Elected officials and community groups again attacked the city, state and developer Forest City Ratner for their persistent refusal to discuss how they plan to secure the proposed Atlantic Yards basketball arena when it is slated to open in 2010.
A coalition of elected officials joined the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods on the steps of City Hall last Thursday to demand an independent security study of Atlantic Yards. The pols brandished a recent New York Times story that finally reported what many opponents of the project have long known: that the proposed glass-walled arena is only 20 feet from the street along Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
The group believes that the arena’s proximity to the street will require busy roadways to be closed on game nights — a nightmarish traffic scenario.
This concern came up earlier this year, when Newark police officials surprised many by announcing they would close off streets around that city’s new glass-walled arena, which is 25 feet from the street.
“They need to answer why they’re doing this in Newark, but not here,” said Daniel Goldstein, the spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, one of the groups that joined state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery (D–Prospect Heights), Assemblywoman Joan Millman (D–Cobble Hill), Assemblyman Jim Brennan (D–Park Slope), Councilwoman Letitia James (D–Prospect Heights), Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) and Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Cobble Hill) last Thursday.
But the Empire State Development Corporation, Bruce Ratner’s government partner in the project, says the impact of security measures will be minimal.
“We are confident we can work with the NYPD and the state’s Office of Homeland Security to ensure security ... without having to close any streets,” said ESDC spokesman A.J. Carter.
The NYPD did not respond to requests for more details about why it is confident that it will not have to adopt Newark’s strategy. The ESDC also would not get specific about security (though the agency did provide an affidavit explaining its rationale for silence, see side story).