The BHA is a member of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition with 10 other civic and community-based organizations. BrooklynSpeaks was originally launched in 2006 to address the City’s and State’s lack of transparency with respect to the governance of the Atlantic Yards Project, advocate for public involvement in the project’s decision-making process, and force attention to the project’s adverse environmental impacts and the concerns of the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2014, BrooklynSpeaks sued Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner, the project’s developer, over the project’s racial discrimination with regard to its displacement of the area’s minority residents. A court settlement was reached which greatly accelerated the completion of the project’s affordable housing and established the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, which provided for greater involvement by representatives of the affected communities in oversight of the project. However, the settlement also meant an effective end to BrooklynSpeaks’ original role.
A new mission for BrooklynSpeaks has resulted from ongoing discussions initiated by the BHA with representatives of the coalition since the fall of 2015. The principals involved have reformulated BrooklynSpeaks’ mission around the issue of overdevelopment throughout the borough. They are developing a set of principles and strategies to contribute more effectively to policy and political debates on this issue within Brooklyn, as well as citywide. The BHA envisions BrooklynSpeaks as an appropriate platform to support its response to the development projects in and around Downtown Brooklyn that threaten to create a wall around Brooklyn Heights.
Since BrooklynSpeaks represents a coalition of downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods, it can serve as a collective voice in advocating for City development policies that give much stronger heed to the need for comprehensive planning, adequate investment in the infrastructure needed to support new development, and greater concern for the historic fabric, scale, and quality-of-life concerns of neighborhoods.
For more on BrooklynSpeaks and the coalition of community-based organizations that are part of this initiative, go here.