The "other side" got its due Tuesday night as the weeks devoted to the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presentation of In the Footprint: The Battle over Atlantic Yards, came to a conclusion. Prompted by the dramatic story of the drawn-out development of a 22-acre, $4 billion plot in Brooklyn, the presentation asked: Megaprojects: Can we balance individual and social good?
Although one audience member immediately questioned the absence of any community representative on the assembled panel, it seemed a fitting retort to the play, which was told primarily through the — widely diverging — viewpoints of residents and activists. For this round, players from Bart Blatstein to ex-Mayor John Street had their say.
Moderator Heshimu Jaramoji got the ball rolling by asking each of the four panelists to name the role in the play that they most identified with. Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger humorously mused that the "hard-pressed public official whose job it is to make sense of conflicting views" was absent from the work.
But his comment served as a good opportunity for both the panelists and the audience to embark on a discussion centered on the importance of communication during megaprojects. Done properly from the beginning, such efforts might have resulted in people "feeling a bit more patient, more trusting of the process," observed Chris Satullo, Executive Director of News and Civic Dialogue at WHYY.
"More important than talking with people, is listening to them," Blatstein added. "It's a lot of hard work, but when reasonable people get together, things can be worked out."
"Thanks for the supermarket," someone shouted from the audience in response, referring to the recent opening of a SuperFresh in Blatstein's latest Northern Liberties development.
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