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The Empire State Development Corporation and MTA public meetings last week regarding the Atlantic Yards project highlighted once again how Brooklynites in support of the project far outnumbers opponents.
At the ESDC hearing before the vote to approve a modified General Project Plan, 40 members of the public gave comment with 31 speaking in favor of the project.
This group represented all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, while opponents were mainly white and⁄or property owners.
The numbers were similar at the public comment session before the MTA approved an air rights deal worth over $100 million with developer Forest City Ratner so the 22−acre arena and mixed market⁄affordable housing project rate⁄housing can move forward.
“I was born here, bred here and probably will die here and I just want what’s best for Brooklyn,” said Darryl Lee, a lifelong Fort Greene resident, who spoke in favor of the plan.
Lee noted how the project will help alleviate the high unemployment rate among black males.
The arena will also bring more people into the borough and give the people here something of which to be proud, he said.
Others speaking in support included small business owners, construction unions and people seeking work and affordable housing.
It also included representatives from the BAM cultural district, nearby Long Island University and the Brooklyn institution Junior’s Restaurant.
“I’m the third generation owner of Junior’s and entertainment and restaurants go together,” said Junior’s owner Alan Rosen, adding that the project will allow his employees to make more money.
“I believe having basketball games and concerts and circuses are great for economic development to the area,” he said.
Others spoke how even President Barack Obama realizes that economic stimulus is needed.
This outpouring of support did not stop opponent organization Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and its spokesperson Daniel Goldstein from offering up a threats of new litigation.
DDDB has been the lead plaintiff in numerous lawsuits to stop the project since it was first announced.
While courts have continually ruled against DDDB, the litigations have been successful in stalling the project.
Goldstein also offered a counter proposal of $120 million for the parcel during the public speaking session of the MTA hearing.
Under this “Unity Plan,” the eight−acre MTA Vanderbilt Yards section of the site would be divided and developed as individual parcels and not include an arena.
Goldstein admitted that the proposal does not have any developers lined up, but said the group has secured capital in excess of $5 million towards the effort.
The money is earmarked for the “Unity Plan” and not for DDDB functions such as litigation, he said.
Goldstein refused to say where the $5 million would come from.
The money also will not go toward Goldstein’s $30,000 salary, which he draws through DDDB fundraisers.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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