Tuesday, January 10, 2012

After vandalism of street sign, a replacement installed, but no concrete response by NYPD and FCR; ESD would like FCR to put in place new measures

So, after a driver and construction worker--quite likely working at Atlantic Yards, but that's not confirmed--uprooted a "No Standing" sign on Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues on January 6, what's the aftermath?

No concrete action--other than the installation of a replacement sign, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch--and a lot of questions.

First, the New York Police Department, which presumably had the driver's license number, has not issued a statement, and I have not received a response to an inquiry posed yesterday afternoon.

State and FCR response

Are there any measures Empire State Development (ESD) can or will take regarding this, I asked Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, for ESD, the state agency overseeing the project.

"ESD does not condone this behavior and will request that FCR [Forest City Ratner] take disciplinary action with this particular worker and put in place measures to prevent it from happening again," Hankin responded.

FCR, however, is not there yet, perhaps because the identity of the worker and his association with the project has not been publicly confirmed. Spokesman Joe DePlasco said that "our response to that was that the information and video should be shared with the police."

(He was a little more expansive when asked by The Local about a more whimsical incident that occurred on site, a worker adding some Yuletide graffiti: "“It is inappropriate to write anything that is not authorized on a construction site." The worker was reprimanded.)

Last July, when confronted with more widespread parking violations, FCR executive Maryanne Gilmartin, with a slight edge in her voice, responded by saying, "We're going to work on the enforcement approach. We believe with a proper enforcement initiative, we can deal with the problem."

On-street parking and FCR-provided parking

Has the incident caused ESD to rethink the real amount of available on-street parking?

"This incident does not affect our position on available on-street parking," Hankin responded.

By ESD's calculations, there's more than enough parking in the area. Still, it seems like drivers will bend the rules to park in the most convenient site.

And there are some confusing aspects to the state's calculations.

Doing the math

According to Chapter 17 of the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), Construction Impacts (p. 17-40), the state assumed that 55% of the workers, as at the Marriott Hotel construction project in Downtown Brooklyn, would travel to the site via auto, with an average vehicle-occupancy of 1.9--and the incentive to drive by receiving a $10 parking subsidy.

So planners proceeded with the assumption of 55% and 1.9 workers per car, a "conservative" assumption because a larger project offers more opportunities to carpool and there would be no subsidized parking.

Right now, Hankin said, the number of current workers per shift is "in the mid 500s." (I'll call that 550.)

ESD assumes that there are 150 on-street parking spaces, plus 90 spaces provided by Forest City. (Note: neighborhood residents tell me that those spaces appear to be free.)

"At this point there is sufficient on-site free spaces to prevent the need to inform the workers to seek parking elsewhere," Hankin said. "The trigger would be either the loss of the available on-site free spaces, or a substantial addition of workers."

The mystery remains

Indeed, if you do the math, a 55% split means that 302.5 workers come by car. At 1.9 workers per car, that's 159.2 cars. That should leave more than enough parking, by the state's calculations.

However, something's off. Maybe it's that the 90 spaces on site are free--or subsidized--thus providing more incentive to drive than the "conservative" assumptions.

Maybe it's that workers really, really want to park within a few strides of the work site.

And maybe, to follow Gilmartin's suggestion, the police still need to step up.

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