Thursday, August 24, 2006

Atlantic Yards Hearing in a Word: Raucous

"Raucous" is having its day in the sun. There are no less than four headlines today (so far) about the Atlantic Yards hearing that use the word "raucous"--as in "Raucous Meeting" or "Raucous Hearing" or "Raucous Crowd." A Google News search of "Raucous" turns up a dozen results, all of them articles about last night's big public hearing on Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, not counting AP's account which was published in multiple newspapers. (In addition to calling it "raucous," the Star Ledger said it was like "open mike night at a mud slinging contest.")

All of the comments about the, well, raucous nature of the hearing and the crowd aside, one begins to sniff the end game in the making--the trimming of the project that is likely to occur so that prominent backers like Borough President Marty Markowitz can be big supporters while saying their efforts led to a somewhat smaller project. Markowitz suggested that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank should remain Brooklyn’s tallest building rather than losing its status to Frank Gehry’s 620-foot “Miss Brooklyn.” He also said some fo the buildings nearest Prospect Heights had to be smaller and that traffic and parking solutions are needed. Even the Regional Plan Association's surprising quasi-endorsement of the project yesterday contained important caveats about taking a hard look at the "second phase" of the development and a slap at project planners for their failure to plan for transit and transportation improvements.

Our awe of the day is reserved for Norman Oder's superb and thorough coverage of last night's events, which trumps all the other coverage. Mr. Oder has produced what is clearly the definitive report of the day about the seven-hour-long hearing and one which, by virtue of his fetish for detail and accuracy, is likely the most trustworthy account of events. If you read one account of the hearing, make it his Atlantic Yards Report article.


Blogger Sunset Parker said...

I think you have to recognize that this end game was always in the making. Knowing there were going to be protests, Ratner's original plan was a "first offer", a too ridiculous to be seriously considered concept. Something he could still pull back from. Protesters protested. Now, they're gonna pull back. Surprise, surprise. The past year or so has been a formality like what one goes through for the first few minutes of haggling for a jar of dates in a Bahrain bazaar. Everyone can say they've won, though its played out like a piece of kabuki theater written centuries ago. My point has consistently been "Of course it will certaily go through and of course it will definitely be smaller, with various local concessions." These two facts always seemed pretty incontravertible. I've said this again and again on my blog and on Dope on the Slope's (he agreed that it was most likely going to go through, but voices needed to be heard. I agree wholeheartedly.)

The interesting angle is that those protesting the project have actually played a very real part in designing it in the sense that various issues brought up by yourself, NoLandGrab, Oder, and so many others, issues that should have been more thoroughly investigated and brought up by mainstream media (yeah right), will now be addressed and incorporated. Not all, but some or many. The only people who lose are people who actually thought the project could be halted altogether. I suspect that most protesters didn't really feel that was a realistic outcome and were just trying to make their voices heard and bring to light these very real issues that corporate-owned media glossed over.

In a sense, the protesters have also handed Ratner a major victory. Certainly a PR one. Now that he has pulled back the plans, he can say that he has incorporated the protesters' and public outcry into the plans and look like a compromiser (meanwhile I don't believe for a second all those original plans were anything but an offer meant to be bargained down to his real plan.) Now Ratner, Markowitz and the rest can say, see, we made it smaller, we listened to you.

I'm not saying people shouldn't have protested, I'm just saying this whole thing is still playing out exactly by a playbook written in a boardroom or smoky backroom five or ten years ago and the protesters have played exactly the role that Ratner etal. intended.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what are you talking about. a scaleback that includes eminent domain and an arena will not remove any opponents. and you wrote that "now that Ratner has scaled back." huh? no doubt he will, but it won't be sufficient. this is a figh to the death. who wins, I don't know, but its not a fight over token, pre-planned "changes." that playbook works often, but not on this one.

3:39 AM  

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