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January 12, 2008
Nets arena wins again in court
A New York state judge yesterday dismissed a lawsuit charging that the environmental impact statement for a planned Nets arena development in Brooklyn was insufficient. It was the second court loss for community groups opposing the Atlantic Yards project, following the rejection of a suit against the seizure of private buildings by eminent domain last June; the plaintiffs have already appealed in that case, and plan to do so as well in the latest one.
So far, there's been little activity at the site aside from the demolition of a handful of buildings, though construction was initially supposed to begin in late 2006. Whether the latest court ruling will change that isn't entirely clear; Nets owner Bruce Ratner issued a statement that the ruling "further clears the way for Atlantic Yards" and that "we are continuing to move full speed ahead on the project" - which raises the question of whether if they were moving at half speed, they'd be going backwards.
As for local opponents, with legal options dwindling, they may be left to hope for a last-ditch reprieve from someone in state government. Develop Don't Destroy attorney Candace Carponter told the New York Times yesterday, "Our elected leaders, who understand those concerns, must gird themselves to bring more pressure to bear on Gov. Eliot Spitzer, now that we’ve had this legal decision." Last week, in the wake of the Madison Square Garden tax break kerfuffle, Brooklyn city councilmembers David Yassky and Letitia James said they'd introduce a resolution to reexamine city subsidies for the Nets as well. All-powerful council chair Christine Quinn replied through a spokesperson: "Once the councilmembers introduce a resolution, it will be referred to committee, where it will receive thorough and proper review." If that sounds like an endorsement to you, you have better rose-colored headphones than I do.