Hidden Costs For Atlantic Yards
January 30th, 2007
Advocates reading the fine print in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s budget have unearthed at least one item the mayor probably would have preferred remain unnoticed: a doubling of the city subsidy for the Atlantic Yards megaproject in Brooklyn. The added funding – allegedly for infrastructure improvements (i.e. not the luxury high rises themselves) — “brings the city’s direct contribution to $205 million,” the Sun reports.
Details have been hard to come by, but Doug Turetsky of the Independent Budget Office told the Voice that the money will probably go for items “some of which might have been on the books prior to Atlantic Yards, but some substantial amount of which is likely related to the scale of the project—such as the need for expanding sewer and water capacity.” And, of course, no one knows how much the city will eventually have to ante up because of increased automobile traffic, demands for classroom space, strain on city facilities and so on that could arise from the project.
Dan Goldstein of the group Develop Don’t Destroy protested, “This doubling of the city’s taxpayer cash subsidy to $205 million for Ratner’s project is just the first blast of helium into a very large balloon of public money. There will be many more installments made to Ratner under a blank public check euphemistically called ‘extraordinary infrastructure costs.’”
And New York Magazine’s “Intelligencer” comments that the money the mayor is giving “his pal Bruce Ratner” is “more than 5 percent of New York’s overall budget surplus.” (Actually this expense is in the capital budget so it’s not exactly the same thing.) “How did the mayor avoid media hoopla over this?… funding is for ‘infrastructure improvements’ that are supposedly independent of the construction. They just happen to be, um, concurrent with it.”
And Atlantic Yards isn’t the only supposedly private project benefiting from such budgetary legerdemain. The Voice notes that “projected capital costs for land and infrastructure associated with the Yankees and Mets stadiums—previously pegged at $160 million and $98 million, respectively—are now listed as totaling $209 million and $172 million over the next several years.”By Gail Robinson on January 30, 2007, 4:21 pm
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