Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin: project remains on schedule (despite trending slower), trucking procedures "a work in progress" (despite continued violations)

After the cordial but not very productive community meeting on Atlantic Yards Monday with underinformed Empire State Development (ESD) CEO Kenneth Adams, I approached him and Atlantic Yards Project Director Arana Hankin with a few follow-up questions.

Adams listened briefly, but cordially--and not without reason--begged off to greet some of the elected officials who, after all, are his bosses.

The arena schedule

I asked Hankin if the arena was on schedule, given the efforts at expensive after-hours work, unresolved discrepancies reported by a construction monitor, and, as discussed at the meeting with Adams, talk of a "recovery schedule," a construction term used to specific accelerated work.

"There’s not a recovery schedule for the arena," Hankin said. "The schedule is constantly morphing, based on weather conditions."

Are they ahead?

"They’re on schedule," Hankin responded.

"Is that trending?" I asked.

"It’s pretty constant that they’ve been on schedule," Hankin responded.

I pointed to the report, by Merritt & Harris, the consultant to the arena bond trustee, that suggested it was trending more slowly.



"Because of Hurricane Irene," Hankin said.

I pointed out that the trend began before Hurricane Irene. (Actually, that latest report concerned the month before the hurricane.)

"There’s always things that come up on the site," Hankin said.

Will there be more third-shift work?

"It’s possible, if there’s really bad weather for months on end," Hankin said.


Community impacts

Given that Forest City Ratner now has a hard deadline of September 2012 to open the arena, I suggested that community impacts come more into focus.

After all, at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting on September 22, a Forest City Ratner executive said revamped trucking procedures were "very effective" in reducing the number of trucks inappropriately idling on a residential block--but that it wasn't working at all, as documented by Atlantic Yards Watch, again and again.

(For example, in this screenshot from a video taken that morning from Pacific Street looking west, the empty truck in the foreground is illegally parked, and the tractor-trailer in the intersection, poised to go into the arena site but not flagged in, is causing southbound traffic on Sixth Avenue to veer left into the northbound lane.)

“Like I’ve always said, it’s a work in progress," Hankin responded, repeating her mantra. "We constantly nag Forest City Ratner every day to make sure that they improve their game and modify their plan. They’ve already changed the way they manage the trucks at least five times.”

I asked about the first-ever "notice of violation" sent about a month ago to Forest City, giving them 30 days to comply with the state's Memorandum of Environmental Commitments. What did the developer say?

“They said they’re amending the truck rules and regs again,” Hankin said.

It still hasn't been working, I pointed out.

"Like I said, it’s a work in progress," Hankin responded.

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