In the mailbag: A warning from bar-goers and a slam from the mayor

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To the editor,

Freddy’s Bar is officially in revolt against New York State’s Eminent Domain Law (“Off with his head! Freddy’s Bar unveils guillotine to slay ‘Eminent Domain,” online, Dec. 27). When the time comes for the bar to be evicted, patrons will cuff themselves to the “Chains of Justice” that Freddy’s manager Donald O’Finn has installed on the bar.

The sheriff will soon be sent in to physically remove the patrons so that the bar may be taken to make room for the Barclays Center, but we have put the state on notice that people come ahead of the banks, and we will not allow the Barclays Center to replace our corner of Prospect Heights.

Why are we announcing that we will break the law? Why are we arranging buses for eminent domain haters from around the country to join us for the inevitable standoff?

The reason comes from former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who said that the High Court’s 2005 Kelo decision would result in tremendous advantages for the powerful and well connected, and tremendous disadvantages for the regular folks. Kelo was the real-estate royalty’s dream. In one decision, the Supreme Court gave developers a license to steal — or, rather, to have the state steal for them.

Ratner spent more than $600,000 in lobbying and political contributions. And in his Yonkers project, there have been indictments involving bribes. So we know the guy is spending on politics. That’s the kind of person O’Connor was talking about.

If the state needed our bar because it is building a hospital, or a firehouse, or a road, OK. We wouldn’t be happy, but we would abide by the law. But the current law allows the Ratners of this world to mail order other people’s real-estate from the government catalog!

We will win the fight on the day of the great siege of Freddy’s Bar. Why? Because people like bars. And people hate banks.

So join us.

For those of you who say there are good things about the Atlantic Yards project, we say, yeah, jobs are good, sports are good. We all want the good things. But can’t we get the good things without stealing to get them?

Steve deSeve, Brooklyn Heights

• • •

To the editor,

The impending street closures in Prospect Heights are not only premature, but they are being imposed with inadequate notice to the community (“Block buster! State preps road demapping around Atlantic Yards arena,” Jan. 15).

These plans were devised by the developer’s chosen consultant, handed to the Department of Transportation, and issued to the public with two weeks’ notice. There has been no opportunity for the community to comment on these plans, or suggest changes. While that is typical of the way this project has proceeded, it is not typical of the way the city has operated in recent years, and it is a disturbing return to autocratic form.

Viable alternatives, ameliorations, and offsets for these changes have been suggested. Furthermore, the combination of the magnitude of these changes and their inadequate publicity will lead to a traffic calamity in Prospect Heights — accidents will happen, people will get hurt or worse.

Finally, I question the necessity of closing Pacific Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues at this time. Since no construction will occur there for some time, why now? Is this to give more room for the extensive surface parking lots, soon to make Prospect Heights the doormat for Long Islanders who can’t be bothered to take the LIRR?

Robert Witherwax, Prospect Heights

The Paper is wrong

To the editor,

I’d like to respond people calling the city position of supporting Superfund designation at the Newtown Creek while opposing it for the Gowanus Canal as “contradict­ory.”

Your recent editorial (“Superfund hypocrisy,” editorial, Jan. 15) asked, “If Superfund is good enough for the Newtown Creek, Mr. Mayor, why isn’t it good enough for the Gowanus Canal?” and described the city position as “bureaucratic balderdash.”

I would pose this question: If you needed to get from New York to London as quickly possible this week, and you had the option of taking a plane or a boat, you would take the plane. If the following week, you needed to make the same trip, as quickly as possible, and you could not take the plane, you would still take the boat because it would be the best available way to get there. Is that a contradictory position because you declined to take the boat in the first week, but took it in the second week?

The point is, we don’t have a viable, better option at Newtown Creek, so we are supporting Superfund — the only available way to get to a clean waterway.

Also, the editorial argued that “the mayor’s office says that the conditions in both waterways are different.” We did not say that.

