Court of Appeals agrees: 2009 Atlantic Yards plan approved illegally

BrooklynSpeaks sponsors demand Governor and Mayor intervene to reduce project impacts, deliver promised housing and jobs

Contact:   Gib Veconi – 917.881.0401

Jo Anne Simon – 917.685.3747

BROOKLYN, April 12, 2012: In a unanimous decision, the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court today found that Justice Marcy Friedman correctly ruled in July 2011 that the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) 2009 approval of Atlantic Yards’ Modified General Project Plan violated State environmental law. Among other changes, the plan renegotiated in 2009 between the State and Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) extended Atlantic Yards’ construction schedule from 10 to 25 years. Justice Friedman’s order that the ESDC conduct additional environmental analyses and revisit the project plan will remain in effect.

“ESDC’s decision to appeal was deeply disappointing both to the community and to its elected representatives, who had pressed the agency to comply with the court order,” said Jo Anne Simon, 52nd District Democratic Leader. “Now that the Appellate Division has upheld the lower court’s decision, we strongly urge Governor Cuomo to act to restore credibility to this process, and direct his agency to conduct a thorough and transparent assessment of the environmental impact of this project on central Brooklyn that involves our communities in a meaningful way.”

BrooklynSpeaks sponsors had argued against the appeal, contending that ESDC fast-tracked its approval of the 2009 schedule concessions demanded by Forest City in order to allow FCRC to meet a deadline necessary for its arena bonds to qualify as tax-exempt. “ESDC’s actions saved the developer hundreds of millions in interest payments,” said Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of the Fifth Avenue Committee, “but at the cost of thousands of units of affordable housing being delayed for decades. The Appellate Division ruling gives the Governor an opportunity to put the project’s public benefits back on the schedule promised.”

The Appellate Division rejected arguments by ESDC and Forest City that the impacts of 25 years of construction to surrounding neighborhoods were likely to be less severe than if Atlantic Yards were completed in 10 years, writing that such a conclusion “is not based on any technical studies of the environmental impacts of protracted construction. It is supported by the mere assertion that the build-out will result in prolonged but less “intense” construction and that most environmental impacts are driven by intensity rather than duration.” Significantly, the Appellate Division noted that ESDC “failed to consider an alternative scenario in which years go by before any Phase II construction is commenced — a scenario in which area residents must tolerate vacant lots, above-ground arena parking, and Phase II construction staging for decades.”

“In the two years since this suit was filed, nearby communities have had a ringside view of continued violations of Atlantic Yards’ stated commitments on air quality, noise and truck safety,” said Danae Oratowski, Chair of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. “Less than six months before Barclays Center opens, we have yet to see the developer’s plans for parking and traffic management, or the City’s plans for crowd control and security. Today’s ruling should be a wake-up call for Mayor Bloomberg to engage the community and work together both to limit the impacts of continued construction, as well as to reduce the effect of the operation of an arena amid historic residential neighborhoods.”

“ESDC not only has allowed Forest City Ratner to steamroll local residents and their elected representatives, but has also played a role in violating State law to the developer’s advantage,” said Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “Taken together with recent revelations of Forest City’s connection to political corruption cases in Brooklyn and Yonkers, today’s ruling shows the need to reform oversight of Atlantic Yards is more urgent than ever. The New York State Assembly has already passed legislation requiring ESDC to create a subsidiary to oversee the project. We now need swift action on the bill by the State Senate, and a commitment by Governor Cuomo to ensure Atlantic Yards is accountable to the public.”

Speak up for residential permit parking in central Brooklyn!

What:  Hearing of the New York City Council Committee on State and Federal Legislation

When:  Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Where:  250 Broadway, 14th Floor

According to the Empire State Development Corporation, when the Barclays Center opens in September 2012, an expected 35-40% of arena patrons will arrive for events by car. That means as many as 6,100 cars travelling to the site for each of the more than 200 events anticipated to be held each year. This barrage of traffic is expected to cause significant delays at more than half of the intersections within a half mile of the arena. It will add to the vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle accidents that have already make Atlantic Avenue Brooklyn’s most dangerous road. And it will result in up to 3,000 arena patrons taking curbside parking spots in Park Slope, Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, and Prospect Heights, clogging already-congested residential side streets.

