Atlantic Yards public opinion
The project is endorsed by the MTA and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has been strongly supported by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who sees this project as the opportunity to finally produce the business district in Downtown Brooklyn that was intended with the construction of the Williamsburg Savings Bank but was halted by the Great Depression. Governor Pataki, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Congressman Edolphus Towns, Congressman Gregory W. Meeks, Congressman Anthony Weiner, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum and Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. have also supported the project as necessary for the economic development of Brooklyn and New York City.
The most vocal opposition group is a nonprofit named Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. Three of the four local elected representatives in the neighborhood also oppose the project. Other organizations that are opposed to or seek to scale back the project include: 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, Boerum Hill Association (BHA), Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID), Committee For Environmentally Sound Development, Creative Industries Coalition (80 local businesses, galleries and collectives), Democracy for New York City (DFNYC).
The Community Benefits Agreement
The October 22, 2005 edition of The Brooklyn Paper revealed that the Forest City Ratner (FCR) company had paid large sums of money to organizations, offering what they've presented as grassroots neighborhood support for the proposed Atlantic Yards development. Back on December 20, 2004, six months before the so-called "community benefits agreement" (CBA) was drafted, a non-governmental pact between the developer and community groups, the 501(c)(3) filings of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) stated it would receive $5 million from Bruce Ratner's company in exchange for support. BUILD president James Caldwell is being paid $125,000 a year, and two other BUILD executives— Mary Louis and Shalawn Langhorne— are receiving $100,000 a year, according to the IRS document. Additionally, the development company has also paid $50,000 to Reverend Herbert Daughtry, another CBA endorser. His organization, Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, is commissioned to help create an inter-generational center as part of the Ratner plan to "retain staff to begin to develop a program to create these facilities."  The political arm of BUILD, Community Leadership for Accountable Politics (CLAP), is apparently folding.
A Community Benefit Agreement, that claimed to be modeled on the first of its kind for the Staples Center in Los Angeles, was signed on June 27, 2005 between Forest City Ratner and a consortium of community groups to provide a range of benefits for the community. Many of these community groups are led by long standing and prominent leaders including Bertha Lewis, Executive Director of ACORN, James Caldwell, ED for Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development and Rev. Herbert Daughtry, pastor of House of the Lord Church. One of the controversies surrounding the CBA is the definition of "community," and many local groups contend that they will not be included. Among the benefits accruing to the community as defined under this legally binding agreement are:
- Affordable housing (for households earning up to $109,000 a year – 50% set aside with various degrees of affordability as set out in the agreement),
- 35% minority, and 10% women contractors hired during construction
- Senior housing (10% set aside of all rental units)
- Health care center within the project
- Six acres of open space for use by the public free of charge on the project site
6 acres (24,000 m2) of open space for a project this size is considered woefully inadequate by city standards. Also, it is important to note that this is not the same as public space, rather it is private space open to the public at the owner's discretion. The developer will get this space after current publicly owned streetscapes will be privatized.
Signatories to this agreement are All-Faith Council of Brooklyn, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD, Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), Downtown Brooklyn Educational Consortium (DBEC), First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee (FATHC), New York State ASssociaiton of Minority Contractors (NYSAMC), Public Housing Communities (PHC). Copies of the full CBA are available at the offices of each of these organizations.
While the Staples Center CBA included hundreds of community groups—many who did not originally support the project—the Atlantic Yards CBA signatories all supported the project before signing on. One group, BUILD, has been shown to have repeatedly lied about the funding it received from the developer. A quick review of the CBA will show that it holds almost no meaningful sanctions against the developer, yet it requires that ACORN publicly promote the project. These and other reasons have thrown considerable doubt on the document.
The known amount of total payments to CBA signatories from the developer is $538,000.
Job development in the boroughs outside of Manhattan has been part of Mayor Bloomberg's agenda and, in this case especially, has been seen as a way to stem the tide of companies leaving New York City for New Jersey and other locations. While rents in Manhattan are prohibitive for some companies, offering lower rent office space in the boroughs may be a way to keep jobs in the City and maintain the tax base that sustains municipal services. Spearheaded by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the project has received the approval of the Empire State Development Corporation.
