Sure, the project might represent a potential job for one person, or a traffic nightmare, a thrilling sports opportunity, or the loss of home to eminent domain for someone else.
But the scope of the project is so vast, the numbers so big, and the dealmakers so elusive that for many people the entire thing has become one big abstraction; another massive development that might or might not happen, worth more money than the average Nets fan could possibly dream of.
In this way, and because of the project’s overexposure in the media, year after year, it seems to have lost whatever mystique it might have had from the beginning.
Ask the hipster next to you at a coffee shop in Brooklyn, or the old lady behind you at a diner in Queens, what they think of the project and they’re likely to shrug and say, “Oh, that thing? Are they still building it?”
Clearly, for most people not directly involved with trying to build or block it, the interest level has waned. We read about it in the news, mainly because we can’t help it, but secretly we just want the whole thing to be over, in one way or another.
Let’s move on, right?
Well, not so fast. For a somewhat small but passionate few, this is still the top story, an all-consuming every day beast to contend with. The people in this category include the developer Bruce Ratner, of course, the state, the city and finally the stalwart opponents of the plan.
This last group, more than anyone else, has shown a limitless energy for the project that is at once crazy and courageous. Led by, at various times, elected officials like Councilwoman Letitia James, the community activist Daniel Goldstein, and many, many others, they just don’t seem to stop.
Goldstein in particular reminds one of the Jamaican bobsledder in the movie Cool Runnings: when asked if the words give up mean anything to him, he answers “Not a thing.”
At some point, maybe even any day now (though judging by this project’s history maybe not for years) Atlantic Yards will break decisively in one way or another.
Considering that the odds are always on the side that has the most money and power, it’s a solid bet Ratner takes it in the end and goes on to build his arena, collection of buildings and what not, and in so doing transforms Brooklyn in a meaningful way - for better or for worse, you be the judge - for generations to come.
Until that moment comes, its worth pausing to acknowledge the tremendous community effort to block the project.
However it plays out, they’ve put up a hell of a fight.