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Freddy: Bloomy a Brooklyn nightmare

Candidate Ferrer says public needs to know the truth about Atlantic Yards … and the mayor’s all wrong on Red Hook piers

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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 bid.

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 to Brooklyn.”

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,” he said.

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