Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams: We Hate Ratnerville!

heathandmichelle Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams: We Hate Ratnerville!
Lights! Camera! Activism!

A coterie of Brooklyn celebrities has aligned itself against Bruce Ratner’s plan for a Nets stadium and surrounding development in Prospect Heights.

The group includes Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Krauss, Peter Galassi, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Lethem and Rosie Perez. They and others, a press release last night announced, have joined an advisory board for Develop, Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the group that has been vocally opposing the stadium and related plans.

“To my mind Ratner’s plan does not respect what is unique, inherent and crucial to Brooklyn’s landscape and history. The ‘Atlantic Yards’ proposal is completely out of character with the existing scale and mocks Brooklyn’s beautiful diverse cultures. His vision will increase traffic, pollution and asthma. My husband Heath and I moved to Brooklyn for light and space and air. If Mr. Ratner lived here he would understand what we love about it and why we want to preserve our open skies.”
- Michelle Williams, Actor

The rest of the list? After the jump.

- Tom McGeveran

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn
Contact: Daniel Goldstein, DDDB. XXX-XXX-XXXX

For Immediate Release: May 8, 2006

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn
Announces Formation of Advisory Board
Prominent Brooklynites Including Rosie Perez, Steve Buscemi,
Jonathan Lethem, Heath Ledger, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Salle,
Dan Zanes, Nelson George, Congressman Major Owens and
Supreme Court Eminent Domain Lead Plaintiff Susette Kelo
Join the Fight Against Bruce Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” Behemoth and
For Sensible, Democratic Development

BROOKLYN, NY – Question: What do Brooklyn residents such as author Jonathan Lethem (Fortress of Solitude), actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi (Fargo, The Sopranos), actors Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain), actor Rosie Perez (Do the Right Thing, Lackawanna Blues), artist David Salle, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri (Interpreter of Maladies and The Namesake), musician Dan Zanes, filmmaker and critic Nelson George (Everyday People), author Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated), activist and radio personality Bob Law, and Congressman Major Owens know about Bruce Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” development proposal that has compelled them to lend their names and support to the fight against it-and for democratic, sensible, sustainable, and community-based development?

Answer: That “Atlantic Yards”, the largest single-source development proposal in the history of New York City, would cost taxpayers at least $1.6 billion; with 16 high-rise towers and a 20,000 seat sports arena the project is wholly out of scale and character with the historic, low-rise residential communities that surround it; has no local legislative oversight or genuine community input; would create a traffic nightmare at Brooklyn’s crossroads of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues; relies on an unconstitutional use and abuse of eminent domain; and places the greed and profit of one wealthy developer above the real needs of the communities it would effect.

After more than two years of advocating for community-based planning’ accountable and transparent processes, sustainable and contextual development, and fighting against Forest City Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” proposal, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) today announced the formation of its Advisory Board. The board is comprised of 33 prominent individuals-predominantly New Yorkers and Brooklynites-from diverse fields and areas of expertise, including the heroic lead plaintiff in the lightning-rod Supreme Court eminent domain case, Susette Kelo.

The Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn Advisory Board members are:

Mr. Pheeroan akLaff – Musician
Ms. Jo Andres – Artist
Mr. Marshall Brown – Professor of Architecture
Mr. Steve Buscemi – Actor, Filmmaker
Reverend Dennis Dillon – Chief Executive Minister, The Brooklyn Christian Center
Reverend David Dyson – Pastor, Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church
Ms. Jennifer Egan – Author and Journalist
Mr. Sean Elder – Professor and Journalist
Mr. Jonathan Safran Foer – Author
Ms. Marian Fontana – Author and Activist
Dr. Mindy Fullilove – Author and Professor
Mr. Peter Galassi – Museum Curator
Mr. Nelson George – Writer, Filmmaker and Cultural Critic
Ms. Christabel Gough – Preservationist
Ms. Sheri Holman – Author
Ms. Susette Kelo – Homeowner, Lead Plaintiff in Kelo v. City of New London
Ms. Nicole Krauss – Author
Mr. Clem Labine – Entrepreneur and Preservationist
Ms. Jhumpa Lahiri – Author
Mr. Bob Law – Entrepreneur and Community Activist
Mr. Heath Ledger – Actor
Mr. Jonathan Lethem – Author
Mr. Francis Morrone – Author and Literary Historian
Ms. Peggy Northrop – Editor, More Magazine
Ms. Evelyn Ortner – Preservationist
The Honorable Major Owens – United States Congressman
Ms. Rosie Perez – Actor
Mr. David Salle – Artist
Mr. Robert Sullivan – Author
Ms. Michelle Williams – Actor
Ms. Martha Wilson – Artist and Founding Director, Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.
Mr. Dan Zanes – Musician
Mr. David Zirin – Sports Commentator

DDDB spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, “Ratner’s ‘Atlantic Yards’ proposal is the largest single-source development proposal in the history of New York City. Such a massive scheme, with its multitude of controversies, enormous public cost, potential impacts and ramifications, deserves much greater scrutiny from our elected representatives, from the press, and from the public. The astounding diversity and prominence of the members of our Advisory Board is conclusive evidence of deeply important issues at stake and of the strength and breadth of the opposition to Ratner’s undemocratic, destructive and costly plan. Mr. Ratner and his political supporters wish to marginalize us, but with the formation of our Board it is clear that the opposition is bigger and stronger than ever.”