Among all of the impacts to neighborhood character and quality of life that will come from locating Atlantic Yards’ arena within residential communities, none are of greater consequence to more residents than the traffic generated by arena events. But there is a way to reduce the demand for our local streets. It’s called “residential permit parking,” or RPP, and it’s been effective in other cities, like Boston and Chicago, where sports facilities are located in densely-populated areas. By limiting on-street parking during arena events to local residents, RPP will create a disincentive for arena patrons to drive, reducing congestion and making streets safer.

New York City requires authorization from the State legislature before it can implement RPP. On Wednesday, 11/2 at 10:30AM, the City Council will hear testimony on legislation authorizing the City to enact residential permit parking programs in the five boroughs. The BrooklynSpeaks sponsors urge you to participate in this critical hearing and make your voice heard.

Please email BrooklynSpeaks with your plans to attend and interest in testifying, and thanks for speaking up!

One Minute Voices – Episode 1 – Abdul

This is the first in a series of one-minute casual interviews with people who live and work in the neighborhood of the Dean Street Block Association (DSBA), 6th to Vanderbilt Avenues, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, New York.

This first episode is an interview with Abdul, one of the owners of the Dubai Mini Mart at 486 Dean Street at 6th Avenue. The store sits diagonally across from the southeast corner of the under-construction Barclays Center of the Atlantic Yards project.

Do you live or work in the area? Would you like to add about 60 seconds of your voice to the conversation? If so, contact me at tc[at]threeCeeMedia[dot]com.

Town Hall meeting with Prospect Heights Elected Representatives

Town Hall meeting with Prospect Heights Elected Representatives

Join the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council for a town hall-style meeting with

State Senator Eric Adams,

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries

& City Council Member Letitia James.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • Traffic and transportation (mass transit, street conditions, MTA)
  • Local economy (jobs, housing, small business)
  • Atlantic Yards (revised plan, new impacts)

The meeting will take place at 7:00PM on Thursday, 10/22 in the auditorium at

P.S. 9, 80 Underhill Avenue (between Bergen & St. Marks).

Please bring your questions and concerns for your elected representatives.

Visit for more info

Dean Street Block Association Meeting – Monday, 9/21

TIME:                 Monday,  September 21st at 7:30-9:00
PLACE:              545 Dean Street #1 btw Carlton and 6th Ave


1. Atlantic Yards Status: Next Steps
2. Playground Astroturf
3. Street Trees
4. Fundraising


Check out

for more letters posted

Added September 21, 2009

*** Letter to Mr. Mullen (President & CEO) of the Empire State Development Corporation dated Sept 17, 2009

*** Dean Street Invitation, Letter to Mr. Mullen (President & CEO) of the Empire State Development Corporation dated Aug 10, 2009

How to send your Atlantic Yards comments to the ESDC

ESDC Comment instructions from the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods have been posted. They detail how to respond to the  ESDC on Atlantic Yards – Please send your comments to Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods ( and Serena Derryberry ( and by 5:30 PM, Wednesday, August 26, 2009.

Responding to the ESDC on Atlantic Yards

The pro-forma public hearings have come and gone, and we are now in a public comment period. It is vital that everyone in the community let the ESDC and the 3 Men in a Room (Governor Paterson, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, and…some guy in the State Senate…) know that this is totally unacceptable!

Why Should I Comment?

Government only works when the Public is paying attention. Atlantic Yards has been designed to keep the Public out of the process. As a result, we’re looking at billions in subsidies and grants with no real public benefits on the horizon, all just to build an arena and blight the neighborhoods. Our money. Our neighborhoods.

How Do I Comment? Click here for more info:

ESDC Comment instructions – How to respond to the ESDC on Atlantic Yards – PDF version

ESDC Comment instructions – How to respond to the ESDC on Atlantic Yards – MS Word version

Also posted on the Resources Tab above.

Please remember to send your comments to Serena Derryberry ( and Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods ( by 5:30 PM, Wednesday, August 26, 2009. Thank you!