. Also, the community continues to wait for Governor Cuomo to follow through on his promises to reform State government, and make the Atlantic Yards project a benefit for Brooklyn.”