From Jon Crow, Pacific Street Gardener,
The Bear’s are now officially part of a huge lawsuit announced today aiming to bring the “Atlantic Yards” project (which would loom over the garden) to a halt, and send it back to the drawing boards. Read on…
BROOKLYN, NY— Today twenty-six co-petitioners filed an Article 78
and Declaratory Judgment lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court
(New York County) to annul the Final Environmental Impact Statement
(FEIS) and approval of Forest City Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards”project.
The suit alleges that former Governor Pataki’s Empire State Development
Corporation’s (ESDC) FEIS was fatally flawed
on substantive and
procedural grounds. (Read a summary of the complaint).
Annulment of the FEIS would require the undertaking of a new and
credible environmental impact analysis by Governor Spitzer’s ESDC,
and a new vote by the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB) for
the 22-acre, 16-skyscraper, and arena real development plan in
Prospect Heights and Park Slope, Brooklyn. Defendants on the suit
include the ESDC, the PACB, the MTA and Forest City Ratner
The suit also seeks to enjoin demolition and construction with a
The lawsuit has broad community support with co-petitioners representing
all of the communities surrounding the project site, and beyond,
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), the 41-member coalition Council
of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN), New York Public Interest Research Group
(NYPIRG), Sierra Club, Brooklyn Bear’s Community Garden, Central
Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), Fort Greene Association, Society for
Clinton Hill, Boerum Hill Association, Crown Heights North Association,
Park Slope Neighbors, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, and Friends and
Residents of Greater Gowanus, as well as fifteen other community
organizations and block associations.
Jeffrey S. Baker of Young, Sommer, Ward, Ritzenberg, Baker & Moore is
the lead attorney.
“The ESDC’s rush to reach the pre-determined outcome of its ‘Atlantic
Yards’review before the end of the Pataki administration led to a fatally-
flawed environmental review, and violations of its statutory procedures and
responsibilities,”said lead attorney Jeffrey Baker. “Our suit seeks to annul
the environmental review and approval of ‘Atlantic Yards’ by Charles Gargano’s
Empire State Development Corporation, the Public Authorities Control Board,
and the MTA, necessitating a fresh look from Governor Spitzer, his new ESDC
and MTA, and the PACB.”
“It has been clear for a long time that the ESDC set out to approve
Mr. Ratner’s project by any means necessary, rather than work on behalf of the
public and protect it from the extreme negative impacts of a project of this
scale and extreme density. The ESDC served the public poorly by producing an
unrealistic environmental review while grossly under-reporting the impacts,
refusing to demand mitigation of those impacts, and basically ignoring all
substantial public input. That is why we were compelled to file this lawsuit on
behalf of and along with the other 25 co-petitioners who stand with us
today,”said DDDB legal chair Candace Carponter. “It is striking to note that the ESDC did not demand or effectuate even one significant change or modification of the project Forest City Ratner proposed at the start of the environmental
“The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods provided every possible
assistance to the ESDC to help them arrive at a fair and impartial assessment of
the impacts of this project. CBN conducted an extensive survey of community
members in response to the Draft Scope of Analysis; engaged highly
qualified consultants to decipher and analyze the Draft EIS; successfully
engaged citizens in providing extensive comments to the ESDC; and reported all of the information gathered to the ESDC freely, and within the very short
period of time they dictated,” said CBN co-chair Terry Urban. “Unfortunately,
the bulk of the community’s input was ignored, and CBN, with membership from
41 community organizations, is compelled to demand that such egregious
disservice to the public be corrected.”
New York City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents the district in
which the project would be located, said, “The preliminary injunction
sought by this lawsuit would postpone demolition while protecting my community
and constituents for intimidating and premature destruction. Once the
buildings are torn down they cannot be put back, and the injury to the community–a landscape of empty lots and ‘interim surface parking’ lots, plus
the loss of the familiar buildings that comprise their neighborhood – is
“The huge density of the proposed development would bring more havoc
to drivers and transit riders in downtown Brooklyn, adversely impacting dozens
of intersections,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New
York Public Interest Research Group and its Straphangers Campaign. “The
environmental impact statement offers ridiculous suggestions, such as
asking transit officials to put more buses on gridlocked streets,
where they will just add to traffic; no suggestions for giving buses priority
are made. To paraphrase my daughters, the EIS is lame. ”
All legal papers filed can be found here: http://www.dddb.net/FEIS
Petitioners on the lawsuit:
Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, Inc.
Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc.
NY Public Interest Research Group, Inc.
Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID)
Sierra Club, Inc.
Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association, Inc.
The Brooklyn Bear’s Gardens, Inc.
Bergen Street-Prospect Heights Block Association, Inc.
Boerum Hill Association, Inc.
Brooklyn Vision Foundation, Inc.
Carlton Avenue Association, Inc.
Carroll Street Block Association (5th and 6th Ave), Inc.
Crown Heights North Association, Inc.
Dean Street Block Association, Inc. (4th to 5th Ave)
East Pacific Block Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Association, Inc.
Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Inc.
Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus
Park Slope Neighbors, Inc.
Park Place-Underhill Avenue Block Association
Prospect Heights Action Coalition
Prospect Place of Brooklyn Block Association, Inc.
Society for Clinton Hill, Inc.
South Oxford Street Block Association
South Portland Avenue Block Association, Inc.
Zen Environmental Studies Institute, Ltd.