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Civic Groups Ask DOT, State for Veto on Atlantic Yards Traffic Plan

Say agencies overseeing project should refuse to open arena until residents have real input on plan to mitigate car onslaught.

Atlantic Yards-area civic leaders asked state and city agencies to give them veto power over Forest City Ratner’s plan to help reduce the traffic onslaught when .

The request came after area community groups were invited by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office to participate in an Atlantic Yards “transportation working group.”

Block association presidents and other neighborhood leaders duly reported to Brooklyn Borough Hall last night for an organizational meeting. But several made it clear that they didn’t want to participate if their recommendations went unheeded.

“Are we going to have meaningful input or are we just going to be reacting to the plan that Forest City Ratner puts out?” said Sandy Balboza, president of the Atlantic Avenue Betterment Association.

“I would be afraid that a subcommittee would just sort of float off into the ether and they would just sort of get rid of us,” agreed Ede Fox, a member of Prospect and Crown Height’s Community Board 8

After about 30 minutes of participants asking in various ways whether the working group would do any good, Gib Veconi, treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, suggested (to applause from many participants) that the city’s Department of Transportation and the state’s Empire State Development Corporation promise not to approve Forest City Ratner’s transportation plan unless the working group approves it. Without ESDC and DOT approval, the arena cannot open.

Arana Hankin, who oversees the Atlantic Yards Project for the ESDC said she would give an answer in two weeks. The DOT’s Chris Hrones declined to comment on whether the DOT would consider the request.

After the meeting, Rob Perris, district manager of Fort Greene’s Community Board 2, said  having final approval isn’t the same as working with Forest City Ratner to create the plan. 

Peter Krashes, PHNDC’s secretary and president of the Dean Street Block Association, said he would “wait and see.”

“You want to give them the opportunity for this to work out, and I hope it works out,” he said. “But the history of Atlantic Yards is that community input has been almost always excluded.”

At the meeting, participants also said they were shocked that 10 months out, FCR still hadn't presented the Transportation Demand Mitigation Plan and Councilwoman Letitia James asked the ESDC to require Forest City Ratner to present the plan by mid-February. 

During discussion, Hankin also listed some of the traffic control measures FCR was planning, which include working with the MTA to schedule additional subway service on game nights, running shuttle busses to parking garages more than .5 miles away and giving away free metrocards when people buy game tickets online. 

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