The Escalation in Brooklyn
Bush's massive escalation of the Iraq war isn't the only escalation New Yorkers have to worry about. We are facing a massive escalation of the amount of money taxpayers are expected to subsidize to Pataki/Bloomberg buddy Ratner so he can build his dream project at Atlantic Yards.
It seems that the mayor's office has recently let slip that the amount of capital improvements the city is expected to pay for for Ratner's Atlantic Yards project is around twice what was promised almost exactly 2 years ago, and that there is no cap on the amount the city may have to pay out for Ratner.
In the 2/18/05 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) proposed $100 million in taxpayer money for capital improvements to make Ratner's plan possible. In the Bloomberg administration's newest capital budget, the mayor proposes $205 million for Atlantic Yards. I think you can do the math: with little fanfare (and even less press coverage) the mayor has just doubled the amount you and I have to pay for Ratner to build his project. Can we have an accountability moment here? Why the sudden increase?
When the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff was asked whether the was a cap on the amount taxpayers were expected to shell out for Ratner, the response was:
"There isn't a cap, but other than escalations of construction costs, I'm not anticipating anything else," [Doctoroff] said, adding, "It's a big project; things change."
In just 2 years we are being asked to pay double what we originally were told to expect. The project is projected to take upwards of 20 years. Should we expect a similar kind of escalation in our costs even 2 years? Why is this starting to sound like Boston's "Big Dig" to me? Except in this case the money and inconvenience are being expended for the profit of a private individual...who just happens to have been Pataki's law school buddy.
In other Atlantic Yards news, the opening arguments of the first court case surrounding the state's misuse of eminent domain begin on Wednesday, February 7th, at 2:00 p.m., United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Courtroom 11-B. The hearing is public should you want to observe this historic case. I should note, the outcome of this case could set an important precedent regarding the use of eminent domain. Legal geeks should not miss it!
Two other events worth mentioning are:
Laugh Donâ€™t Destroy
An evening of comedy benefiting the Develop Donâ€™t Destroy Brooklyn Legal Fund
Featuring Michael Showalter, Eugene Mirman, Kristen Schaal, Jon Benjamin, Robin Cloud, Gilad Foss, Andrea Rosen, Patrick Borelli, Chelsea Peretti and other special guests.
Hosted by: Baron Vaughn
Tuesday, February 6th, 8:30 p.m.
702 Union Street at Fifth Avenue
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Tickets are $20. Seating is limited (first come, first served). Doors open at 8 p.m.
Film Screening of "Brooklyn Matters,"
the new documentary by filmmaker, urban planner and historian Isabel Hill about Bruce Ratner's "Atlantic Yards" project, will be screened at Columbia University.
Thursday, February 8, 8:00 p.m.
Columbia University. 114 Avery.
Presented by Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Urban Planning Program
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
I have heard good things about this film when it was screened earlier. Architecture and urban planner nerds should not miss this!