Thursday, June 26, 2008

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Nets Arena Appeal

This is not a Monster Truck event, this is one of FCR's blight-making machines. I received the news a few days ago, it still makes me ill. The Supreme Court turned down an appeal from 11 property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena (More from Crain's New York Business). The enactment of Eminent Domain is made viable by declaring the neighborhood blighted. The only blight that has occurred is being generated by the developer, Forest City Ratner (FCR) ripping up the streets and turning a once vibrant neighborhood into a dusty, yet still occupied, ghost town. Who wants to live or do business in the dust bowl? Anyone?
[SIC] June 23. 2008 11:10AM Bloomberg News (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has turned down an appeal from property owners and tenants facing eviction to make room for a new NBA Nets arena in Brooklyn. The justices rejected an appeal that was intended to stop development of the Atlantic Yards project. Eleven property owners and tenants said that using the government's power to take the property, called eminent domain, violates the U.S. Constitution because the project would primarily benefit the developer, not the public. Developer Bruce Ratner said he wants to build 16 skyscrapers, an 18,000-seat arena for the professional basketball franchise and thousands of apartments. The area currently is occupied by a rail yard, industrial buildings, and some businesses and homes...
Neighborhood improvements? This must be the new public tennis courts and bungee-jump tower compliments of FCR. "Live... Work... Play... Atlantic Yards... But first we must kill you with dust." We actually continue to live-work-play in Propect Heights as we've always done. But now we must dodge congested traffic, large piles of construction debris, noise pollution, displaced vermin, and hazardous dust clouds. And as all Prospect Heights residents know, ground-shaking demolition starts at 7:00 AM on the clock. The noise is unbearable. Eminent domain was originally intended as a means to obtain land for the public good (highways, hospitals, schools... etc.). Now it's being mis-used to take property away from home owners to hand over to private developers.Atlantic Yards has been bad for local business and bad for locals — but pro-Arena demonstrators have rallied to tell us why we should hand-over our neighborhood. They come from far and wide, the unions and locals love this project. At 3:00PM they clock-out, leave the rallies, hop on their buses, and head home to Long Island and New Jersey. As townies, we simply walk home.Like big woman in cigarette pants, traffic on Flatbush and Pacific has now reached a disaterous crossroad. FCR has never reaveled their solution to the environmental impact of arena traffic. Allegedly this tax-funded project would only be made possible if it provided so called "affordable" housing, which is no longer the case. As recent news reported, affordable housing is no longer in the plans due to the sagging economy. Now Atlantic Yards turns out to be just another private arena, but that's what this has always been about. Affordable housing was the icing, now just have a very dry sponge cake. The benefits obviously reside lie in the back pocket of the developer, FCR. And still our boys upsate and the city turn a blind eye on these matters. Here's a partial list of agreements with NY State that FCR has been allowed to forego (source: DDDB.net).
  • There will be 50% affordable housing in Atlantic Yards.(Why can't Johnny divide? 2,250 "affordable" units out of 6,430 luxury units is not 50%.)
  • There will be a public open space on the arena roof.(Except for the townies and darkies.)
  • There will be a private green roof on the arena.(Green as in dollars? Who has the keys to the garden?)
  • Ratner spokesman Loren Reigelhaupt: “When it comes to sharing information with the public and governmental bodies, there’s no such thing as too much, as far as we are concerned."(FCR claims they have a business plan with a projection model, but they don't have to make it public since it's an "agreement" with the state of New York, and not the public.)
  • Atlantic Yards will take 10 years to build.(If you own a time machine.)
  • Atlantic Yards went through a rigourous public process.(They did. Bribing unions is a shameless public act.)
  • Atlantic Yards will create 10,000 permanent jobs.(Over the course on a century.)
I find it pathetic that the cost for this Titanic Atlantic Yards project has spiraled far beyond the initial estimates that were approved by Upstate NY a few years back. I find it absolutely ironic that the "iceberg" in this story is the sagging US economy, and not the Supreme Court. I have to quit asking myself "How is this possible?" It helps when Ratner's colleagues and buddies run the state.
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