Tomorrow marks a critical point in our accountability campaign involving Forest City Ratner Companies. We’re meeting with Senior Vice President of External Affairs Ashley Cotton about the developer’s fulfillment of the Community Benefits Agreement.
On behalf of the community, we’ll be asking Ashley for a record of what F.C.R.C.’s done to implement the C.B.A. since 2005, and proposing a plan for implementation and compliance monitoring of the agreement moving forward.
What does this all mean?
Brooklyn sacrificed a lot for F.C.R.C. to be able to build their development. Our support came in the form of public meetings, protests, calls to politicians, and $1.5 billion in tax revenues.
In exchange for our support, F.C.R.C. worked with the community to create the C.B.A. This agreement guaranteed our communities construction jobs and contracts, affordable housing opportunities, jobs and job training programs, service contracts, retail space, business financing programs and more.
The agreement was signed over a decade ago, F.C.R.C. has had more than 10 years to make good on their promises, but they’ve failed to do so. The agreement has yet to be fully implemented.
The C.B.A. states that F.C.R.C.’s efforts to implement the agreement are to be monitored by an outside organization in order to ensure compliance. Unfortunately, F.C.R.C. has opted to never work with such an organization.
Further, we’d question the effectiveness of any prospective compliance monitor that would be paid by the company it’s supposed to be monitoring.
We’re proposing that HigherSelf Lifestyle implement the Community Benefits Agreement in the areas of employment and workforce development, business development, business contracting, and financing. They’ll provide training programs, services and resources for small businesses and individuals within neighborhoods named in the agreement. Forest City Ratner Companies will need to pay the $149,000 yearly administration cost to implement these programs and services within the community.
Just as important, we’re proposing that Devotion NYC become the C.B.A. independent compliance monitor, and at no cost to F.C.R.C. We believe that an independent compliance monitor is essential to any effort to enforce a community benefits agreement. Also, for the sake of integrity, it’s imperative that the compliance monitor isn’t being compensated by the companies it monitors.
We’ll use public input in the form of regular open polls and surveys to measure how satisfied the community is with the agreement’s implementation within their neighborhoods. We believe that the community should have ultimate say about whether or not their needs are being met by the companies that accept their tax and consumer dollars. The ‘C’ in C.B.A. stands for ‘community’, so it’s critical that everyone has a voice in its enforcement.
Thank you so much for your support thus far, and moving forward! Tomorrow we’ll let you know what F.C.R.C. decides to do on our blog, and on social media. Follow us on Twitter @Devotion_NYC_ for updates!