Low turnout at Ratner hearing

The Brooklyn Paper

One group of Atlantic Yards opponents boycotted, and another group of over-eager public speakers — elected officials — was otherwise detained, thanks to the Primary Election, so this week’s public hearing on the Atlantic Yards mega-development gave some real people a chance to be heard.

It was a stark contrast to the first public hearing on the project, an Aug. 23 smackdown that drew thousands, lasted until nearly midnight and was populated by windy lawmakers, loud union leaders and earnest community group officials while hundreds of regular citizens waited outside to testify on Bruce Ratner’s $4.2-billion, 16-tower, arena, hotel, office space and residential project.

The Brooklyn Papers spoke to residents who testified this week. Here are their stories:

Henry Charles Marrahan, Park Slope
Opponent

“I got a PhD in military relations and this SOB [Bruce Ratner] is railroading eminent domain. Remember Pfizer in Connecticut?

“This project is going to take our land and cost a billion dollars in cost overruns like all these stupid projects. I have seen this time and time again.”

Dwayne Sampson, Crown Heights
Supporter

“I’ve been impacted all my life by money and development coming to town. This is the first time we’ve had a chance to be at the table. If this project wasn’t happening, the skyscrapers would happen one at a time. With [Atlantic Yards] we’ve been able to sign a community benefits agreement with terms that can be enforced.”

Jon Crow, Prospect Heights
Opponent

“Ratner already plowed our garden [Brooklyn Bear Garden] once to build the Modell’s. Now he is destroying it again. Miss Brooklyn will take away our sunshine until noon every day. Whatever they build next to it will take away the late-afternoon sun. Our experts say you need 8-10 hours a day to grow vegetables. And of course, Ratner doesn’t even address the glare that’s going to come off his [Frank] Gehry monstrosities.”

Ahalia Smith, Park Slope
Supporter

“I think people who oppose this project are hypocrites. If they were truly concerned with affordable housing, why don’t they take a stand everywhere else in Brooklyn where people are being displaced?”

Grace Shannon, Clinton Hill
Opponent

“This project is going to create so much air pollution that my asthma is going to go out of control. The draft environmental impact statement shows that Atlantic Yards will create an increase in asthma among children and adults, not to mention making breathing harder from those of us who already suffer. This project is too big. There will be too many cars and it will make us deadly sick.”

Menachem Freidfertig
Supporter

“Mr. Ratner gave me a deal. He dealt with me in the most ‘erlach’ way [Yiddish for honest]. What an angel. What a mensch. I bought a garage at a public auction and it was the most amazing thing that ever happened to me when Mr. Ratner decided to buy it for this Atlantic Yards project. [His offer] was beyond my wildest expectations. I present this shofar to Mr. Ratner. He should blow it on the Nets opening day.”

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