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Locals, Lawmakers Still Divided Over Atlantic Yards

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The proposed basketball arena in Brooklyn's controversial Atlantic Yards project was once thought to be a moneymaker for the city, but an independent budget analysis predicts the city will lose money on the deal. NY1's Grace Rauh filed the following report.

At a Friday hearing in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, state officials called to separate fact from fiction when talking about the future of controversial Atlantic Yards project.

"Bring transparency to this process and to understand not only where we are, how we got here, where we're going, but also for the future, how we can do better," said Manhattan State Senator Bill Perkins.

The economy is not just threatening to change the scale of the plan, but the benefits it might deliver for the city.

Back in 2005, a basketball arena alone was expected to yield some $25 million dollars in economic benefits, according to the city's Independent Budget Office.

Now that the cost of financing the project has nearly doubled for the city, the office predicts that financial boost will disappear. Its numbers suggest the arena will become a money-loser in the end.

The city argued that its investment to bring the New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn will pay off.

"The Atlantic Yards project will generate significant new tax revenues, likely exceeding a half-billion dollars," said Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economical Development Corporation.

While construction workers in the audience were quite vocal in their support for the Atlantic Yards project, the crowd also included local residents who are opposed.

"By and large, it's just the wrong project for the wrong location, and we're very concerned about the pressure on the infrastructure, on the water supply, the electric grid," said a local.

Developer Bruce Ratner is still in negotiations with the city, state and Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the plan. Earlier this month, the project cleared another hurdle when a panel of judges ruled that the state could use eminent domain to move the project forward.

"The housing, the retail, the development, all these have translated into one thing: jobs," said Marisa Lagos of the Empire State Development Corporation.

Money may be tight these days, but it was clear on Friday that there is no shortage of emotion about the project.

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