Electeds Want Delay on M.T.A. Atlantic Yards Vote

A group of seven state and local elected officials are trying to thwart an M.T.A. board vote scheduled for Wednesday on the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project, seeking to delay the agency’s final approval for the project, which includes a new arena for the Nets in Brooklyn.

The officials’ consternation comes as the M.T.A. is expected to recommend a deal in which developer Forest City Ratner gives less upfront cash than it initially agreed to—it previously committed to $100 million, all at the closing—as well as a scaled-back rail yard the developer pledged to build.

From the letter:

We respectfully suggest that a hasty decision to modify the obligations of the developer could be detrimental to the needs of the mass transit system and that any decision should only be made after the public and elected officials have had a fair opportunity to present their views.  We therefore request that you postpone any decision on this matter and disclose the proposed details of any modification to the current agreement with Forest City Ratner to the signers of this letter and the general public.

The signatories included a number of longtime critics of the project: Assemblyman James Brennan, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Councilwoman Letitia James, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, Councilman Vincent Gentille and Councilman John Liu.

The letter comes after State Senator Bill Perkins sent a letter requesting that the M.T.A. respond to a list of questions about Atlantic Yards and a potential new deal before the vote. 

The project—which now calls only for an arena at first and has dropped architect Frank Gehry—is also scheduled to come up for review at a Tuesday board meeting of the state’s main development arm. That agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, would vote on the modified plan, then take public comment and likely would need to vote again. An ESDC spokesman said the agency’s position is that the project does not need to gain approval from the Public Authorities Control Board again.

Update 4:12 p.m.

The M.T.A. will actually first address the new deal Monday before the board’s finance committee, according to agency spokesman Jeremy Soffin. In an e-mail, he said, should the agreement be finalized over the weekend, it would go before the committee as “an informational item,” before a “potential vote on Wednesday.” 

The letter is below.

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