We never said the type of pollution is different or the condition of the water is different in the waterways. We said the situation is different, referring to the Army Corps of Engineers being committed to working in one place (the Gowanus) and not the other.

We also have a group of willing parties that can pay for the clean-up in one place (the Gowanus) and not the other.

Marc LaVorgna, City Hall

The writer is a mayoral spokesman.

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Reader Feedback

Mike from FG says:
Can't wait to see them get dragged out of that dump of an area.
Jan. 20, 2010, 8:04 pm
Eric McClure from Park Slope says:
If it were the MAYOR having to get from New York to London, he'd take his PRIVATE plane, thus generating an excess of carbon emissions while hollowly claims the cloak of environmentalist.

The Mayor's plan for cleaning the Gowanus is not a "viable, better option" than Superfund -- it's a plan that puts the interests of private real estate developers before the health and well-being of the canal, its wildlife, and, most egregiously, its human neighbors.

The Mayor's plan is not a plan at all -- it's politics.
Jan. 20, 2010, 11:03 pm
Arthur from Bay Ridge says:
With all due respect Mr. LaVorgna, you don't even begin to address people's concerns that there are alterior motives behind the private funding of the Gowanas Canal's cleanup.
As the city goverment has allowed the canal to exist as an eco-hazzard without any kind of visible progress for the past 90 years or so, you're credebility on the issue is quite low.

Can you give people one good reason to trust that what you say is true, and what kind of proof can you offer that this is not all just a sham for the purpose of tax breaks and development deals?

I, and many others, believe that this all a terribly constructed ruse - one which no one is fooled by.

Please do your job and your duty to the people of new york and look at the mayor's plan critically. I can assure that we are.
Jan. 21, 2010, 9:08 am
Paul from Park Slope says:
I love how all the Mayor's puppet boys try to defend their nonsense "plan" for cleaning the Gowanus Canal by starting with "Suppose..." Honestly Chaz Halloway must have used that word about 40 times in trying to explain the Mayor's "plan," blushing scarlet with every whopper lie. (And the Mayor recently put this clearly unqualified puppet in charge of the city's Department of Environmental Protection!)

Suppose you stop the crap and admit your plan is unsupportable BS designed to let Toll Brothers go ahead with an environmentally disastrous plan.

Suppose that pigs have wings. All the Supposes are worth about the same, Mr. Mayor.
Jan. 21, 2010, 11:12 am
Brooklyn from Gowanus says:
In response to Marc LaVorgna, of City Hall.

We have not yet seen any "viable" alternative to Superfund to clean the Gowanus Canal. The city has put out a public relations campaign that they have labeled an alternative to a Superfund Cleanup. But as a PR program, it lacks any legal authority to insure that responsible parties actually pay for the work to be done; it lacks a funding source that would allow the work to begin and proceed in a timely manor; it lacks experience in remediation of urban waterways; it lacks a dedacated agency to oversee the work over the lang hall and through administration changes; in short it is not an actual working plan. How could it be, it was spawned as a PR campaign to discredit the EPA?

The heart of the city's plan is to derail the Superfund Cleanup of the canal.

The city had every intention to rezone the canal, not address the contaminated waterway, claim that the cleanup was going forward as of new developments drove their piles into the banks of the water, and hope that no one would notice the black goo burping up from the bottom of the canal after the over-scaled apartment complexes became occupied.

The citizens of this city don't need any more of the city's version of a cleanup plan for the Gowanus, we need to allow the professionals with the startup funds and real legal authority to run the job -- we need the EPA Superfund.

The city should stop pretending that they have any kind of a cleanup up plan that could match the work that the EPA is capable of bringing to this problem.
Jan. 21, 2010, 4:06 pm
Larry Hochfeld from Boro Park says:
As a former Bo0ro Parkite who is retired now and living in South Florida with hundreds of bor parkites, where is the news about my beloved and changed community. I lived on 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues.
Jan. 22, 2010, 3:13 pm

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