"replacing people for a basketball court"


Big money interests, not least the NYTimes, want to displace families, artisans and artists, and in fact physically destroy an entire Brooklyn community, in order to build a commercial sports arena.

Our friend Charles Goldman once lived in a building on Dean Street that will be levelled for the proposed Nets Stadium. New York and the world are much better for what he and other artists created there.

Jimmy Breslin has the scoop on the human cost, and gives it out today in his column piece, "So Whose Domain Is It?".

The claim is that the land can be condemned under eminent domain. This is a way for the government to take land for needed undertakings. The Verrazano Bridge, for one.

But this time they want to take 71 buildings on 10 acres and more than three blocks. This would throw out 864 residents, including 200 people who work in their homes at things like violins, canvas stretching, architecture, photography, painting. They make gentle so much around them, and their government wants to replace them with a basketball team that has a player named Jason Kidd and would be a nice addition to Brooklyn, if you had them in an arena someplace that disturbed no human beings who contribute a lot more to the world than a foul shot.

The idea of replacing people for a basketball court is so insane that of course it brought me right back to the Corona houses - the Corona 69 - who were going to be displaced by an athletic field for Forest Hills High School. The 69 residents had a meeting at the Corona Volunteer Ambulance Hall and it was at a point when they had no chance, the courts and the thieves had it wrapped up. Then a fairly young, unknown Court Street lawyer named Mario Cuomo walked into the hall and said he would represent them. Soon, he had legal paper flying and motions causing dizziness in courts. The city lawyers were sick to their stomachs. And the people rose up and produced this one most memorable scene of civic rebellion:

The great Mrs. Nellie Picarelli stood up at a meeting in a school auditorium and reached into her purse and brought out a big hammer and waved it in the air.

"Why don't you try coming to take my house?" she yelled at a politician.

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Published on January 22, 2004 7:10 PM.

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