Several Brooklyn civic and community organizations, joined by local elected representatives, argued in state court today that the Empire State Development Corporation improperly rushed through major changes to the Atlantic Yards project without legally required study.
The modified plan changed the schedule for construction, delaying the finished product by 17 years and deferring the creation of public space. It expands the size of the surface parking at the site, seemingly creating the “blight” that the state has used to justify the use of eminent domain in the first place. The effects of the expanded timeline on the surrounding neighborhoods were not studied in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, ignoring the “hard look” required under state environmental law.
In addition to altering the construction plan, the suit contends that ESDC improperly ceded decision power over future changes to the development plan to Forest City Ratner, the developer.
This is the first lawsuit from members of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition, which has tried to work with the state and Ratner towards a better site plan for three years. The Tri-State Campaign (which is a member of BrooklynSpeaks but did not join this lawsuit) has argued that the project’s transportation planning includes serious flaws, including the creation of 1,400 “temporary” surface parking spaces.
The petitioners in the case include State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assemblymember James Brennan, NYC Councilmember Letitia James and Brooklyn Speaks member organizations Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corp., the Boerum Hill Association, the Brooklyn Heights Association, the Fifth Avenue Committee, the Park Slope Civic Council and the Pratt Area Community Council.
Image: From the BrooklynSpeaks website.