Friday, December 23, 2011

An open letter to the city's new Atlantic Yards sort-of-ombudsperson: when there are construction miscues, try to avoid saying "Sorry, it won't happen again"

Dear Ms. Lolita Jackson (Director of Special Projects at the NYC Office of the Mayor),

You've apparently just started working on Atlantic Yards issues as the city's new sort-of-ombudsperson, just as you've been doing on the Second Avenue Subway, as you say, "bring[ing] together city agencies to address quality of life issues for businesses and residents that are adjacent to large infrastructure/construction projects."

I hope you don't mind a bit of unsolicited advice.

You haven't had a chance to issue what has become a common mantra from both Forest City Ratner (FCR), the developer, and Empire State Development (ESD), the agency in charge:
Sorry, it won't happen again.
That's what FCR and ESD said after neighbors (via Atlantic Yards Watch) blew the whistle on generators that were making an infernal racket.

That's what ESD said--more or less; they later issued a letter--after neighbors (via Atlantic Yards Watch) cited widespread violations of truck routes.

That's what ESD said after neighbors (via Atlantic Yards Watch) showed how railyard flood lights were left on all night without warning.

That's what ESD said after neighbors (via Atlantic Yards Watch) spotted a contractor disposing of powder on Pacific Street.

You don't want to say it yourself, do you? Shouldn't the government--the representatives of the public--do better?

Shouldn't there be more of an effort to stave off such problems in the first place, or to penalize infractions?

Or is the developer really in charge?

You don't have to answer those questions--yet.

I'm sure you recognize that there are, indeed, quality of life issues adjacent to large construction projects. You do live near the Second Avenue Subway--a not dissimilar situation, in which a state agency is in charge but city agencies have important roles--and have been monitoring that construction.

I hope you can get some part-time office space in Brooklyn. Perhaps Arana Hankin, the ESD's Project Director, could join you. After all, the office used by Forrest Taylor, the ESD's former not-quite-ombudsperson, may be available; his successor hasn't been hired.

Welcome to Brooklyn and Atlantic Yards.

Regards,
Norman Oder
Atlantic Yards Report

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