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CBA Signatories Tout Atlantic Yards In Albany

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While opponents of the proposed Atlantic Yards project continue to circle their wagons, local proponents of the project took their case to Albany last weekend. The signatories to the state’s first-ever community benefits agreement (CBA) explained the document in a forum, in front of the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators Caucus. “I thought it [the forum] was great. We had a very large turnout,” said Assembly member Roger Green, who co-chaired the event. “A lot of the discussion was very favorable [of the project] and informative on what was accomplished and what still needs to happen. There was also an honest critique about things to work on in the future,” he added. Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) signed the CBA last summer with a coalition of eight local organizations representing low- and moderate-income residents, religious institutions, an educational consortium, and minority contactors. The CBA has seven major components including workforce development, affordable housing, small business development, a community facility including amenities. The three other components include environmental insurances, targeted employment for public housing residents, and utilization of clergy across different religious backgrounds. “This is the most far-reaching CBA in the country. It is so comprehensive and will benefit Brooklyn and New York City in ways that are unimaginable,” testified Bertha Lewis, of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). “This is the model that can be used not only by the city, but the state and the rest of the country.” Lewis, on behalf of ACORN, actually signed two CBAs with FCRC – both the larger document involving the entire project, and a separate one for becoming the non-profit entity helping to ensure 2,250 housing units in the project are earmarked for low- and moderate-income families. Other signatories at the forum talked about how the CBA negotiations unfolded and discussed the uniqueness of the agreement. “There is a time and a place for picket signs and there is a time and a place for a level head and negotiation skills,” said Delia Hunley-Adossa, president of the First Atlantic Terminal Housing Committee (FATHC), a signatory to the agreement. “What’s different about the CBA is that we were at the table. We were on the inside. It’s just unpreceden­ted,” she added. Another part of the forum focused on economic development issues. Marie Louis, representing Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD), maintained that with unemployment in the borough what it is, the dire need for affordable housing and the borough’s state of minority businesses, the community cannot afford to do without the Atlantic Yards project. “This means revitalization for our community and a better tomorrow,” Louis said. Charlene Nimmons of Public Housing Communities (PHC), which also signed the CBA, said public housing residents have been waiting for an opportunity like this for a long time. “Many times promises are made and not kept, but this time it is in writing,” said Nimmons. “We have a high rate of unemployment and our goal is to make an impact on those numbers. We believe this can be done by making those that come into our community accountable to the needs of the people,” she added. The signatories also announced that FCRC and McKissack & McKissack, the nation’s oldest minority-owned construction firm, which will be construction manager for the Atlantic Rail Yards reconstruction, will be holding a conference for minority and women-owned construction and construction-related firms that want to bid on jobs in the project. The conference will be an informational session where prospective firms will learn more about the rail yard project so they can prepare bids for the work that is expected. Construction is subject to public approvals. Contracting opportunities are expected to be available in demolition, electrical, site safety, mechanical, trucking, plumbing, general cleaning, concrete, abatement, excavation, rubbish removal, formwork/carpentry, extermination, environmental monitoring, track work and reinforcing steel/lathing. The conference is slated for 6-9 p.m., March 7 at the Atlantic Terminal Mall, at 625 Atlantic Avenue on the third floor. Minority and women-owned contractors wishing to attend must register at www.thedarmangroup.com or by calling 718-337-1100, ext. 103 by March 3.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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