DDDB’s Walkathon 4 Livens Up Fourth Avenue
by John Baker
Oct 23, 2008 | 2917 views | 0 0 comments | 44 44 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On the first truly brisk night of the burgeoning autumn, a young couple ascended the stairs at the Union Street station on 4th Avenue to find themselves face to face with a marching band and a rather large crowd holding candles.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s 4th Annual Walkathon had arrived at the Brooklyn Lyceum, livening up the normally staid block of 4th Avenue. The Walkathon, which had begun at Bob Law’s Seafood Café on Vanderbilt Avenue, was held by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn to raise money and support for the organization’s fight against the Atlantic Yards project.

The event raised $45,000, which will be used for legal fees in the protracted court battles being held to stall and halt the mega-project. Walkers enlisted the support of donors to sponsor their walk, which was followed by the reception at the Lyceum, a former bathhouse and gym that now serves as a coffee shop and cultural center for the neighborhood.

Although the turnout looked to be under 200 people, the crowd distinguished itself by representing a wide cross-section of the neighborhood - the usual activist crowd mitigated by children and strollers. If not for the myriad signs calling attention to the group’s focus, the event could have been mistaken for a spontaneous autumn night of wassailing. The group managed to forgo the usual chants, instead relying on brightly colored signs proclaiming “Ratner Get Lost” and extolling the “Park Slop Neighborhood”.

A marching band provided most of the entertainment for the walk, in the form of “When the Saints Go Marching In” as well as with a slight preview of the Halloween spirit. The tuba player sported a fez, while the saxophonist wore a jaunty set of rabbit ears to the event. The band let a slightly funereal feel to the event, which seemed apt considering the current state of the Atlantic Yards project.

Developer Bruce Ratner’s mega-project seems to have fallen on hard times recently, though new Treasury Department regulations announced Tuesday would seem to offer the first glimmer of hope in a good while. Ratner previously had hoped to break ground on the project this year, though that outlook looks bleaker with each passing day. The developer has had his hands full with court challenges sponsored by Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, as well as with the larger issue of financing a minimum $4 billion project considering current economic conditions.

Tuesday’s Treasury Department ruling looks to allow Ratner to grandfather in tax-exempt bonds to help pay for the project. The bonds, which would go towards paying for the Barclays Arena as part of the larger project, would be allowed to continue under a loophole that classified them as part of an ongoing project. The Barclays Arena has become one of the major focal points of the project, as it would be both the new home of the New Jersey Nets, and also involve public funding.
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