Community Benefits Agreement in Brooklyn Draws Criticism from Local Organizations

An agreement between Related Developers and a community organization that has gotten substantial support from an area councilman to support a job training and referral program draws criticism from some groups who feel left out.

"Andre Mitchell remembers the days when Spring Creek between Schenck Avenue and Fountain Avenue was a wasteland.

It was where the kids who couldn't afford summer camp went to play. Mitchell, one of eight children to a single mother in public housing, would ride his bike there, past the marshland and piles of illegally dumped trash.

Now the founder and director of Man Up!, an organization that seeks to empower young people and stop street violence, Mitchell sits in a new office on a new street in the middle of the former dump.

The office opened in May and belongs to East New York Restoration Local Development Corporation, where Mitchell is board chairman. The organization was created to oversee the fulfillment of a $3 million Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) negotiated four years ago with the developer of the Gateway Phase II project, Related Companies.

The CBA has become the subject of a contentious debate among community groups and City Council candidates. While supporters say the CBA will help East New York residents take advantage of the area's transformation, critics say too few community groups were included in the negotiations or stand to benefit from the agreement."

Full Story: Spring Creek Builder's Promises Spur Cheers, Jeers

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