Monday, October 09, 2006

Dunking The Nets Into Coney

The local community organization opposed to the location of the Nets basketball arena in Prospect Heights as part of the Atlantic Yards Project - Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn is making the case about having Prospect Heights be spared of the Nets arena and letting Coney deal with another sports complex to the already diminishing amusement district.

In a study by urban planner Simon Bertrang on behalf of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, Bertrang sets out to prove the failure in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) issued by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) for determining the Prospect Heights site as the most feasible site for the arena by ignoring two out of three studies conducted three decades apart. The last two which designates Coney as the most suited site for the arena.

In the
Bertrang study he goes on to mention the following:
There is NO evidence or argument made in the DEIS as to why an arena should be located at FCRC/ESDC’s chosen Prospect Heights location or why a proposed Brooklyn arena must be developed in conjunction with a major residential development. ESDC has made a gross error by ignoring the results of the 1984 and 1994 studies that found Coney Island to be the best site in the borough for a multi-use arena.

The two Coney sites mentioned in the last two studies are the “Gateway site” owned by KeySpan Energy and the “Waterfront site” adjacent to Keyspan which holds two possible positions there. First being right over the parking lot of Abe Stark Rink or slightly off to the west which are part privately-owned underutilized parcels and would require acquisition. In addition the rink would have to be demolished.
The “Gateway site” seems no longer the ideal site due to the fact that it would require easier access from the belt and a pedestrian bridge to cross the creek. Plus it would be tucked further away from the bustle of Coney’s waterfront. Who says Neptune Avenue can’t be part of Coney’s revitalization. Neptune Avenue has been neglected. One can envision Neptune with office buildings and even museums.

Other issues the studies debate are the transportation centers of both Stillwell Station and hub at Atlantic Terminal

Bertrang writes:
The Coney Island subway lines have low existing passenger loads and substantial reserve capacities. In addition, the Stillwell Avenue station is a newly renovated jewel – with wide ramps and platforms designed to handle a surge in crowds and efficient vertical movement from platform to street. The Atlantic Avenue/Pacific Street station on the other hand has no reserve capacity – the platforms and trains are overcrowded, the platforms narrow and the maze of underground corridors connecting the various platforms confusing. If mass transit’s capacity to absorb new riders, especially the kind of surge in riders associated with the beginning or end of an NBA game in New York City, is taken into account, the Coney Island sites are far superior.

Atlantic Yard Report

blog writes:
Moreover, an arena in Coney Island would help revitalize the area--indeed, the neighborhood still awaits major investment and refurbishing or replacement of vast public housing complexes. Bertrang suggests redevelopment in Prospect Heights "with appropriately scaled development" would be appropriate and welcomed. He adds:However, nothing in the economic development goals of the Prospect Heights neighborhood necessitates an arena - in fact, an arena may be a drag on the project – creating an infrastructure headache, requiring the expensive relocation of the rail yards, and necessitating the use of eminent domain and the delays associated with its application.Unmentioned here, or in the DEIS, is one of the main reasons for the arena: to leverage state and city funds, and political support, for a much larger development project. As the Slatin Report last month

quoted a pro-development city official:The arena, the official complained, is a "Trojan Horse" that the developer used to sneak an overly dense project into Brooklyn.

All in all many agree that the Nets arena should be housed in Coney Island. But with proposed high-end retail, luxury hotels, and more residential buildings - let’s be careful not to eradicate, almost completely, what Coney has meant since the days of Sodom by the Sea and that is the fervor of its amusement district.

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