Long-time Brooklyn resident and pastry chef Erica Kalick stood in the dining room of Clem Labine’s Park Slope townhouse on Sunday afternoon and discussed two very different topics: the rugalach that she had made for the party and the ongoing fight against the Atlantic Yards project. Her feelings on the latter were hopeful, albeit worried.
“God forbid that this thing goes through, I will know that I took steps toward protecting my community,” Ms. Kalick told The Observer. “I am frightened, but I am trying to be fearless.”
Approximately 80 people, largely aging baby boomers decked out in khakis and short-sleeved polo shirts, had paid $60 each to enter Mr. Labine’s house to raise money for the lawsuits that activist group Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn has filed against developer Forest City Ratner and others.
As the gin flowed and attendees admired Mr. Labine’s many works of art, a growing feeling of fear was beginning to replace the years of hope.
“Things don’t seem to be going very well,” neighborhood resident Lester Bower said as he headed for the food table. “The court cases don’t seem to be going our way.”
Even the $5,000 that had been raised over the course of the afternoon seemed like a drop in the bucket to some.
“Its good to see so many people here,” a partygoer noted. “But 80 times 60 doesn’t amount to that many lawyer hours.”
Halfway through the party, Mr. Labine and Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein stood on a few living-room chairs and did their best to pump up the somber mood.
“Atlantic Yards is not a done deal!” Mr. Labine said to rousing applause. “What is unfortunate is that not enough people are aware of the problems that will come with this project.”
“Do we have any allies left in elected officials?” a member of the audience inquired.
“We have a few,” Mr. Goldstein responded. “[City Councilman] David Yassky, depending on what day you talk to him.”
Some good news came at the end of the presentation, though. A volunteer announced that an anonymous donation had brought the amount raised during the afternoon to over $20,000. Wide eyes and smiles replaced the dejected looks on faces in the audience.
After the presentation, attendees meandered back to the cheese plates and pound cake.
Donna Henes, a Brooklyn resident who was instrumental in the borough’s fight against the MetroTech expansion decades ago, reflected on the similarities of the two situations as she decided what to eat.
“We fought that in court for five years and lost,” Ms. Henes said. “I hope the outcome this time is different.”