Thursday, January 21, 2010

Senator Schumer’s Block Is (Super) “Blighted”! (And Back to You, Marty)

The other day we included Senator Charles E. Schumer’s name in a list of “blockhead” politicians supporting the Atlantic Yards megadevelopment, who are apparently of a mind that if you can find cracks in a sidewalk the whole block can be seized from the people who live there, handed to a politically-connected developer and torn down for “redevelopment.” (See: Friday, January 15, 2010, Up and Down, "Blight" Is Everywhere: Just Glance Down “At Any Point” and Find “Blight” Smiling Back to You.) In the case of Atlantic Yards that has been turned into a scheme to give Forest City Ratner (without bid) a mega-monopoly on a vast swath of Brooklyn real estate. The justification for this in the case of Atlantic Yards is the vague anticipation that after tearing everything down Ratner might put something back in few decades.
Our previous sidewalk crack article hopped on the bandwagon of a collection of press stories about how ubiquitous “blight”-qualifying cracks in the sidewalk can be, how they can be found surrounding Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, anywhere in Manhattan that you might glance down, and in prestigious Brooklyn Heights, running the entire route from the premier homes on the Promenade to Borough Hall, no matter the street you pick to travel, Montague Street, Remsen Street, or whatever.

Chuck’s Luck
(Above: Photos documenting sidewalk cracks from the Atlantic Yards AKRF "professional" blight-finding study.)

Then it occurred to us: What about the Park Slope home of one of Brooklyn’s most famous Atlantic Yards-supporting politicians, Senator Chuck Schumer? We had already written about how the new Windsor Terrace home of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was reportedly “blighted” by virtue of such easy-to-qualify-for standards. Or some would say lack of standards, ESDC the state agency does the property-seizing, has no checklist to go by; it just allows a consultant to wing it when they send the consulting firm out, contracted to find blight “in support of a project.”
There Goes the Neighborhood
Visit the sidewalks of Senator Chuck’s Park Slope home we did and, lo and behold, it is pretty seriously blighted. There were sidewalk cracks all over the place. In fact, the problem was not confined to the sidewalks outside the senator’s apartment building: Right across the street there were still more cracks. It seems then that, like Atlantic Yards, tearing down just the senator’s block alone would not suffice: This was a case calling for superblocking! Tear down both blocks together and that way the sidewalks and streets between them could be gifted as extra real estate to the developer allowing it to build more buildings with extra density. After all, isn’t getting rid of all those sidewalks that are so peskily prone to cracks the best way of dispensing with the epidemic crack problem entirely?
No Relief in Sight

Just to make sure we weren’t being unfair we decided that maybe Senator Schumer’s block could deserve a reprieve from destruction if we didn’t find too many more sidewalk cracks when circling the entire block. No such luck. Senator Schumer’s block is doomed, a real goner if ever we saw one. All the sidewalks on all four sides had zillions of cracks, too many to show them all.
There may be an up side to this (other than the up side for the developer who now gets to seize Senator Schumer’s home): Maybe we can feel a little more house-proud and a little less abashed when Senator Schumer comes to visit the building we live in. Yes, you can’t get away from those cracks, some of the sidewalk cracks we included in pictures when last we wrote about vexatious sidewalk cracks are on our own block within yards from where we live. (Senator Schumer has indeed come by to visit the premises a few times- on his bicycle which we consider simpatico and rather game of him.)
Schumer Atlantic Yards Inconsistency

Would Senator Schumer agree with us that by fair-is-fair standards his block now needs to be taken away from him and the rest of its owners and torn down, just like the property seized for Atlantic Yards? We suspect he might protest. He might suggest that the cracked sidewalks of Park Slope actually have a certain charm. Maybe they do, but if he did protest it would not be the first inconsistency he has shown when supporting the Atlantic Yards mega-monopoly.

We wrote before about how Senator Schumer, in trying to clarify the health care reform debate, spoke about the evil of monopolies (an issue that should appeal “left, right and center” across the entire political spectrum) while he nevertheless defends Forest City Ratner’s proposed mega-monopoly in his hometown of Brooklyn. We said then “politicians who are compromised by their inconsistencies have trouble delivering a clear message.” Schumer’s Democrats do seem to be foundering in this regard. (See: Friday, November 27, 2009, Schumer's Multi-Monopoly Positions Unhealthily Muddy Debate on an Issue With Left, Right and Center Appeal.)

Back to the Other Brooklyn Boy, Marty M
(Above: Marty Markowitz's new home.)

As we said, our last post mentioned the report of similar blight at Marty Markowitz’s new home and since it is a quick trip from Senator Schumer’s by bike we thought we would go see for ourselves. Yes, indeed, there are lots more sidewalk cracks to ogle outside of Marty’s new home. The day we were there (the 16th) there was considerable disruption involving gas line work directly outside of Marty’s home but we were able to take in the scene nevertheless.
Here then to conclude our pictorial review are photos of the sidewalk cracks to be found in close proximity to Marty’s new house. Sorry, Marty. Your home’s a goner too.

(Someone thought the danger of this crack needed to be flagged with yellow paint.)

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