Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Olympic protesters seek answers

Subject: Olympic protesters seek answers
Date: 2/22/2005 12:14:04 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
From: kitchen@hellskitchen.net
Sent from the Internet (Details)

Olympic protesters seek answers
February 21, 2005

Activists on Manhattan's West Side and in Brooklyn hope to make their
opposition to the 2012 Olympics known to a team of International Olympic
Committee scouts in town for four days of evaluating New York City's bid.

But John Fisher, who has coordinated Olympic protests, said last night that
his requests to meet with the IOC group have been put in the hands of
NYC2012 officials, "and they have no intention of meeting with us." Fisher
said he sent three requests to IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland,
and when he finally got an answer, he was told that NYC2012 was responsible
for the scout team's schedule.

"I will probably call the IOC again," Fisher said last night. "We're asking
the IOC. We're not asking [NYC2012 bid leader Dan Doctoroff]. These people
are guests of New York City, not personal guests of Dan Doctoroff. But I'm
not holding my breath."

Fisher has organized citizens in Hell's Kitchen, primarily against the
proposed West Side stadium, and said two groups in Brooklyn, the Prospect
Heights Action Coalition and another in Williamsburg, have their own
NYC2012 venue targets. One is the arena that new Nets owner Bruce Ratner
would build in Downtown Brooklyn, the other a swimming complex foreseen in

When a small group of protesters appeared during the IOC team's visit to
Madrid earlier this month, scout chairwoman Nawal El Moutawakel said that
none had sought a meeting with her group, which reportedly met with London
protesters during last week's visit there.

"We will be doing things," Fisher said vaguely. "Before, you could say New
Yorkers were ambivalent about this. But what I'm hearing on the street now
is real opposition. They don't want [a New York Olympics]."

Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

February 22, 2005
New Bidder Offers $700 Million for Railyard if It Also Gets a Site in Brooklyn
NY Times

A week after the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened up the
bidding for the West Side railyard, where the city wants to build a
football stadium, a new bid has come in for the property - one that seems
custom-made to stir the anger of Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff.

The bid was submitted yesterday by TransGas, an energy company, which has
offered to pay $700 million for the railyard and a platform over the
tracks, which is $100 million more than the next highest bid, from
Cablevision. But there is a catch: TransGas wants the M.T.A.'s help in
getting approval for the company's plans to build an electric power plant
on the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, along with a contract from the
authority to buy power from the company for the next 20 years.

In an interview, Adam Victor, the president of TransGas, did not deny that
his offer, a three-page letter that went to the authority yesterday, is a
form of revenge. For more than two years, Mr. Doctoroff - the city's point
man in winning the 2012 Olympics and building the stadium - has blocked the
energy company's attempts to build a natural gas power plant at North 12th
Street, on the site of an active fuel oil depot just south of the Bushwick

The city has proposed rezoning a 1.6-mile stretch of the Brooklyn
waterfront, including the fuel depot and the adjacent neighborhood, for
housing and open space. In an example of how all land-use decisions seem to
lead back to the city's bid for the 2012 Olympics, the TransGas site in
Brooklyn is currently designated for an Olympic aquatic center as well as a
site for beach volleyball.

Mr. Victor said he was not opposed to the Olympics and would gladly
accommodate the aquatic center in Brooklyn. In an effort to quell community
opposition to the power plant, Mr. Victor has proposed building it
underground and providing $50 million for affordable housing. He also hired
Philip Johnson/Alan Ritchie Architects to design the above-ground elements
and carve out a spot in the New York skyline. A rendering depicts a park, a
spaceship-like structure above a small administrative building and
three-sided pyramids above the intake vents.

The flues are wrapped in spiraling translucent glass that would light up at
night. It was Mr. Johnson's last project before he died in January at 98.

"We turned the smokestacks and cooling tower into sculptural elements," Mr.
Ritchie said. "We wanted to create art."

Mr. Victor said his bid for the railyard is an attempt to get the city's
attention for his power plant, which would generate enough electricity to
light a million homes, burn relatively cleanly and recycle its waste heat
to make steam.

New York needs plants that can produce electricity locally, he said. The
Bloomberg administration had suggested an alternative site, land owned by
ExxonMobil. But that property, near the Newtown Creek, is highly
contaminated with oil and is unavailable, Mr. Victor said.

Mr. Victor said his offer for the railyard had only three conditions, which
could be met within a year. The M.T.A. would have to agree to a 20-year
power contract and the state's siting board would have to grant a permit to
TransGas. Finally, he said, the Public Service Commission would have to
order Con Edison to buy steam from TransGas at a price equal to its own
cost of producing power. None of this, the letter said, would require
approval by the city or the federal government.

Jennifer Falk, a spokeswoman for the Bloomberg administration, predicted
that the stadium proposal would prevail in the end.

"We remain confident that the M.T.A. process will produce the best possible
proposal, and that the sports and convention center is the best one for the
M.T.A. and for the city, as it will generate an enormous profit and help
pay for vital city services like education and public safety," she said.
Transportation authority officials could not be reached for comment
yesterday, a legal holiday.

Regarding the railyard, Mr. Victor said that his bid did not "preclude the
construction of a stadium," although his company had not decided what it
wanted to do there.

The bid from TransGas is the latest offer for the development rights over
the railyard since the Bloomberg administration's plans to build a stadium
that could be used by the Jets and the Olympics turned into a free-for-all
earlier this month. Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden and has
spent millions of dollars opposing the stadium, suddenly offered $600
million for the rights, $500 million more than the Jets had put on the
bargaining table.

As a result, the authority, which is facing fare hikes, service cuts and a
multibillion-dollar shortfall in its capital budget, decided to abandon its
exclusive, yearlong negotiation with the Jets and hold an auction. The
deadline for bids is March 21.

"The city will have to work with me if they want to build a stadium," said
Mr. Victor, who insisted he was making a bona fide offer.

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