CB2 Bid to Take Over Atlantic Yards Jokingly Compared to Crimea Invasion

By Janet Upadhye and Rachel Holliday Smith  on April 11, 2014 1:42pm  | Updated on April 12, 2014 10:43am

 Atlantic Yards is a 22-acre project in Brooklyn.
Atlantic Yards is a 22-acre project in Brooklyn.
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SHoP Architects PC

FORT GREENE — There's a battle brewing in Brooklyn for control of the Atlantic Yards project, as three Community Boards ramp up a tug-of-war over the massive development that one member drew laughs by making a tongue-in-cheek comparison to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Community Board 2 members fired the opening salvo when it voted Wednesday night to redraw the district boundaries so that the entire 22-acre project falls under their domain — using a City Charter provision that allow boards to revise their boundaries every 10 years.

The mayor would have to sign off on the move.

CB 2 members say the district might lose out on affordable housing and job opportunities associated with the project, according to District Manager Rob Perris. But Perris said he warned his fellow board members that they would need consensus from the other boards before moving ahead

"I think we should have first established dialog with the other boards," Perris told DNAinfo.com New York.

Currently, CB2, which covers Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, is only encompasses the northern half of the project — which includes the Barclays Center and the affordable housing that comes with it. The southern half is divided between Community Board 6, which oversees Park Slope and Cobble Hill and Community Board 8, which oversees Prospect Heights and Crown Heights.

CB2's annexation plan did not sit well with members of Community Board 8, whose members were incensed at their board meeting Thursday night — with one member even going as far as to jokingly compare the move to Russia's recent invasion of Crimea.

"I'm sure you've all been following on the news this one political entity that wants to take some territory from another political entity,"  CB8 second vice chair Robert Witherwax said archly at a full board meeting Thursday night, according to the Atlantic Yards Report. "I could be talking about Russia, and Ukraine. But I'm actually talking about Community Board 2 and Community Board 8."

 Community Board 2 members are seizing the opportunity, provided by a City Charter that allow boards to revise their boundaries every ten years, to get the 22-acre project — that currently straddles Brooklyn's Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 — all under one roof.
Community Board 2 members are seizing the opportunity, provided by a City Charter that allow boards to revise their boundaries every ten years, to get the 22-acre project — that currently straddles Brooklyn's Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 — all under one roof.
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Community Board 2

Witherwax, whose political takeover comparison drew laughs from the audience, added that Community Board 2 was “not a good neighbor," according to Atlantic Yards Report.

When asked by phone Thursday, Community Board 6 District Manager Craig R. Hammerman told DNAinfo.com New York that the issue had also rankled members of his board, but there were no plans to take action at this time.

"Each board has its concerns and it would not make sense for us to take an individual position without a process where there could be harmony between the boards," Hammerman said.

If the move works, Community Board 2's boundary would move south one block to Dean Street from Pacific Street in order to cover the entire project, which encompasses the Barclays Center and 16 high-rise buildings and is roughly bounded by Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, Dean Street and Vanderbilt Avenue.

But the move would also mean that the Yards are under the jurisdiction of a police precinct and community board that do not coincide. The project is currently under the jurisdiction of the 78th Precinct, which serves Community Board 6 while community Board 2 is overseen primarily by the 88th Precinct.

Perris, who does not have voting rights, thinks the Yards are best served by one community board but believes that board should not necessarily be Community Board 2.

"It's not efficient to have three boards responding to the issues of one area," he said. "But my personal belief is that we should restore co-terminality [the alignment of districts with police precincts] and let boards 6 and 8 work out their border."

Although Hammerman would not say where he thought the boundaries should be, he also thinks aligning the project within a single community board which falls within a single police precinct would be positive for the Yards.

"Our primary perspective in this is that we see that the city of New York's district lines [redrawn] ... as a way to organize city services so that we can have some order in the universe," he said.

Members of Community Board 8 rejected the call to align community boards with precinct boundaries with the project because it would mean losing its portion of the Yards.

"It’s important for the Atlantic Yards to stay within Community Board 8’s jurisdiction after all we’ve been through,” said the board’s chairperson, Nizjoni Granville alluding to the years-long battle between the community and the Yards developer Forest City Ratner.

“It’s an emotional issue for me,” she said.

According to a source, board members are concerned, like CB2, that its constituents would miss out on jobs and affordable housing opportunities.

Still, Community Board 8 members are open to meeting with the two other boards to find a solution.

The Mayor's Office did not immediately respond to calls and emails for comment.

The Empire State Development Corporation, which oversees the project, and Forest City Ratner, the developer, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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