Statement of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA
on the Proposed Agreement for the Atlantic Yards Project
Before the MTA Board
June 24, 2009
The sale or lease of the MTA’s real property interests is a critical component of the Authority’s capital funding strategy. Where it can be accomplished consistent with the efficient operation of our public transportation system, the PCAC has strongly supported development of MTA property to yield much needed resources for the maintenance, improvement, and expansion of the MTA system. However, we have also called upon this Board to enter into agreements only when they provide the maximum net economic benefit to the MTA, consistent with the MTA’s vital mission of moving the residents of our region. This project has long been surrounded by questions about its economic benefit to the MTA, and it appears that important questions about this project remain.
Almost four years ago, this Board received proposals for the development of the Atlantic Yards and several months later authorized MTA officials to proceed with finalizing agreements to complete the transaction. The project that is before you today, however, differs substantially from that envisioned in 2005, and the structure of the benefits flowing to the MTA has also changed considerably. Once again, we are troubled that such a major proposal has been revealed only days before coming before this Board without a committee recommendation. Regardless of schedules that have been established for this process, it is the duty of each Board member to give this proposal the full examination that it deserves and to be satisfied with his or her understanding of its implications before proceeding.
As we have noted in the past, the large real property transactions that come before this Board are momentous decisions. For the good of the system and its riders, you must make informed and reasoned decisions on the proposals that come before you; there will be no second chances to derive full value from the MTA’s assets. We call upon each of you to move this process forward only when you have the information and understanding necessary for you to conclude that the proposal accepted is in the best interest of the MTA and those whom it was established to serve.