Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Support for Atlantic Yards

In today's NY Daily News, Errol Louis takes a shot against a group of Brooklyn celebrity notables who've added their names to a "Develop-Don't Destroy" advisory board. DDD is the leading opponent of the Atlantic Yards project. Heath Ledger's wife Michelle Williams is singled out by Errol for her lament that "Heath and I moved to Brooklyn for light and space and air."

There are a number of legitimate reasons to oppose the development, foremost among them is the use of eminent domain to oust long time homeowners. There are, however, even more compelling reasons to support the project, a development that will create 7,000 units of housing and thousands of part time and full time jobs.

From the Alliance's perspective the most salient reason to join hands with FCRC, Build and Acorn is the bringing of the Nets to Brooklyn with a brand new arena. When the Alliance's Richard Lipsky was an up and comer plying his basketball wares all over the city, Brooklyn was a mecca for all BBall pilgrims. It still is, and the love for the game is beyond what even we would have imagined when we first began to evaluate the AY proposal.

The Brooklyn Nets are going to galvanize the entire borough and the team and its ownership is going to play a major role in working along with the youth leaders of Brooklyn in their tireless and unacknowledged efforts on behalf of the kids. That is why the support has been so unequivocal from these community folks.

All over Brooklyn the support has come in for the newly created Brooklyn Sports Alliance. Leaders such as Carlton Screen from the Flatbush Youth Association, Joe Murphy from the Brooklyn Saints, Rich Kosik from Books-N-Ball, Jocko Jackson from the Brownsville Recreation Center, Jim Dolan from the Police Athletic League and Reginald Murray from the Brooklyn Rams-just to name a few- have already donated their time and energies to helping get the BSA started.

They know a good thing for the young people of Brooklyn because many of them have devoted their time and efforts to the kids for the better part of three decades. They are being joined by the coaches of Brooklyn. Already the BSA has had over forty coaches and athletic directors pledge their support and cooperation. People such as Coach Rock Eisenberg of Tilden, AD Renan Ebeid of Lincoln, Coach Saunders of Banneker, Coach Seltzberg of Grady, Coach Nash of Bishop Ford and Coach Shavon Glover, one of the leaders of girls basketball in the PSAL, have rolled up their sleeves to work with and advise the BSA on how best to help the youth athletic efforts in Brooklyn.

As we have said, the BSA is not just about generating support for AY. It is about forging a long term relationship between the Nets and the kids of Brooklyn with the goal of using sports to promote, in Rich Kosik's phrase, a "game plan for life." Sports can be a positive influence on the development of healthy and decent young people. This is especially true when the activities are guided by strong, morally upright community leaders. In the end their can be no better example of sustainable development than this.