State legislators want to take oversight of Atlantic Yards away from a development agency controlled by the governor’s appointees and give it to … a new agency controlled only slightly less by the governor’s appointees.
The bill, drafted by Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries (D-Fort Greene) and James Brennan (D-Park Slope), would replace the Empire State Development Corporation’s ongoing oversight of Bruce Ratner’s approved mega-development and hand it over to a new, 15-member panel.
It’s unclear whether the new body would have any real power to alter the $4-billion development, as Gov. Paterson, who supports the project, would have seven appointees.
Of the remaining seven voting members of the panel, two would be appointed by Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno (who supports the project), two would be appointed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (who supports the project), two would be appointed by Mayor Bloomberg (who supports the project), and one would be appointed by Borough President Markowitz (who really, really supports the project).
A remaining non-voting member of the panel would be appointed by community leaders. Nonetheless, Jeffries said the new trust would be a breakthrough for community involvement in what has been a closed-door, state-run process.
“The Trust will permit … a greater involvement of elected officials as opposed to simply concentrating power with the executive branch,” he said.
Ratner has still not closed some state financing deals to begin construction of his stalled project, and Jeffries said the new Trust would ensure that those deals are done properly.
The CEO of Bruce Ratner’s parent company, Forest City Enterprises, has said that the company would likely seek additional public subsidies — a move that the new Trust could, in theory, block.
“I have no doubt Forest City Ratner is going to try and come in and reopen this deal,” said Councilman Yassky, who supports the Jeffries-Brennan bill (even though he and Brennan are rivals for the comptroller seat next year). “We need the government entity that’s supposed to be representing the people … not just the ESDC.”