Monday, December 19, 2005

Total Exposure

In all of our lengthy experience dealing with land-use issues we have never come across a more detailed exposure of the perfidy of an elected official than the one contained in a letter sent by Bronx Community Board #4 member Lukas Herbert to Bronx BP Adolfo Carrion. It is without a doubt a withering critique of the BP's effort to hot-wire the review process in the Yankee Stadium development project.

Herbert, who like Carrion is an urban planner, attacks the ULURP public hearing conducted at the BP's office on December 12th as an "embarrassment" not only to the office of the Borough President but to a community that clearly doesn't want this development. Herbert saves some of his best scorn for the orchestrated "circus-like sham" of chanting building trades workers who, because they lived outside the community, were bused in for the occasion.

The "We want Jobs" chants will always be a compelling issue but are clearly not germane to a ULURP application. As Herbert passionately observes, "Instead of packing the house with building trades should have provided more time to listen to the community..." All of which highlights what's wrong with how large projects like this are reviewed-and the inadequacy of a ULURP process that is putatively designed to review them. This is true even where there is an honest attempt to provide meaningful review, something that isn't remotely present in the case of Yankee Stadium.

The stage-managed BP hearing, conducted after Carrion was embarrassed by a 16-8 defeat at Board#4, stands in sharp contrast to the care and due diligence done by Mr. Herbert and his community board. Here's the money quote:

As a member of the Community Board, I spent countless hours reviewing the documents involved with the ULURP review that I was responsible for. I used my expertise as an urban planner to provide an analysis for the rest of the Board on the land use and other impacts of the project. I analyzed the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) and other documents before I reached a decision. When it came time to hold our hearing, we let everyone speak...I cannot speak for everyone on my Board but I can tell you that I based my decision to reject this project on a careful review of the impacts, and by carefully listening to the testimony of all the hardworking folks who came to our hearing.
Herbert's letter, which goes on at length about the issues of due process and fairness, land use and planning issues, parking and job creation, should embarrass everyone responsible for the BP's show trial. But then again maybe Yankee president Randy Levine is right and the only ones against this parkland theft are "professional protesters". Somehow we don't think so.