Friday, August 28, 2009

Who's cleaning up Pacific Street blight? Forest City Ratner

Way back in November 2006, several people commented to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) in response to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, saying the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) should be blamed for failing to take care of the MTA's Vanderbilt Yard. (More here.)

In response, the ESDC punted, ignoring the question of responsibility:
Chapter 1, “Project Description,” and Chapter 3, “Land Use, Zoning, and Public Policy,” describe in detail the present condition of the project site, including the Vanderbilt Yard.

More clean-up

In September 2007, some AY opponents bushwhacked a clean-up along Pacific Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

Last Saturday, when I took a tour group around Prospect Heights, that stretch of Pacific Street looked pretty trim. But the stretch between Sixth and Carlton avenues looked pretty messy, even though a large residential building, Newswalk, occupies most of the street opposite it.

Now, however, it's been cleaned up, as the sequence of photos below shows. And who's responsible for removing this Pacific Street blight? As the name on the blue car indicates, Commons Associates of MetroTech Center--an organization led by Forest City Ratner.

They're not really in charge of the sidewalks, are they? But if they take a hint from the city or state to perform the clean-up, that suggests that the city or state could have nudged someone else well before the AY environmental review. (See Comment below for the back story of how the City and MTA punted until a resident complained to FCR.)





3 comments:

  1. Backstory: This was a real mess for most of the summer--even harboring actual, not proverbial, rats' nests. Residents of Newswalk complained repeatedly to both the MTA and the City about the weeds on this block and each said the other was responsible. Finally a Newswalk resident called the reopened AY liaison office (asking, among other things, whether Ratner really needed to piss off even more people around the footprint than he already has?) and the cleanup crew showed up the next day.

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  2. A Newswalk resident offers this bit of history:

    "In the early days of Newswalk the sidewalk on the MTA side had very nice shrubbery planted and the city was to keep it that way.... then when the city reneged, residents of Newswalk helped maintain it but I guess when ESDC/FCRC/NYC decided that the yards were blighted there was no reason to maintain the area any longer..... The ESDC/FCRC/NYC should be made to return
    it to its original state and maintain it...."

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  3. I beg to differ with Michael Rogers'"bit of history" on Newswalk developer Shaya Boymelgreen's "very nice shrubbery"-- planted on Pacific St.(Carlton to 6th Ave.) and Carlton (Pacific to Dean) about 7 years ago. Boymelgreen's first mistake was to choose the wrong plants -- high-maintenance, slow-growing, none-shading cedars -- trees that could not tolerate the desertlike tree-pit conditions they were subjected to on the street. Boymelgreen's second mistake: no maintenance following planting -- just the usual developer-neglect. Within a year the green trees began to brown-off and die: lacking water and overwhelmed/out-competed by weeds, including the deadly ganglionic parasite, dodder (genus Cuscuta) plus tons of trash -- the MTA's responsibility but never once (in my 30yrs. observation-by-dog-walk) unblighted, cleaned out, carted. Of some 100 cedars planted at great expense -- about 3 have survived -- on Carlton Ave. Wrong plant, wrong place -- waste of trees & money. -- Patti Hagan

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