Sunday, October 16, 2011

ESD CEO Adams, in online Q&A, takes two Atlantic Yards questions, offers predictable answers

Well, Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams took two pre-submitted Atlantic Yards questions yesterday in an online Q&A via the Governor's CitizenConnects web site.

His answers, surely composed with the help of staffers, were predictable, and not very forthcoming.

Extended construction no worse

Q. Do you agree with ESDC’s December 2010 argument that 25 years of construction is no worse for the local community than 10 years?

A. I do agree because the impacts of construction are more severe when there are multiple buildings under construction at one time. If only one building is constructed at a time, or if there are gaps between construction, the level of noise will not be as great on the site, there will be less trucks traveling to the site and there will be overall less disruption in the area. A more condensed schedule over a shorter period of time will have more severe impacts to the local community.

By contrast, state Supreme Court Justice Marcy Friedman, in her July ruling calling for the agency to conduct a study of the impact of 25 years of construction, disagreed:
The conclusion in the Technical Analysis that an extended delay to 2035 would not have significant adverse environmental impacts that were not addressed in the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] is, in turn, based on the repeated assertions that the delay in the build-out would result in prolonged but less “intense” construction, and that most environmental impacts are driven by intensity rather than duration.

The Technical Analysis, which was prepared with marked speed in the month after the remand, does not support these findings with any technical studies on the effects of significantly prolonged construction on various areas of environmental concern. Rather, it appears to take the position that it is a matter of common sense that less intense construction will result in lower impacts for conditions such as traffic, noise, and air quality.

Even assuming arguendo that ESDC’s common sense assumption is correct, under established standards for environmental impact analysis, the duration of construction activities is a factor that is required to be taken into account in assessing the impacts on both environmental conditions such as traffic, noise, and air quality, which are amenable to quantitative analysis, and conditions such as neighborhood character, open space, and socioeconomic conditions, which are largely subject to qualitative analysis.
Why appeal court decision?

Q. Why is your agency appealing a July New York State Supreme Court decision ordering ESDC to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement analyzing the effects of the 2009 modified Atlantic Yards plan on the surrounding neighborhoods?

A. ESD strongly believes that it has complied with all relevant laws, and that is why we have appealed Justice Friedman’s decision.

This echoes an ESD statement made last month.

A few softballs

Adams allotted Atlantic Yards two of 21 questions, which may sound like a healthy percentage, though the list of 21 included softballs such as:
Q. You'er doing a great job so fall, how do you propose to keep up your momentum and continue to restore integrity to Albany?

A. As Gov. Cuomo says, we need to rebuild state government on the principles of performance, integrity and pride. Thanks to his leadership, NY is once again leading the way with competence, and as a result, the confidence in NY is growing rapidly. By passing an on-time and balanced budget without any new taxes, a property tax cap, ethics reform, Recharge NY, SUNY2020, and other vital pieces of historic legislation, NY is well on its way to restoring its reputation as the Empire State. We will leverage these achievements as the pillars of reform and recovery to attract business growth, restore our competitive edge, and get New York working again.

My posted question went unanswered

Q. At a community meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall on Sept. 26, Mr. Adams was asked if he had seen AtlanticYardsWatch.net, which archives a steady series of community complaints about Atlantic Yards construction impacts. He said no, but he would check it out. I'm interested to know if he has checked it out, and to what extent he's concerned about further mitigating those impacts.

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