Bloomy a Brooklyn nightmare
says public needs to know the truth about Atlantic Yards … and
the mayor’s all wrong on Red Hook piers
Democratic mayoral candidate Fernando Ferrer broke rank with his rivals
this week by addressing for the first time in the campaign plans by developer
Bruce Ratner to build a basketball arena and high-rises emanating from
Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
Specifically, Ferrer attacked the process by which the Atlantic Yards
plan is being ushered through the public realm.
“There is next to nothing being discussed in the public domain with
respect to the Nets arena,” Ferrer said outside Brooklyn Borough
Hall on Monday.
“The public has a right to know who will be displaced, how much will
it cost, what is the math of this project?” he said. “To call
that process not transparent is probably the understatement of the year.”
Ferrer was joined at the Borough Hall fountain by Brooklyn Congress members
Nydia Velazquez, Major Owens and Ed Towns, who endorsed the former Bronx
borough president’s campaign.
He also offered the first condemnation by a mayoral hopeful of the Bloomberg
administration’s turning away of a billion-dollar trade deal from
Brooklyn’s last shipping port.
“When I am mayor, I’m not going to walk away from the table
when it comes to jobs creation and training,” said Ferrer.
“I’m not going to get distracted by visiting dignitaries and
sports teams,” he said, chastising the mayor for failing to preserve
the “hundreds” of waterfront jobs while favoring pet projects
like the 2012 Olympics.
He blasted the Bloomberg administration for turning away a $1.6 billion
trade deal with a German shipping company, which was first reported by
The Brooklyn Papers.
In a statement released after the endorsement event, Ferrer vowed to “institute
policies and provide the leadership needed to preserve and expand the
number and quality of jobs on the Brooklyn waterfront.”
American Stevedoring Inc., which employs 600 union workers on the piers
loading and unloading cargo, has said that without a lease extension —
and with the city planning to take its most vital dock, Pier 10, for the
cruise industry — it will be nearly impossible for it to operate
there after its current lease expires in 2007.
Ferrer said the city should be negotiating leases to preserve both “cruise
ship and container industry on the waterfront and the high-paying jobs
these sectors provide,” as well as “planning for new cruise
line job creation.”
Ferrer went on to say the city should “work in partnership with port
businesses to structure leases giving a competitive advantage to New York
City in bidding against New Jersey and other container ports.”
As a parting shot he said that if the Red Hook waterfront was a designated
Olympic site, it would be getting more attention from Deputy Mayor for
Economic Development Daniel Doctoroff, who has said the administration’s
priority for the piers is the cruise industry.
Until the Ferrer press conference, Ratner’s plan to build a $430
million, 19,000-seat arena for his New Jersey Nets at the edge of Downtown
Brooklyn and 17 high-rises with 4,500 housing units and office and commercial
space on adjacent property stretching into Prospect Heights, had not been
raised as an issue in the campaign.
The Ratner plan also relies on the state’s authority to condemn private
property for the developer under the power of eminent domain, which would
displace both residents and businesses in Prospect Heights.
Council Speaker Gifford Miller has focused most of his Bloomberg opposition
to the plan for a new Jets football stadium on Manhattan’s West Side,
which the mayor staunchly supports and touts as a key to winning the Olympic
Despite the similarities between the two sports-facility projects —
both the West Side stadium and Ratner’s arena depend on city and
state infrastructure expenditures in the hundreds of millions and on the
sale of development rights to build over Metropolitan Transportation Authority
rail yards — Miller has been reluctant to weigh in on the Brooklyn
arena except to say that he supports bringing “a major league team
Miller’s campaign office declined The Brooklyn Papers’ requests
for comment on the two Brooklyn issues.
Fellow Democratic mayoral hopefuls C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough
president, and Rep. Anthony Weiner, of Brooklyn and Queens, did not return
calls seeking comment for this article.
Last Thursday, in a press conference outside City Hall, state Senators
Velmanette Montgomery and Kevin Parker, and Assemblymen James Brennan,
Roger Green, Nick Perry and Felix Ortiz — all of Brooklyn —
spoke out about the lack of discussion of the Ratner arena proposal in
a public forum.
Councilwoman Letitia James has expressed her dismay at Miller’s delaying
the scheduling of a hearing on the plan, for which $50 million is allocated
in the Fiscal Year 2006 budget proposed by Bloomberg last week. The council
will vote on that budget next month. Meanwhile, two of her Brooklyn colleagues
in the council, David Yassky and Diana Reyna, have endorsed Miller.
In news reports and a statement released to the press, Bloomberg’s
office has affirmed that the coming of the cruise industry to Brooklyn
would be a boon to the waterfront and the borough in general.
“Unemployment in Brooklyn is down from 8.6 percent to 5.7 percent
in the last year, and 18,000 more Brooklynites are working today,”
said Bloomberg campaign spokesman Stu Loeser.
“Freddy [Ferrer] opposes jobs on the West Side [and] jobs at Atlantic
Yards, and now 11,000 construction and 600 permanent jobs in Greenpoint-Williamsburg,”
said Loeser, referring to the rezoning plan passed this week that will
encourage residential development along the northern Brooklyn waterfront,
which was formerly a manufacturing zone.
“Freddy owes the voters a plan to create jobs and not just kill them,”
©2005 Community News Group