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August 21, 2006

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Ratnerville
Congratulations to Chris Smith for capturing so well the dawning horror that Brooklynites have felt as the Atlantic Yards project has steamrollered into our borough [“Mr. Ratner’s Neighborhood,” August 14]. It’s important to note that this isn’t just a Brooklyn story. All New Yorkers are helping to subsidize this urban-planning disaster with their taxes—not to mention the public streets that are being given to the developer for free and the MTA’s acceptance of the lowest bid for a very valuable piece of property. This monument to the hubris of developer and architect will continue to suck New Yorkers’ tax dollars for decades.
—Michael Rogers, Brooklyn

I’d like to commend Smith for his thoughtful article. When I moved to New York four years ago, I temporarily rented a room just five minutes from the site in question. I’d move back to the area in a heartbeat if I could afford it. However, there is no place for someone like me in Ratner’s plans: I don’t meet the qualifications for low-income housing, and my income can’t handle full market rates. Prices for other housing in the area will soar as well. Consequently, the neighborhoods will change for the worse, and there is nothing gradual or natural about it. Unlike the “cleaning up” of other places in the city, very little of the area’s flavor will remain as local retailers are pushed out. So many others will be priced out of their history and their local culture. This isn’t the equivalent of a big-box retailer shutting down mom-and-pop shops; it’s burning down one city in the name of building a greater one—destroying a way of life for a quick dollar.
—Latrina Stokes, Brooklyn

I was surprised to find such a narrow take on Atlantic Yards from Chris Smith, especially following your visionary “2016” package [by Alexandra Lange, June 5], which focused on the broader challenge of “building a city for 9 million.” This growth means we need to start building now for the more than 300,000 of those new residents who will soon call Brooklyn home, a population the size of Buffalo or Oakland. And that’s why, in “a city that can’t sprawl,” as the “2016” introduction says, creating a new city center at Atlantic Yards with a major-league sports arena and thousands of units of affordable housing and new jobs above a mass-transit hub is right for Downtown Brooklyn. I respect Smith’s political reporting, and I understand his concerns as a resident living near Atlantic Yards—from day one, all of us have recognized the meritorious quality-of-life concerns regarding the project. Ultimately, our city must confront the reality that more residents are flocking to Brooklyn, as Smith himself did. And it is the responsibility of public officials like myself to plan for that growth today through projects like Atlantic Yards. You can call me a “booster,” but what I’m really advocating is a long-term vision that enables Brooklyn and New York City to preserve the income and ethnic diversity that define us.
—Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President

For me, the debate about Ratner’s development comes down to two things: the Atlantic Center mall and the Atlantic Terminal mall—the ugliest, strangest, most horribly designed shopping centers I have ever seen. And I grew up in New Jersey, where we take our malls seriously. Ratner had his chance to prove to Brooklyn that he could develop wisely, and we already live with the consequences of his mistakes. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could one day live in a world where our government gives money to build affordable housing and create jobs just because it’s the right thing to do (and because it’s what these people promised us in their campaign speeches) and not because someone would make a billion dollars off it?
—Kate Scelsa, Brooklyn

Correction: In “The Open-House Log” (July 31–August 7), Robert Nuzzolese was identified as managing director of the Nuzzolese Ice Company. He is, in fact, a rental agent with Mark David & Co.


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