Skip to main content

After Bieber-related chaos, cops say they'll have a better plan for crowds; frustration remains over black cars plaguing neighborhood streets; enforcement vs. free parking?

The chaos around the Justin Bieber concert two nights ago--fans gathering outside the Barclays Center in the afternoon and chasing a bus down Dean Street in the evening--was an "anomaly," declared the commanding officer of the 78th Precinct, who promised that police would have a better plan in place to tamp down on boisterous fans.

(Video by Peter Krashes, via Atlantic Yards Watch)

However, Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri (recently promoted from Captain) acknowledged that there's still no solution to the problem of black cars and limos, which plague streets around the arena when there are special events (less so for Nets games).

While an "experiment" is planned to give them a place, the problem derives from an inherent tension in the Transportation Demand Management plan prepared by arena consultant Sam Schwartz and accepted by Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the arena.

That plan states that the solution is "enforcement," but they apparently didn't consult with the NYPD, which is reluctant to devote resources to that effort and thinks education is the solution.

“Make them go to the parking lots or give them huge fines,” one resident suggested at the meeting last night of the 78th Precinct Community Council, in what might be seen as a common-sense solution but one not promoted either by the police or arena management.

Meanwhile, neither the police nor an arena spokesman responded clearly to a question asking for a comparison between the numbers of personnel devoted to arena events when it opened and the numbers now.

Loading dock progress

Barclays Center Community Relations Manager Terence Kelly reported progress on issues raised at the 10/16/12 Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting.

Regarding the loading dock on Dean Street, “we’ve been working with our internal security and arena operations... to educate a lot of security to make sure a lot of protocols that have been are acted on every single day for every single delivery,” he said.

Aiming to coordinate with the staging area at Navy Yard so trucks are not idling on Dean Street, he said, “we've been rather successful, I’ve got to say, in terms of slowly getting better,” though he acknowledged “there's certainly room for improvement.”

Or not

Kelly got an immediate response from Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association, who pointed out that, on the previous night after the Justin Bieber concert, two trucks had queued outside the arena on residential Dean Street, with one idling for half an hour, “so problems continue.”

“Unfortunately, there was a lapse in communications,” Kelly responded, adding that “I'd object to a half-hour” characterization. “It was something we certainly want to improve on.”

Indeed, after the meeting, I walked over to Dean Street with Krashes and we saw a delivery truck idling for about ten minutes, first on the curb, then outside the loading dock, sticking out over the sidewalk.

Also, parked in a “No Standing” zone was a bus, which, before the Brooklyn Nets game ended, turned on its engine and, a minute or two later, accommodated a dozen well-dressed people, who had to walk out into the street to enter the bus from the right side.

Kelly noted that the arena has hired a new director of security after the previous one left, which should help improve protocols.

Limo parking problems

One resident asked if drivers are being aware of parking availability, given that some drivers on residential streets apparently don’t know of the options.

Kelly said the operator of the surface lot has placed larger signs on Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, and “there's been more active use of the parking lot.” (Indeed, it was nearly full for the Bieber concert.) Still, he noted, the arena is stressing public transportation.

Regarding black car parking, he said, “if anyone wants to pay for parking on the site itself, they're more than welcome to... We're working with Inspector Ameri and DOT [Department of Transportation] and TLC [Taxi and Limousine Commission]. We're in talks about offering whatever we can to educate drivers about staying off side streets and residential streets.”

Precinct Council President Pauline Blake said she saw such cars parked “all over” Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Flatbush avenues. “Tthe issue still exists,” she said, “as far as these cars not adhering to any rules or regulations.”

NYPD perspective

“Black cars are a problem,” Ameri acknowledged, saying it’s a bigger issue for one-time events, such as the Barbra Streisand and Bieber shows, less so for Nets games. “Those are the events we really have to work on go get a place to stage these black cars,” he said, adding “we're looking to stage the black cars offsite.”

One resident asked a natural question: why can’t the limos simply go to the surface parking lot.

“Black cars aren't going to pay for parking,” Ameri responded. (Wouldn’t they do so if the alternative were paying a fine?)

Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council raised an issue already floated on Atlantic Yards Watch: “we've been told by Empire State Development Corporation and from DOT [Department of Transportation], via our local City Council person, that there's a plan being implemented to have black cars stage between Sixth and Vanderbilt.”

Ameri acknowledged “we are experimenting” with doing that.

Veconi asked about the role of arena traffic consultant Sam Schwartz. “We hear that you're not encouraging people to drive,” he said. “I do not understanding how giving over public space on Atlantic Avenue is a discouragement for people to drive. I'd like to see Sam Schwartz explain... because it's clearly a miss in the TDM.”

Kelly said Schwartz is “certainly in these conversations, yes.”

How, asked Veconi, would the parked cars pick up passengers.

“The goal is just to leave them on Atlantic,” Ameri said, and have patrons walk to the cars. Or they could make a U-turn on Atlantic Avenue at Vanderbilt.

A simple solution?

One resident asked why the black car issue wasn't anticipated and why the arena can’t provide parking space for black cars.

