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20 Foot Ratner Arena Setback is a Security Flaw
Late Wednesday afternoon in a post on its City Room blog strangely headlind "Putting
the Atlantic Yards Arena in a Secure Place," the NY
revealed that Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards arena would be setback
only 20 feet from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
This short distance was misreported two weeks ago (as
we pointed out and as in clear in renderings)
in an article
in the Times's print newspaper which stated definitively, but incorrectly,
that Ratner's arena would be setback 75 feet from Atlantic Avenue and 150 feet
from Flatbush Avenue.
Today the Times published a version of the story in its print edition,
Brooklyn Arena and the Street: What’s the Right Distance?"
Why does the 20 foot setback of the arena from the two major arteries of
Atlantic and Flatbush matter? Because in mid-October, two weeks before the grand-opening
of Newark's new Prudential Center arena, Newark police officials realized that
the new arena was too close to the streets abutting it, and those streets would
have to be closed
during arena events for terrorism protection. "You can't construct
an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world,"
Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy told the Star Ledger.
The streets in Newark are about 25 feet from the arena.
What does the NYPD have to say about the key question: How is Brooklyn different
than Newark? Well, it's a secret, says
...That is the same distance as the arena in Newark. This new information
prompted another question: What makes the Atlantic Yards arena sufficiently
different from the Newark arena that it will not require street closings?
That, Mr. Riegelhaupt said, was a security question to be directed to the Police
Department. The Police Department has said that it does not comment on such
matters. The department’s security analysis, which found that the arena
was safe and streets need not be closed on game days, would stand.
That is wrong. The security analysis cannot stand as is, without independent
study of the NYPD's decisions on this issue, which are still be made in a box.
Why did it take the passage of nearly one year since the project's political
approval for Ratner to reveal that his arena is too close to the street? Why
was this not revealed in the Environmental Impact Statement? Did the NYPD and
Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) know about these insufficient setbacks
when their Board approved the proposal in December 2006? If they did know, why
have they been so grossly irresponsible to the public by hiding it? And if they
didn't know until reading the Times' article, why have they been so
grossly irresponsible to the public and what are they going to do about it now
that it has been revealed? Is it possible that the ESDC's official line in the
Environmental Impact Statement—that a terrorist bomb attack is "not
a reasonable worst case scenario" worthy of analysis—was based upon
no knowledge of the inadequate distance between the arena and the streets?
Are Albany, Spitzer, the ESDC, and the Bloomberg Administration so in thrall
to Forest City Ratner that they would ignore what any independent security expert
would tell us, which is that: It's a security flaw and problem to have a glass-walled
arena, 20 feet from major streets, surrounded by glass-walled skysrapers.
As the eight elected
officials wrote to Spitzer and Bloomberg nearly one month ago, there needs
to be an independent security study of the Atlantic Yards project.
With this newly revealed information it's time for Governor Spitzer and Mayor
Bloomberg to stop ignoring the situation, and at the very least, answer this
question: the Ratner arena is 20 feet from the streets, the Newark arena is
25 feet from the streets and they are closing the streets, yet the NYPD says
they don't plan on closing streets abutting Ratner's arena. How, exactly, is
the situation in Brooklyn different than that in Newark?
Not to answer this question would be grossly irresponsible.
Some clarifications are needed for this passage in the Times
...Lately, months after the project near Downtown Brooklyn was approved
and preliminary site work began, another question has arisen: How far will the
project’s basketball arena be from the street?
The request and concern for basic answers to basic questions regarding Atlantic
Yards and security, including street setbacks, have been asked by project opponents
and critics for years. On July 6, 2005 DDDB issued a white paper, which raised
this issue and many others, headlined: "Terrorism,
Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development
Project." The questions are not new. What's new is that finally
someone has answered one of the questions and a newspaper has reported it.
The arena’s precise location matters because elected officials and opponents
of the $4 billion project have raised questions about security at the site based
on how far the arena is set back from the roadway. In Newark, where a new arena
recently opened, the city decided at the last minute that at 20 feet from the
curb, the arena was too close to the street for comfort, so now Newark closes
streets around its arena during events as a precaution against truck-driving
The critics characterized any street closings in Brooklyn as potentially disastrous.
This is because the arena is set to be built at the intersection of two of Brooklyn’s
main arteries, Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, an area that is already a congestion
choke-point even before a single brick has been laid for the project. Atlantic
Yards is slated to include more than 6,000 apartments and a few million square
feet of commercial space, in addition to the 18,000-seat arena...
It is not only critics who characterized closing Atlantic and Flatbush as "disastrous."
Anyone with eyes, who can see the current choke point that intersection is, would
know that closing the streets would be a traffic nightmare--a traffic impossibility.