The Development has been opposed by a variety of well established community groups in the area and by Letitia James, the New York City Council member for the district. Critics point to the lack of transparency of the project, the lack of democratic review of the process, mixed successes of Ratner's previous projects, the threat of eminent domain to remove residents for a commercial interest. 68 residential or business properties would be seized and razed under the project. Additionally, the shadows the project will impose on Fort Greene, the light pollution from the advertising that will cover the arena, the costs for terrorist insurance (the Atlantic subway station has already been an attempted terrorist target, and the Ratner proposal calls for the highest population density in North America), the incompatibility of the density and design with the existing neighborhoods, and the negative effects of increased traffic congestion on asthma rates and the Brooklyn economy. The Ratner proposal would create the highest density census tract in the United States, and it would possibly represent the highest population density in North America or Europe.
Popular liberal blog Left Behinds compared Gehry's Miss Williamsburg design to "some giant grey Transformer clomping its foot down on Park Slope. And imagine when in a few years all those pristine white beams get coated in soot from the neverending traffic jams that are projected as a direct result of this development (have you ever tried to drive through Flatbush or Atlantic during rush hour or on a weekend?). It'll be a Transformer's giant grey dirty foot. ... A well-designed development would be built on actually unused land (such as the Yards themselves) not on top of people's homes nearby. It would take into account the neighborhood character of Brooklyn as well as the technical limitations of traffic and sewage."
On February 14, 2006, New York State Supreme Court Justice Carol Edmead ruled in favor of the dismissal of attorney David Paget as the Empire State Development Corporation’s (ESDC) outside counsel. Paget, who has been advising the ESDC in its environmental review of the Altantic Yards project, had previously also worked for FCR companies until October 2005. Justice Edmead concluded that the appointment of Paget to the ESDC represented a conflict of interest, calling it "a severe, crippling appearance of impropriety." Furthermore, Justice Edmead gave the ESDC 45 days to find a new attorney to meet the standard of "objective public interest."  On May 30, 2006, the Appellate Division, First Department, reversed Justice Edmead's the decision. "The motion court misapprehended material facts and misapplied the applicable law in granting the petition to the extent of disqualifying Paget and his law firm from representing ESDC," Justice Milton Williams wrote for a unanimous panel.
An issue concerning wastewater management was brought up during a preliminary environmental impact assessment of the project, catching the attention of Carroll Gardens residents. According to the March 4, 2006 edition of The Brooklyn Paper, the sewage created from the development will flow into antiquated city-run sewer and waste treatment systems — which overload when it rains. The result, is that allegedly 27 billion US gallons (100,000,000 m3) of untreated wastewater will drain into waterways around the city each year, including 13 spigots on the Gowanus Canal. 
Lawsuit by community groups: Litigating "government purpose" as an issue of fact, using Justice Kennedy's Kelo criteria
In late October 2006 community groups filed a lawsuit in federal court against Bloomberg, Governor George Pataki, Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner and to stop the project. The plaintiffs are charging that the project would not serve public use, as required by legal tradition. The suit is being led by Matthew Brinkerhoff  The suit is 'Goldstein v. Pataki.'
The lawsuit was prompted by an open letter to the Village Voice, which appeared on the www.nolandgrab.org website. This letter stated that Justice Kennedy's Kelo concurring opinion could be used to attack eminent domain as a violation of minimum scrutiny, which says that government policy (including an eminent domain use), must be rationally related to a legitimate government purpose.
- Confessore, Nicholas (December 9, 2006). "A Nod for Atlantic Yards, and Then a Lawsuit". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
- Goldstein, Joseph (October 27, 2006). "Atlantic Yards Project Abuses Uses of Eminent Domain". The New York Sun. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (August 2010)|
- noLandGrab, an information portal on the project.
- Official website
- Build Brooklyn.org, a Ratner-funded organization.
- Times in Bruce's Corner
- DDDb's critique of BUILD
- The Real Estate Observer article on population density of the Ratner proposal.
- The Municipal Arts Society of New York, a non-profit that champions excellence in urban design.
- Fans For Fair Play
- , litigants interviewed, as on Fox News.
- Atlantic Yards Visualization in Google Earth, 3-D model of the Atlantic Yards plan in Google Earth.
- Brooklyn's Trojan Horse: What's wrong with the buildings Frank Gehry wants to put in my neighborhood?
- Life in the Footprint published in the Village Voice on Aug. 1, 2006.
- Does This Look Like Blight? from ShakinDave.com on Aug. 28, 2006.
- South Oxford Street Block Association, a local Fort Greene block association's website for residents that will live in the shadows.