Thursday, September 07, 2006

Breaking: Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods Calls for Halt to Atlantic Yards Hearings and Investigation

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods is calling for an investigation into the way the August 23 public hearing on the Atlantic Yards development was conducted and asking for problems to be corrected before more forums are held. The group has sent a letter to Empire State Development Corp. Chair Charles Gargano outlining dozens of problems, including deliberate exclusion of opponents of the project, and asking for a system for fair public hearings before the process goes forward.

According to a press release, "CBN offered to produce affidavits testifying to questionable irregularities in the admission policy and conduct of the raucous Public Hearing." The group asked the ESDC to investigate the way the hearing was conducted and asked that it "hold a public hearing that complies with the legislative purpose and intent of providing a fair forum." The group also demanded that no more hearings take place until there is a way to handle the large number of people that want to testify and until there are "appropriate controls for the method of conduct of the hearing."

It was widely reported that project backers bused in supporters, bought them lunch and helped them pack into the space in which the hearing was held on August 23. (see Atlantic Yards Report for some of the flavor.) The CBN's letter to Mr. Gargano alleges, among other things, that the auditorium was already half full when the door were open to the public, that doorkeepers favored project supporters, that they let backers sneak in through the press entrance and that even busloads of children were shown to the front of the line.

It is worth noting that the CBN was chosen by the state and city and got a $230,000 grant to coordinate community response to the DEIS, so one can assume that their allegations have some credibility. Even if only a handful are true, they're still disturbing, and play right into the hands of those that have said the ESDC is not even interested in creating the appearance of fair public hearings.

Earlier this week Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn urged the public to skip the September 12 public meeting in voting in the primary that day.

More later.

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