Rafael Pi Roman hosts and talks with New Yorkers on both sides of the debate.
"The eyes of most New Yorkers are on downtown Manhattan and the rebuilding of Ground Zero," said John DeNatale, executive producer of NEW YORK VOICES. "But Forest City Ratner's 22-acre development plan for central Brooklyn is one of the largest ever proposed for New York City. It would change the borough as we know it and has implications for all of New York City. We think it's important to give viewers all the facts."
NEW YORK VOICES: The Battle for Brooklyn will feature an interview with the chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, Charles Gargano, about the potential benefits of the project and about the concerns of local residents. Gargano is the top development official in the state. The public authority he leads not only must approve the plan, but would also be responsible for applying the use of eminent domain to condemn property on the footprint of the site, which has been one of the project's hot-button issues.
On the other side of the debate are Brooklyn residents Daniel Goldstein and Shabnam Merchant, who live at 636 Pacific Street in the footprint of the proposed development. There are three condo and one co-op buildings that would have to be demolished to make room for the project, and Goldstein and Merchant are the only residents left in the three buildings. Goldstein has refused to sell to the developer, and will challenge the use of eminent domain. Goldstein is also the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB), which leads a broad-based community coalition with over 700 volunteers that opposes the Forest City Ratner plan.
Also featured in the program is City Council Member Letitia James, who represents the area. James has been a strong opponent of the project ever since it was first announced, and she has taken criticism for her position from community organizations like ACORN, the affordable housing advocacy group, and BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), which have signed a Community Benefits Agreement with the developer.
NEW YORK VOICES is a production of Thirteen/WNET New York. John DeNatale is executive producer, Rafael Pi Roman is host. Show producers are Bob Morris, Jim Epstein, Suzanne Glickstein, and James Nicoloro. Scott Feinstein is editor.
- This weekend is Open House New York, both Saturday and Sunday. It is a free open house for architectural gems in all 5 boroughs. Go to www.OHNY.org to view or print the guide. Be sure to check out locations in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene that are not generally open to the public. (If anyone is able to attend, please send me a report -- I have to go to TEXAS this wknd for work!)
- The group show, "Footprints: Portraits of a Brooklyn Neighborhood" opens in Prospect Heights at the Grand Space on October 12. The show features 32 artists who illustrate the transformation of a neighborhood under threat of eminent domain through paintings, collages, videos, drawings and other materials.
- The next General Meeting of the Society for Clinton Hill(SCH) is on Thursday, Oct. 19, 7:30 pm, in the Sanctuary of St. Luke's Church on Washington Ave., between Dekalb and Willoughby. Francis Morrone, the noted architectural historian, author, journalist, lecturer will speak. His topic is, "Does Brooklyn Have a Character Worth Preserving?" Join SCH for an informative and thoughtful evening.
- DDDB Walkathon: Saturday, October 21. It starts at noon at the bandshell in Prospect Park. There will be a short 2 mile walk and a full day of events and a concert after. Sign up to walk or sponsor a walker to raise funds for the Legal Fund. Go to www.dddb.net/Walkathon to sign-up or get more information.