Photomontage created by Abby Weissman for
Original image from Gehry Partners.
In post-9/11 New York City, why does our government still want to build a 60-story glass tower over a 20,000-seat arena, with 17+ other buildings, on one of the busiest and most crucial intersections in Brooklyn, under a crowded flight path to Laguardia Airport, in a densely populated residential area?
In 2004, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly was asked about the likelihood of another terrorist attack on NYC. Mr. Kelly said "We have this threat, this overarching terrorist threat, that we face every day in this city." (The New York Times, May 22, 2004).
Incredulously, the threat of terrorism was barely mentioned in both the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Atlantic Yards project. This is not surprising considering how the arrogant NYS government agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, hastily prepared the two Environmental Impact reports solely to guarantee final approval of the massive project for Chairman Gargano's "buddy" Bruce Ratner before the corrupt Pataki administration left office on December 31, 2006. (They made the deadline by just ten days by working through the Thanksgiving weekend).
The Atlantic Yards development will sit under a main flight path for planes flying into Laguardia Airport (see illustration on right). On many nights, depending on the wind direction the continuous stream of passenger jets can be seen and heard, flying very low, directly over Fort Greene. (For more information on air traffic patterns, see the Flight Path feature for an enlarged FAA illustration of the NY/NJ area air traffic.)
The massive project will be located in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in New York City -- on the corners of Brooklyn's three main thoroughfares (Atlantic Avenue, Flatbush Avenue, and 4th Avenues). Currently, the traffic is usually backed up for blocks at most times. Unfortunately for us who live here Atlantic Avenue is also the main emergency evacuation route in Brooklyn.
FAA flight path illustration
According to the ESDC's twisted logic, the emergency usage of the Atlantic Avenue evacuation route would never occur during an arena event, because, in severe weather (or any similar emergency) the arena event would have already been cancelled. This is very reassuring, especially considering Ratner would like to host 224 arena events a year for the project to be profitable. That's around 4 events a week. Are most emergencies scheduled? Are weather predictions always right? What about a chemical or gas leak, or any other "unscheduled" emergency, such as the toxic gas leak scare that happened recently in Queens from a train derailment in Masbeth?
The signature 60-story building, "Miss Brooklyn," will crown a retail mall, offices, lots of apartments, and a 20,000-seat basketball arena with underground parking next door. The project will be the densest, most overcrowded development in the United States - with the most residents per acre. The arena and main buildings will be integrated with NYC's third largest subway station hub and an LIRR train station.
Many of the Atlantic Yards buildings and their multifaceted exteriors will be mostly glass and steel, including the tallest "Miss Brooklyn." We can't stop thinking about the horrifying excerpt from the article below: "One of the lessons learned after the 1998 embassy bombings was that 80 percent of the casualties were caused by flying glass."
Neither the NYPD or the US Department of Homeland Security were asked to participate in the formal public Atlantic Yards environmental review and planning process. In addition the ESDC chose to not perform Terrorism studies claiming that they weren’t required to by law according to the existing environmental legislation. Those requirements have not been updated in over 12 years.
In their document entitled "Response to the EIS Comments Pt. 2" the ESDC simply stated that they "have met with NYPD to review the overall project and public safety and security measures." Except they have not made any of their "review" public.
The ESDC's final word on terrorism at the Atlantic Yards reads: "Emergency scenarios such as a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the World Trade Center attack, a biological or chemical attack, or a bomb are not considered a reasonable worst-case scenario and are therefore outside of the scope of the EIS." So, if there really are no credible terrorism fears associated with the 'Yards, why have they not made the NYPD's review and recommendations public? Are they afraid the terrorists will read it?
Over 100,000 people live in the area immediately surrounding the project. This absence of any terrorism review is unbelievably irresponsible and possibly criminal. According to CBN spokesperson Jim Vogel, "It is unacceptable that [our] safety and security should be compromised by hair-splitting about the letter of the law." Have we not learned any lessons from 9/11?
Remember all the criticism that ensued when it was discovered that the NYPD were not consulted on the Freedom Tower's design? The Freedom Tower had to be subsequently redesigned to include both the NYPD's and Homeland Security's anti-terrorism concerns. The “Security” redesign incorporated adding back the street grid to allow faster access to first responders.
By contrast, the largest single-source private development in the history of New York City, the Atlantic Yards, with its 17+ skyscrapers and 20,000 seat arena received no terrorism review. The Atlantic Yards development ignores all logic and safety concerns by removing critical access streets and creating "superblocks," which were considered by the renowned urban activist and author Jane Jacobs to be dehumanizing, isolating and failed.
I guess Brooklyn residents are expendable in the eyes of our government officials. Perhaps things would be different if we lived in Sheldon Silver's district in Manhattan.
-- Pleasant dreams for the future. Remember, hindsight is 20/20.
Read the 2005 Atlantic Yards terrorism analysis "white paper" from the U.S. Department of Defense. Adobe Acrobat Reader required. An excerpt from that study is below on the right column.
On a separate note, we wish Mr. Bruno the best of luck on the ongoing Federal investigation into possible corruption and criminal behavior.
Articles Relating to Terrorism and the Yards:
NYPD says al-Qaida operative favored limo bomb for U.S. targets
An al-Qaida operative conducting surveillance on U.S. soil in 2000 favored using a limousine packed with explosives or a hijacked oil tanker truck to attack financial institutions in Manhattan and New Jersey, police officials said Thursday.
"The most obvious technique to utilize, that comes to mind ... would be a limousine in the VIP underground car park," the operative, Dhiren Barot, wrote in a memo about the Prudential Building in Newark, N.J.
Barot also suggested that "arson may be the best choice" and advised "ramming trucks (oil tankers, etc.) straight through the glass front entrance into the lobby area."
The memo was quoted during a New York Police Department briefing on terror threats for private security officials from Wall Street firms and other businesses.
Patton said Barot considered trying to rent office space in one of the buildings to ensure easy access. His notes show he also was drawn to targets with vast expanses of glass - a legacy of the al-Qaida attacks on U.S. embassies in Africa.
"One of the lessons learned after the 1998 embassy bombings was that 80 percent of the casualties were caused by flying glass," Patton said."

