Photocollage by Abby Weissman*. Original photo by AP.
Atlantic Yards Google Map created by keegan
Mayor Bloomberg's hypocrisy knows no limits. There he was on TV, on EARTH DAY, smugly grandstanding for a greener, less polluted New York City -- the very same man who personally gave developer Bruce Ratner carte blanche to build the controversial environmentally-challenged project, Atlantic Yards.
The massive Atlantic Yards development, which includes a 19,000-seat basketball arena and 16 high-rises is a well-documented environmental nightmare waiting to happen. Since it was first announced in 2003 numerous community groups and organizations (such as the Fort Greene Association, Society for Clinton Hill, Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, the Sierra Club, and NYPIRG) have consistently expressed their concerns over the major environmental impacts of the mega-project on all Brooklyn's quality of life. The groups raised money, hired experts, wrote reports, made presentations - with all efforts and concerns falling on deaf ears from the Bloomberg administration. In response, holier-than-thou Bloomberg has portrayed the project's opponents as selfish spoiled children. The Atlantic Yards plan has since become the poster child for bad outdated urban design, unmitigated environmental & safety issues, and political corruption on the highest level -- and it couldn't have happened without earth-lover Mike's full support.
Because he believed in the project so much (as he now believes in protecting the environment), Bloomberg helped assure that the Atlantic Yards planning process would completely bypass all NYC's current stringent zoning, environmental laws, land-use and review processes (called ULURP, the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) – including many of his newer initiatives which he now preaches for other cities to adapt. As the largest single source development in the history of NYC, the construction of the Atlantic Yards could take 20 years or longer, putting the project well into Mayor Bloomberg's much-publicized PlaNYC 2030 his sweeping environmental agenda for the next quarter-century.
With the Ratner project's numerous "unmitigated" environmental impacts looming on the near horizon, Brooklyn's future ecosystem apparently doesn't figure in the Mayor's grandiose "greener and cleaner NYC for all" plan. Manhattan Mike's own neighborhood, the Upper East Side, greatly benefits from his proposal – with more trees and open space, and much less automobile pollution and gridlock due to his midtown congestion pricing plan.*
The image above showing the Mayor and "ATLANTIC YARDS" is a collage created in Photoshop. In reality Mayor Bloomberg did not mention Atlantic Yards even once during his presentation on PlaNYC 2030 despite the fact that many of his initiatives relate directly to the Atlantic Yards – such as affordable housing, community involvement in new projects, new housing over railyards, sustainability standards, population density, new parkland, and others.
The Atlantic Yards mega-development is expected to be the densest urban tract in the United States by a long shot. One wonders if any of the project's supporters in our government even read the AY environmental reports themselves with their multitudes of "unmitigated" ecological issues – like traffic, sewage, winds, noise, pollution, shadows, and overcrowding? They certainly did not read the Atlantic Yards Business Plan, seeing as how the Mayor's friend has never submitted one. Try that at your local bank when seeking your next business loan approval.
In the final push to get the project approved Bruce's company spent over $2.1 million on lobbyists in Albany in 2006 – the third largest lobbying effort in the entire state. A billion dollars in estimated profits were on the line. Another $900,000 was spent on "public relations." Ratner also donated over $500,000 to Mayor Bloomberg's favorite charity shortly before the Mayor signed off on the project. Environmental Mike returned the favor, by earmarking hundreds of millions of dollars of our public NYC subsidies, along with billions more expected in state funds to help his pal build his privately-owned monstrosity.
Mr. Bloomberg may be a good businessman but as a mayor he has demonstrated time and time again that he is not only completely out of touch with reality but clueless as to the everyday experiences of most middle and lower class NYC residents. He is also extremely arrogant. Who in their right mind would sanction a massive "super block" housing project and car-oriented stadium, with giant surface parking lots, and sunless private "parkland," on one of the most crowded intersections in Brooklyn, and then position yourself as an "Al Gore" environmentalist?
Mayor Mike's real legacy in office will not be a greener New York City. Instead he is helping to turn the Brooklyn of 2030 into an ugly, congested, polluted, concrete nightmare. So much for democracy in action.
- by Abby Weissman for
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* Note: As it releates to the Congestion Pricing, the northern boundary of "midtown" was unexplicably extended north, from the previous 60th Street to 86th Street recently, seemingly to further protect and insulate Bloomberg and his rich neighbor's homesteads from future environmenal issues.
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