Hurricane Irene may rank as one of the ten costliest natural disasters in the nation’s history, but yesterday New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who asked for federal disaster relief dollars to help recover from the storm, announced that New York State’s estimated share of those losses would be $1 billion, substantially less than, just a fraction of, the total cost to the public of the Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly the state has helped engineer for private developer Bruce Ratner. It is difficult to provide a final, pinned down, perfectly calculated total cost to the public of the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment but it will be over $2 billion dollars, coming in at a total figure somewhere midway between $2 and $3 billion (unless it's more).
That cost to the public does not include the costs of the developer’s tearing down parts of the thriving surrounding neighborhood (on which the developer will not now pay taxes), which blocks will now largely lie fallow for decades, perhaps 20 or as many as 40 or more years. Right now, the only portion of the overall 22-acre project being built is the Prokhorov/Ratner “Barclays” sports arena which the New York City Independent Budget Office’s calculations have certified as a net loss to the public. (Ratner will wind up owning about 30 contiguous acres in all.)
Meanwhile, in other Hurricane Irene related news, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is blubbering about the “dreadful decision” to exclude Brooklyn from the counties designated for public assistance via the federal disaster declaration covering many other areas of the state (Albany, Bronx, Clinton, Delaware, Dutchess, Essex, Greene, Montgomery, Nassau, New York, Queens, Rensselaer, Richmond, Rockland, Schoharie, Suffolk, Ulster, Warren, and Westchester).
“Blubbering” would seem to be a fair word to use given that Marty’s pet Atlantic Yards mega-project failed to batten down, prepare and take reasonable and required precautions before the storm which, had the storm been worse, could have significantly boosted damage all around the neighborhood. This is something Mr. Markowitz has not seen fit to mention or criticize, par for the course because when it comes to Atlantic Yards the idea that there should ever be public regulation or oversight of this super-sized monopoly is something of a joke.
If Mr. Markowitz is blasé about his friends’ failures to reasonably prepare in advance to avoid a major hurricane’s destruction is he really in a position to publicly bawl afterwards about whatever damage eventually did occur? Or another way of looking at it: After advocating that $2 to $3 billion in public funds be poured down the Atlantic Yards rat hole, is Markowitz really in a position to weep about how the federal government is failing to come up with sums to cover damages which, by comparison, will be fairly penny ante?
PS: After the original date of this post Marty Markowitz did get his wish; Brooklyn was designated a federal disaster area: Brooklyn No Longer Left Off Disaster List, by Any Newman, September 2, 2011, 2:10 pm.