Monday, January 30, 2012

Lingering questions: Where's the Barclays Center security plan? What precinct will be in charge? Who'll pay for traffic agents?

Local elected officials are still waiting to examine the security plan presumably prepared for the Barclays Center arena, but are not getting very far. No one knows yet which police precinct will be in charge of the arena.

And there's still no clarity on whether the developer would pay for traffic agents needed for the area.

In other words, as the opening of the Barclays Center approaches in September, some major questions remain unanswered, as was aired at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall with agencies and officials whose work touches on the project.

Cost of overtime

The issue came up near the end of the meeting. Council Member Letitia James asked about the cost of police overtime for arena events.

"As I understand it, I'm not saying this is exactly how it works," Marshall responded, "what other arenas and venues do is they have a contract with the city to retain off-duty police at the expense of the venue, and that's something that we're hoping to have the same accessibility to the Police Department, and it's part of our discussions with them."

What about NYPD traffic agents?

"Sometimes it's a negotiation," Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall responded. "But there are traffic agents, for example, for the construction of the project. They've been funded, most of them, by Forest City Ratner. "

"But when they've been typical, historical locations, we have not funded them," she continued. "The NYPD does that just as its course of business. But something related to an arena event, because of the event, we would be, in all cases I would think funding the TEA [traffic enforcement agent]. Now where they would actually go is a function of NYPD and DOT [Department of Transportation] decisionmaking."

"The arena is not expecting the city to shoulder the burden of overtime that's necessary from the police for an event," she added.

Actually, according to the 2009 Amended Memorandum of Financial Commitments Forest City signed with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the developer's obligations are fuzzy:
FCRC shall enter into discussions with NYCDOT to determine the extent of FCRC’s financial responsibility for the traffic enforcement agents (“TEAs”) required to manage traffic flow for major arena events and shall comply with the terms of any such agreement with NYCDOT as required by the DOT letter. If necessary to ensure that the TEAs are deployed for major arena events as described in the FEIS, and only in the event that FCRC and NYCDOT do not reach a funding agreement, FCRC shall provide such funding for TEAs as ESDC shall reasonably direct, considering funding arrangements at other sports and entertainment venues in New York City.
Where's the security plan?

James noted that, along with Council Members Brad Lander and Steve Levin, had requested a copy of the security plan from Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and to meet with him.

Last October, state Senator Velmanette Montgomery made a similar request. The arena will be very close to Atlantic Avenue, and officials since November 2007 have asked for a security study, once it was learned that a streets next to the Prudential Center in Newark were being closed. Forest City has hired its own security consultants.

After design changes in 2009, Forest City officials said they would meet with the New York Police Department--but only after the project had been re-approved by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Querying FCR

"Do you know whether the plan has been drafted, completed," she asked Marshall. "Is there a courtesy copy that we could be provided?"

"Council Member, I'm not aware--I know that we have been in discussion with NYPD, and I know that they're focusing on analyzing the manpower that's used and other things," responded Marshall. "I don't know that there's any plan that gets produced. I know there's a coordination and a protocol that's set up. And it changes on an ongoing basis. You don't have a plan, because the plan is different for every event.... It's all about protocol and communication."

She seemed to be focusing on the plan to deploy safety officers, not an overall security analysis, which presumably would state definitively whether streets would be closed, or the impact, perhaps, of narrow sidewalks.

Which precinct?

James didn't follow up, but moved on to a new question. She asked if one police precinct--of the three in the area including the project--would be put in charge.

"We'll have to talk to the NYPD about it," Marshall responded.

Captain John Breslin of the NYPD's Office of Management and Planning chimed in. "Currently there is extensive research on who's going to be policing the arena," he said. "That hasn't been signed off by the Police Commissioner. So we have gone into a review not only of crime, the population density, and... this is all done to try to figure out which precinct will be best served.... I'm sure as soon as the Police Commissioner signs off on it, you and all the other Council Members will be notified."

Before then, James said, she'd like Breslin to remind Kelly that local officials would like to meet with him.

Breslin said he would do so.

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