Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Racial Flap Continues in the Yards

AS Metro reported yesterday and Ben Smith continues today in the NY Daily News, the racial backbiting over comments made by DDD's Daniel Goldstein continues. All of this is unfortunate because it obscures the debate over the merits of the development and pollutes any reasonable discussion.

What's clear to us is that there is a damned if you do, damned if you don't, quality about the criticism that the FCRC is "buying" the black community's support. For a very long time developers in this city have plowed ahead with a "community be damned" attitude that ignored any direct attempt to provide positive support for the impacted neighborhoods.

So now Forest City directly engages the local community, promulgates a CBA-the first of its kind in NYC-and includes an affordable housing component whose percentage far exceeds the norm, and for all of its pathbreaking efforts gets demonized by opponents.The irony here is that FCRC is also being demonized by many other prominent developers in the city precisely beacuse of how it has directly partnered with the local community.

Put the AY situation into context and compare it with what went on in the Bronx with the BTM. As Metro reported yesterday Patrick Canale, a long time member of Community Board #4, is leaving the board with a bad taste in his mouth. Canale was asked to participate in the "negotiation" over a CBA for the Gateway Mall.

The so-called CBA was in reality a "Carrion Benefits Agreement." As Canale says, "He formed all the committees...We found out that it was the borough president's deal. We were just wasting time again. We were negotiating among ourselves, and he negotiated with Related himself. When it came time to the finished agreement, nobody wanted to sign."

There will always be disputes about who does or doesn't really represent the community. In Brooklyn, with Daughtry, Sharpton, Lewis, Coach Screen, Renan Ebeid from Lincoln High and Jocko Jackson from Brownsville all on the side of the Yards the grass roots support is both wide and deep. To paraphrase Justice Stewart's comment on pornography, "We may not be able to define what the community is, but we know it is when we see it."