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Three days after Newark residents learned that two streets around that city’s new glass-walled sports arena would be sealed off on game nights, residents near the Atlantic Yards footprint called on state officials to admit that the same frustrating scenario will likely happen in the heart of Brooklyn.
The Frank Gehry–designed arena that is a part of Bruce Ratner’s $4-billion mega-project bears striking similarities to Newark’s Prudential Center — similarities that opponents seized on at Sunday’s walkathon against the project.
“The Prudential arena is a wake-up call,” said Jim Vogel of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods. “We cannot allow the security questions about the arena to continue unanswered.”
Like the Prudential Center, Gehry’s “Barclays Center” sits at a major public transportation hub. And like the future home of the New Jersey Devils, the future Brooklyn Nets arena is lined on all sides with glass — which Newark officials have concluded makes it so tempting a terror target that they’ll need to close two streets around the arena when games are being played.
If the same security protocol was put in place at Atlantic Yards, Dean Street — and parts of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, which also face the arena’s glass walls — would be closed, causing major traffic disruptions.
“It’s common sense that when the chief of police in Newark [closes] down two abutting streets specifically for terrorism, the parallels are clear … complete or partial street closures are likely outcomes [in Brooklyn],” said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.
The Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement did not draw the same conclusions as Goldstein.
“Security measures are not anticipated to affect traffic flow, parking, or the movement of goods and people in the vicinity of the project site,” said the document, which was written last year — long before Newark’s security decision became public.
Indeed, Newark officials concluded just the opposite — they would need to close streets to traffic on game days. That’s not acceptable to Yards opponents.
“In Brooklyn we don’t want to play catch-up and we must learn the lesson from Newark,” said Goldstein.
Opponents also seized on the fact that Newark officials made their street-closing decision in secret — until it was revealed last week in the Star-Ledger — and that neither the Empire State Development Corporation nor the NYPD will discuss their current security plans.
That’s why Goldstein, Vogel and Councilmember Letitia James (D–Prospect Heights) demanded hearings about security plans at Atlantic Yards.
That call came on Sunday afternoon in front of the anti-Ratner hotbed, Freddy’s Bar, on Dean Street, before a walkathon to benefit Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s ongoing legal battle against Atlantic Yards. About 200 people marched through Park Slope and Prospect Heights in a show of support. [The walkathon raised $50,000, according to Develop Don’t Destroy.]
After the rally, Michael Balboni, who is Gov. Spitzer’s deputy secretary for public safety in the state’s Office of Homeland Security, said he is willing to meet with community groups.
But no matter how good the Brooklyn security plan is, experts dislike the secrecy surrounding it.
“There is a reasonable expectation on the part of the public that they be informed,” said Robert McCrie, a security management professor at John Jay College
“If the public is going to be inconvenienced, they should know, in advance, what is anticipated — and that they have an opportunity to voice their feelings.”
The NYPD, the state and Forest City Ratner would not comment for this story, leaving opponents to wonder whether the only thing worse than driving down Atlantic Avenue during a Nets home game might be not being able to drive down Atlantic Avenue at all during a Nets home game.
Opponents of Atlantic Yards seized on new concerns raised by Newark, N.J. police about security at the soon-to-open Prudential Center hockey arena.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, police will close off some streets around the glass-fronted arena to ward off a potential terror attack.
Bruce Ratner’s proposed Atlantic Yards arena is also glass-walled — and activists say that Ratner and state officials have never openly discussed the possibility of closing additional streets to traffic.
©2007 Community Newspaper Group
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