Assemblywoman Millman Speaks Out on Atlantic Yards Project

October 18, 2005

Testimony Presented to:
Empire State Development Corporation

Submitted By:
Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly, 52nd Assembly District

Re: Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project
Draft Scope of Analysis


Thank you for the opportunity today to comment on the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project Draft Scope of Analysis for an Environmental Impact Statement. As the Assemblymember for the 52nd Assembly District, representing Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, and Park Slope, I would like to voice my objections to the overwhelming scale of the proposed development and then comment on the need of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement to fully study the potentially harmful effects this project will have on the surrounding neighborhoods in my district.

First and foremost the preliminary plan for the proposed redevelopment at the Atlantic Yards is too large. From the time of this project’s inception we have seen a plan that brought an arena to Brooklyn with some housing attached, turned into a mega development with an arena attached. Seventeen high rises and an estimated 18,000 residents dropped into the middle of a neighborhood with low scale development will not merely change the character of that neighborhood, but will overload the existing infrastructure and impact the general quality of life for my constituents.

Thus far I have yet to see a detailed and adequate plan that will address such concerns, and I am not convinced the Environmental Impact Statement will do so. We need to take a hard look at what the potential effects of this project will be, and not just in the ˝ mile radius as indicated in the Draft Scope, but within at least a 3/4 mile radius. Let us accurately look at the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our sewer capacity, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on our already crowded subways, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on police and fire personnel demands, the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on the schools, and the effect 18,000 people plus an arena will have on already overburdened postal service. These are just some of the issues that will impact the quality of life for downtown residents.

I also want to specifically ensure that the potential effect of storm water runoff flowing into certain parts of my district is addressed. The community is fighting a long battle to improve the environmental condition of the Gowanus Canal. We need to ensure that any excess storm water runoff from the proposed project is mitigated and prevented from erasing the years of hard work that went into improving the Canal.

Also, an important concern is the sharp increase in traffic that will result from the arena, commercial development, and the thousands of units of housing. The analysis needs to evaluate how to mitigate traffic in Boerum Hill and Park Slope past the ˝ mile boundary of study.

I would also like to address the recent addition of the proposed project that is located within my Assembly district. Site 5 is slated for construction located on top of or in lieu of the existing commercial structures. While I am not specifically opposed to development along Flatbush Avenue, I believe it is in excess in light of the already massive construction planned at the yards. Furthermore, I am concerned about the preservation of open space, specifically the community garden located within Site 5. The garden is a product of community cooperation and should be preserved.

Additionally I want to emphasize the need for the community to have significant input for this project as we move forward. I have signed a letter along with other elected officials requesting that the ESDC use fees from Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) to fund a community based study. The proper resources are needed in order to maximize the community’s concerns for a project of this magnitude.

Finally, I want to state my opposition to the use of eminent domain for the Atlantic Yards Redevelopment Project. The government takeover of private property should be a last resort and never implemented for private gain. This plan sets a dangerous precedent and I will not support it. Additionally, if State approval is needed to use eminent domain I will not support it, and I will ask my Assembly colleagues, including Speaker Sheldon Silver, not to support it.

While the arena and affordable housing components of this project are beneficial additions to Brooklyn, the size and magnitude of the proposed project is becoming too high a price to pay. FCRC has prided itself on being a development corporation that listens to community concerns, but I have yet to see an adequate plan for solving the potentially harmful problems that this project will create. Thank you.

Joan L. Millman
Member of Assembly