Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.


1-17-07

"Approved" PACB approves ATLANTIC YARDS PROJECT

On December 20, 2006, after more than three years of debate, sometimes heated and raucous, the Public Authority Control Board (PACB) composed of Governor George Pataki, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno voted to approve the 4.2 billion dollar Atlantic Yards Project (AYP).

There were some last minute negotiations. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) agreed to cut the height of Miss Brooklyn which was to be the tallest building among other high risers in Brooklyn. This would make it lower than the Williamsburg Savings Bank which is 512 feet. Those who lobbied for such an arrangement argued that the bank had become a symbol of Brooklyn; therefore, no building should be higher. I heard a Black politician take pride in achieving said results. The irony is that the bank has been purchased by Magic Johnson’s group. They intend to build luxury apartments. Mr. Johnson is reported to have expressed adamantly rejection of any affordable low income set asides. So, the symbol of Brooklyn will be luxury apartments and, but for a few of us insisting that consideration be given to middle income or working people, the opponent of AYP have not said a word.

This has been consistent with the opponents of the AYP. Construction in downtown Brooklyn is proliferating; some of it with non union labor, yet the opponent never said a word. They seem to have a Captain Ahap/Moby Dick obsession with FCRC. In spite of the fact that FCRC uses union labor, which other developers are not doing, has met with innumerable leaders and other organizations, which other developers have not done and eventually signed a legally binding Community Benefits Agreement, which other developers have not done, still these opponents relentlessly attack FCRC and supporters.

Another change negotiated, was the change in the Housing Program. As part of the affordable housing construction, FCRC had already agreed to build six hundred to one thousand affordable home/ownership units on or off the site. The agreement now is FCRC will seek to build at least 200 of these affordable home-owner units on site. They will be part of the proposed 6,430 units of housing already approved as part of the Atlantic Yards FEIS/GPP. FCRC will seek to build the remaining affordable home-owner units as close to the Atlantic Yards as possible. The Community Benefits Agreement already calls for half of the proposed four thousand five-hundred rental units to be affordable and low-income, all of which will be on site. There were in addition other changes included. FCRC will open a Community Affairs Office on the project site that will be operated and staffed during all phases of the construction project. Also, FCRC will work with the City, State and the United Federation of Teachers on the creation of a new twenty-first century Brooklyn Tech High School, at a location in Brooklyn yet to be determined.
Finally, FCRC agrees to invest three million dollars to improve existing parks in and around the project. FCRC had already agreed to commit 8 acres of open space within the 21 acre AYP footprint. The arena expects to be completed for the 2009-10 basketball season.

However, the opponents still have not given up. They have carved out a large hunk of the community. They are not about to let poor, middle class minorities disturb their comfort zone. Significantly, it is really FCRC and the CBA members, who by carving out an oasis of affordable and low income housing, in an ever expanding desert of luxurious housing, will have prevented complete gentrification of the area. The opponents are now engaged in court battles. It is expected that they will lose there also.

It is important that I single out two Black elected officials. First, Mr. Roger Green, former Assemblyman of the 57th AD, as one of his final acts, he stopped the funding for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhood (CBN) who are fierce opponents of the AYP. Mr. Greene argued that they were engaged in playing the race card. The other elected official, Council member Tish James, approved 130,000 dollars for the same group. Although, as stated said group were attempting to block the AYP. The CBN have said nothing about the other developments in the area, thus, leading to the belief that the CBN is motivated by reasons other than fairness and/or concern for minorities.
For those of us who are apart of the CBA, who debated for over a year and half to achieve the unprecedented agreement, December 20, 2006, will long be remembered as a great day for the people of Brooklyn and the State of New York, in particular for the excluded-for those who stand outside the gate.
The End
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Organizing Meeting on Darfur
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at The House of the Lord Church 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
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The Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry is featured in The Daily Challenge’s Wednesday and Weekend Edition. Reverend Daughtry, known as the “People’s Pastor,” is the National Presiding Minister of the House of the Lord Churches (HOLC). He also pastors the Brooklyn Church. A prolific writer, his books include “No Monopoly on Suffering, Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights,” “My Beloved Community,” “Effectual Prayer,” and “Tupac, Letters to a Son.” HOLC has a weekly broadcast which airs on WWRL 1600 on Sunday from 10:30am-11:00am. He is also on BCAT the 2nd and 4 Sundays at 2pm. Website: www.holnj.org