Excerpted from the New York Daily News
on Nov. 16, 2006.
A threat of radiological bomb attacks at seven professional football stadiums was posted this week on an internet site.
As printed in the article: "The message said trucks would deliver radiological bombs to stadiums in New York, Miami, Atlanta, Seattle, Houston, Oakland and Cleveland -- and that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden would claim responsibility."
''The death toll will approach 100,000 from the initial blasts and countless other fatalities will later occur as result from radioactive fallout.''

Excerpted from the New York Times
on Oct. 19, 2006.
Whether or not any recent terrorist threats in our news turn out to be real or not now is unimportant. What's important is: our public's safety may be severely jeopardized due to the greed of a well-connected developer (Bruce Ratner of FRC) and some shortsighted, corrupt New York City and State government officials.
Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project
Authored by:
Christina Cope, Senior Environmental Policy Analyst for the Department of Defense
Alan M. Rosner, retired strategic and business analyst, formerly with MTA Metro North Railroad.
The BAY Project as a Terrorist Target
There are many factors that make this project vulnerable to becoming a target of terrorist activity. These include:
• BAY’s proximity to the biggest transportation hub in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Avenue Station, serving 10 subway lines and a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) terminus. In this context it is relevant to consider the following threats to centralized transportation hubs.
- The Atlantic Avenue Station was targeted in a 1997 terrorist plot. (See Jihad in Brooklyn, by Samuel Katz, New American Library, 2005.) And recently, Atlantic Avenue Station renovation plans were mysteriously discovered scattered loose on Brooklyn Streets. (See NY Post, February 6, 2005)
- The Herald Square Station was the focus of a thwarted suicide bombing. (See NY Magazine, December 6, 2004.)
- Grand Central Terminal plans were found in the leader of the Spanish train bombing’s computer. (See Madrid Train Bombing Suspect Had Sketch of New York's Grand Central Terminal, By Daniel Woolls, Associated Press Writer, March 2, 2005)
• Proximity of the BAY Project to critical land transportation routes, three major cross borough thoroughfares: 4th, Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.
• A sports arena with publicly scheduled mass events neighboring the Atlantic Avenue Station, major local thoroughfares and the project’s other 19 high-rise buildings. Designed by Frank Gehry, the buildings will have an international profile.
• The 19 high-rise buildings are designed around central courtyards accessible to the public and city streets. Mimicking the Oklahoma City truck bomb (a Ryder rental truck with 4 to 5,000 pounds of explosives), a terrorist would be able to drive inside and destroy multiple high-rise towers in a single explosive event (Special Report, Cable News Network, 1996).
• Neither the arena nor the towers are set back from the streets or avenues, making them subject to the full force of car or truck bombs. The Freedom Tower was forced into redesign by the threat of a bomb-laden 18-wheeler exploding next to the building. This real threat remains for the BAY project.
• The high-end commercial space in the high-rises that can be expected to include government and/or financial offices, declared Al Qaida targets.
• The vast numbers of people living, working, and passing through the complex every day constitute another declared Al Qaida target criteria. Stadium spectators, business persons, retail shoppers, commuters and people who live in the complex’s buildings will add to the current daily use of Atlantic Avenue Station.

Excerpted from: Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project, from the US Department of Defense, July 6, 2005, located on
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