March 11th, 2010 — By — In News & Events

Ground breaking set for today on Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn; Residents expected to vacate by April 3

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A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled to take place this afternoon for Developer Forest City Ratner’s controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.  News sources have indicted that local and state officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Patterson, are expected to attend.   The ceremonial shovel event will mark the beginning of construction of the planned mulit-billion dollar Barclay’s Center arena intended for the New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn?) Nets Basketball team.

Some project opponents have planned a ceremonial “Groundbreaking to Bury the Soul of Brooklyn”  and protest to take place in front of the historic Freddy’s Bar located within the project footprint.  Freddy’s is one of many businesses, individuals and families expected to vacate pursuant to the March 1 ruling by NY State Supreme Court Judge Abraham Gerges which held that the 14 claims asserted by opponents of the eminent domain taking — ranging from the legality of the modification of the project over the summer to even the state’s failure to use the words “public use” in a section over why the land is being condemned in the first place — had no “merit.”  (See The Brooklyn Paper and NY Daily News.)

Since Judge Gerges ruling, the residents and businesses remaining in the project footprint have received notifications from the ESDC Condemnation Counsel, Charles Webb, informing them that “ESDC requires you to relocate by April 3, 2010 (thirty days after the date of this letter) so that development plans for the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project… may proceed.”

Michael Rikon (OCA New York Member) responded on behalf of Goldstein and other footprint property owners, calling Webb’s letter “an attempt to intimidate our clients”:

First, you have absolutely no right to inform anyone that they must vacate by April 3, 2010. You must understand that condemnees have the protection of New York’s Eminent Domain Procedure Law. You cannot even suggest a vacate date until you comply with the requirements of the law.

The law requires a notice of acquisition and a good faith advance payment at which time a date to vacate would be set by the court.

(See Atlantic Yards Report post here for additional details regarding the ESDC’s correspondence and copies of Webb’s letter to Resident Daniel Goldstein and the letter written in response by Goldstein’s attorney Mike Rikon).

More regarding the groundbreaking ceremonies scheduled for today is available in the NY Daily News and The Brooklyn Paper.  Also, CUNY Grad School of Journalism and The New York Times blog, The Local, will be covering the ceremony and posting simultaneously this afternoon.

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