“Our DDDB Advisory Board members were recruited because they predominantly hail from or reside now in Brooklyn. They respect and appreciate the Brooklyn that we do, and have chosen to join with us and the community so that our collective voices resonate even more clearly in the cacophony,” said DDDB President Eric Reschke.

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“We are very concerned about the scale and scope of Ratner’s ‘Atlantic Yards’ proposal. The lack of transparency, the absence of genuine community input, and the bypassing of political oversight is very troubling. We are proud to join and support the work of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn in the struggle they are leading to protect our communities from proposed overdevelopment and in their advocacy for sensible, community-friendly development that can work for all of us.”
- Jo Andres, Artist and Steve Buscemi, Actor and Filmmaker

“Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Dan Doctoroff is our new Robert Moses, the unelected destroyer of neighborhoods, the man who gets his way through eminent domain and public authorities. But who is our new Jane Jacobs? Will it be citizen groups like Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn?”
- Christabel Gough, Preservationist

“To my mind Ratner’s plan does not respect what is unique, inherent and crucial to Brooklyn’s landscape and history. The ‘Atlantic Yards’ proposal is completely out of character with the existing scale and mocks Brooklyn’s beautiful diverse cultures. His vision will increase traffic, pollution and asthma. My husband Heath and I moved to Brooklyn for light and space and air. If Mr. Ratner lived here he would understand what we love about it and why we want to preserve our open skies.”
- Michelle Williams, Actor

“As a firefighter widow, we cannot overlook the myriad issues concerning the safety and security of the Ratner project. Not only have skyscrapers been proven unsafe, but terrorism preparedness is a key issue the development review process has not addressed. In the past two years, numerous firehouses have been closed in the area surrounding the ‘Atlantic Yards’ site, increasing response times and overwhelming an already depleted fire department.”
- Marian Fontana, Author and Activist

“Ratner’s plan doesn’t belong in Fort Greene. It suffers from gigantism and would cast a long shadow over our community. This is a vibrant, historic neighborhood that has been steadily growing and improving from within; the last thing it needs is to be so radically altered in the name of development.”
- Jhumpa Lahiri, Author

“I’ve lived in Fort Greene over twenty years and seen it pull itself up out of the hole red-lining banks and crack dealers put the neighborhood in. It has grown and matured into one of the most attractive communities in the city. The ‘Atlantic Yards’ development would not only destroy Fort Greene’s progress, but put a big, sun-blocking, traffic-clogging, subway station-taxing boondoggle amid the beauty of brownstone Brooklyn. It won’t benefit the current residents or enhance the quality of life in the area. This is a Trump-sized mistake in a borough that doesn’t need or deserve ‘development’ like this.”
- Nelson George, Writer, Filmmaker & Cultural Critic.

“The fact that this proposal has proceeded as far as it has without adequate public debate or vote is just an obscene abuse of power.”
- David Salle, Artist

“I have signed on to help in the efforts of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn to fight Forest City Ratner’s over-development plan for the ‘Atlantic Yards’ project in Brooklyn. The project is an urban planning disaster and should be stopped in its tracks. For the longest time I wasn’t paying enough attention to this situation. I thought that it was far enough away from my house that it wouldn’t affect me to any great degree. I thought that it was inevitable. I was completely wrong on both counts!! This is a critical time for those of us who live in Brooklyn to become engaged. Sixteen skyscrapers and a sports arena is more than our communities can handle, but this plan can be defeated!”
- Dan Zanes, Children’s and Family Musician, International Pop Star

“Sports is supposed to be most fundamentally about fair play. The Ratner stadium ploy is not fair play for the people of Brooklyn, but a battle of power and money against the will of a proud people. Whatever side wins will say a great deal about the future of Brooklyn and the entire city of New York.”
- Dave Zirin, Sports Commentator

“Development that is out-of-scale, conceived without public input, and built for the well-to-do threatens the health and well-being of the neighborhood and the city. The Atlantic Yards development is such a project. We must go back to the drawing boards in order to protect the citizens of New York.”
- Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Author and Professor

“The work and mission of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn is truly commendable and worthy of support and validation. Where injustices exist, the voices of reason and “rightness” must seek to rise above the chatter. DDDB is one such voice that shouts with clarity and the kind of integrity and potency that must drown the billowing public relations noises of a developer and government leaders dead set on misleading our community, distorting objections and derailing the very keen government system established to embrace equitable development.”
- Reverend Dennis Dillon, Chief Executive Minister, The Brooklyn Christian Center

“New development at the Atlantic Yards must serve the people and culture that have made downtown Brooklyn the world-class location that it is today. Instead of selling out for short-term profit, development at the Atlantic Yards should be an investment for the long term.”
- Marshall Brown, Architecture Professor and Lead Architect on the UNITY Community Development Plan

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Children’s/family music icon Dan Zanes, in a rare Brooklyn performance, will headline a benefit concert for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn on June 3rd, at 11 AM, at Hanson Place Central United Methodist Church, 144 St. Felix Street at Hanson Place, Brooklyn. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.dddb.net and can be bought on the day of the event. Tickets: $12 for children (13 and under), $15 for adults. All ages welcome, babies in arms enter free. Doors will open at 10:15 AM.

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DEVELOP DON’T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition
advocating for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them.
We oppose Forest City Ratner’s “Atlantic Yards” proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.
http://www.developdontdestroy.org

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