Gargano to B’klyn: Get big

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Manhattanization of Brooklyn is now official state policy. That’s what Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano said this week, as his agency released a disheartening draft environmental impact statement for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project.

The 2,000 pages of detailed analysis shows that the development is out of scale with its neighbors, would enshroud large areas in shadows, would tax an already-overburdened traffic and transit system, would create an intimidating superblock, and would require the city to spend untold millions to build schools, provide for more cops and add fire service.

That’s progress, Gargano said.

“We are a city of skyscrapers,” he said, tellingly. “We are a city of towers.”

From his Albany aerie, Charles Gargano has decided that the very thing that makes Brooklyn unique — its neighborhood scale — is the very thing that must change.

Of course, that’s Gargano’s modus operandi. His agency cares little for the concerns of locals in the communities it would plunder, choosing to side with the big-time real-estate developers who give so generously to lawmakers’ political campaigns.

ESDC, after all, is also in charge of the so-called Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is not a park at all, but an 85-acre boondoggle crafted to enrich select developers. A decade ago, the community had a perfectly good plan for a park — but Gargano & Co. tossed it in favor of a scheme that would throw open the prime waterfront land for luxury condos.

Atlantic Yards is following the same narrative arc. The community around the Prospect Heights rail yards where Ratner would build does indeed want the area developed. Area leaders offered a sensible plan to connect Prospect Heights to Fort Greene with medium-scale housing and open space, but Gargano rejected it in favor of Manhattan skyscrapers that would overpower communities on all sides.

With a population of 15,000–18,000 living on 22 acres, Atlantic Yards would be the most-densely populated Census tract in the country.

Yet even in light of his own agency’s analysis, Gargano ignores local concern about the project’s mammoth scale. We live here — and Gargano does not. Is it too much to ask that he listen to the area’s reasonable concerns and downsize Atlantic Yards?

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