20, No. 9
May 3 -
Armory ‘Gag Order’ Dropped
Task Force to Review Proposals May 10
By ALEX KRATZ
After two months of negotiations with a Bronx advisory group,
city officials withdrew a controversial confidentiality agreement that would
have prevented group members, including prominent elected officials, from
speaking publicly about the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment proposals.
The advisory group — the Kingsbridge Armory Task Force — which is comprised
of local elected officials and community leaders, is now set to review the
proposals on May 10, but it’s unclear how much detail they’ll get to see.
Initially, the task force was supposed to sit down and review the three
proposals for the long-vacant Armory with the city’s Economic Development
Corporation (EDC) on March 1.
But elected officials, including Congressman Josť Serrano and Council Member
Oliver Koppell, balked at signing a prerequisite confidentiality agreement
before the meeting, saying it was too broad and infringed on their ability
to relay information to their constituents. Officials referred to the
agreement as a gag order.
Instead of reviewing the proposals, the task force and EDC spent the March 1
meeting discussing the parameters of a viable confidentiality agreement.
Both sides appeared willing to compromise. The EDC remained adamant that
some type of confidentiality agreement needed to be in place to ensure the
integrity of the selection process. The task force wasn’t against an
agreement as long as it was more specific and limited in scope.
In the following weeks, the EDC sent a couple of agreement re-drafts to task
force members. Counter-proposals, including at least one from Koppell’s
office, were then sent back to the EDC. Then, talks between the parties
stopped and the EDC simply dropped the confidentiality agreement requirement
Now, the task force is scheduled to meet with the EDC on May 10 to review
the three Armory proposals (from Related Companies, Atlantic Development
Group and Rosenshein Associates), but it’s unclear exactly what parts of the
proposals will be available and what will be excluded.
EDC spokesman Andrew Brent said the task force will still be able to see
project details that will allow a thorough understanding of each proposal,
but Koppell and others on the task force don’t seem to know precisely what
that means they will be looking at on May 10.
“We’ve sought to preserve two things in this process: legitimate
collaboration with local stakeholders that allows them an opportunity to
give substantive feedback on the proposals and a course of action that
maintains the highest levels of integrity and competitiveness to ensure we
get the best result for the community and the city,” said Brent, in an
e-mail to the Norwood News.
Since the Armory Task Force was created last summer, the EDC has hyped the
group as an unprecedented community voice in a major city project. Brent
said the task force’s input remains “vital.”
And though it remains unclear how the lack of a confidentiality agreement
will affect the selection process, the May 10 meeting is “a step in the
right direction,” said task force member Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter, who
represents Serrano and works with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy
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