According to this City Room blog post at the New York Times, Daniel Goldstein, the "last Atlantic Yards holdout" and the driving force behind Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, has agreed to cease his objections to the taking of his family home in return for $3 million. For a statement from Mr. Goldstein, see here.
We say good for him.
Browse through some of the comments on the post, however, and you will note that others view this through more jaded lenses: "We knew it was all about the money in the end," "I guess it was about money all along, eh?," "Moral of the story: He who holds out longest, gets the biggest check. No good guys in this one." Similar charges were leveled against Susette Kelo when she eventually settled her case.
These comments are unfair, and reflect a gross lack of understanding of what it really means to be on the business end of eminent domain, especially in a situation such as this where Goldstein and his neighbors have been forced to move from their unblighted homes and businesses to make way for luxury residences and a new arena for the New Jersey Nets basketball team. All he and his neighbors were asking was that their properties not be seized and turned over to another private party, and that the government actually prove their homes and businesses were "blighted" as claimed.
New York's federal courts didn't even want to hear their claims, while the highest state court concluded the question of whether their properties are really "blighted" as the city and the developer claim is an issue so complicated that it's beyond the ability of judges to grasp.
To characterize Goldstein as "folding" or as a sellout is to imply that he presently has options other than to go down in a blaze of righteous glory. To suggest he was bought is the height of cynicism. He pretty much lost at every step, but continued his uphill struggle long after most people of less stout fabric would've folded up and quit. Yet he went forward, with nothing more than the hope that the courts might listen. These comments also overlook the personal, financial, and emotional toll a battle like this can take.
If someone actually believes that Goldstein's dogged opposition to the project and the taking of his property was simply an angle to squeeze more money out of the developer, remind us never to take a trip to Vegas with that person, because from the start, the odds were against Goldstein and his neighbors getting anything truly satisfactory. As property owners trying to preserve their homes and businesses against a taking by an influential city insider, the legal decks -- especially because this is New York -- were always stacked against them.
For a more realistic perspective on Goldstein's action, see Norman Oder's post on the subject at the Atlantic Yards Report:
While some online commenters have lauded him for fighting the good fight against a government and developer with enormous resources, some sneer that he was in it for the money. That's hard to believe, given the amount of work he put in.
Some may think he should've held out to the bitter end. He might've gotten far less money in the legal process--and, I'd add, it's hardly comfortable for someone with a wife and child living alone in a building next to a construction site.
Goldstein told Crain's "there was nothing more I could possibly do to fight this project." Given that he did more than anyone, it's hard to fault his decision, but the settlement, as noted, likely weakens pending litigation that already faced an uphill battle.
For more reports on these events, go here.