Kelly said that, with only two months on the job, he couldn’t speak to why it wasn't addressed, but said he’d “do everything in my power” to find common-sense solutions.

“It was included,” piped up Newswalk resident Wayne Bailey. “It was enforcement.” Indeed, it was; apparently the police were not consulted.

The plan to offer space on Atlantic, suggested Veconi, is just giving limo drivers free parking.

Bieber-related tumult on Dean Street

It was funny, but not so funny. Dean Street resident Tracy Collins pointed out that, after the Justin Bieber concert, the “tour bus came down Dean Street, followed by hundreds of screaming teen girls.”

Ameri raised his eyebrows; several people laughed. “It was funny, but kind of dangerous,” Collins observed.

“Live and learn,” Ameri said, acknowledging that, while the police had handled other high-profile events at the arena smoothly, this was different.

In hindsight, he said, the police could’ve planned differently, either having the bus go a different route, or have pens set up to limit fan activity. “I had teenagers running in front of a large tour bus,” he said. “Thank God nobody got hurt. I apologize for the quality of life that it impacted on Dean Street. So next time Justin Bieber comes into town, I'll have a better plan. I was confident in my Jay-Z plan.”

Fewer police and security personnel?

Krashes suggested the problem was related to “a significant reduction in numbers of police and Barclays security.” For example, on the previous night, a T-shirt seller was planted on Dean Street.

Regarding the reduction of police and security personnel, he asked for a comparison between the numbers for the Justin Bieber concert and the Jay-Z concert.

Ameri didn’t quite answer: “Well, I had plenty of officers there last night... it was just the way we handled it, when it came to the crowd. I didn't expect all those teenagers at the Dean Street end of it at 2 o'clock in the afternoon... or thousands of them, hanging around afterward... Last night was an anomaly.”

Kelly responded, “Regardless of the contract with Securitas [the former security company], there’s been no reduction in numbers.” He said the arena would try to better anticipate “situations like this.”

ESD take

Derek Lynch, ESD's Community Relations Manager, said "we take these issues very seriously," including limo parking, vibrations from concerts, and flashing lights from the oculus.

"We haven't solved all your problems, but we're definitely moving in the right direction," he said.

And while we "appreciate their service," he said of Atlantic Yards Watch, he encouraged people to reach out directly to ESD.

Tailgating

Bailey said residents of his building wanted clarification on whether tailgating is allowed, as several noticed people attending the last college basketball event to be tailgating at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue.

"There's no policy, there's zero tolerance," Ameri said. One officer said six or seven summonses were issued for drinking in public."

Changes on Carlton

Several residents pointed to an impact from the opening of the arena, the reopening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge, and congestion on Flatbush Avenue: Carlton Avenue has become a shortcut, including for dollar vans, and many drivers ignore both speed limits and stop signs at St. Marks Avenue and Prospect Place.

“I'm going to dedicate some resources to that location,” Ameri responded.

Related is gridlock at St. Marks and Flatbush during rush hours, making it difficult to cross the street using the crosswalks.

The proliferation of bars

Noting the proliferation of bars in the area, Blake observed, "We will accept the bars we have on Fifth Avenue compared to the bars we had 20 years ago."

Still, she suggested that the State Liquor Authority has enabled a "serious problem," given the proliferation of liquor licenses along Flatbush, Fifth, Seventh, and St. Marks Avenues.

"We have to realize that it is here," she said of the arena and its spillover effects. "We have to fight hard to make sure they maintain quality of life that we can live with."

Urination near arena

Referring to reports that arena-goers had been urinating nearby on the street, notably on Pacific Street between Flatbush and Fourth avenues, Kelly said an arena security guard and a police officer had been patrolling one hour before events through one hour after events. 

Also, Modell's has been asked to do more washing of its site; the store is planning to install more lights, a project that was delayed because of the storm.

Who pays?

As the meeting closed down, one resident asked an innocent question: "Are we paying for these [increased] police, or is the Barclays Center paying extra money?"

She didn't get an official answer, but the mutters from the better-informed crowd were clear: "We pay." (Another resident muttered that ESD's Lynch should answer.)

Indeed, the issue came up last June, as I reported. Community Board 2 Chair John Dew asked, “In this particular instance, is there an opportunity to bill back to Forest City Ratner?”

“The answer is no,” replied FCR’s Ashley Cotton at the time. Just as with new housing being built on Flatbush Avenue, said Cotton, a former city official, “the city has to adjust... The arena is not alone in adding new work to the city.”

Overall crime down

Overall crime in the precinct is down, Ameri said last night, though there’s have been “some issues” in the last month with robberies and grand larcenies. The increase is not related to the arena, given that most reports are toward the southwest portion of the precinct in the South Slope.

He acknowledged, however, that the precinct “inherited” some non-violent crime from the Atlantic Center and Atlantic Terminal malls, now within the boundaries.

Next meeting

While representatives of several city agencies were expected to attend the Precinct Council meeting as scheduled for Oct. 30, the Sandy-related delay meant they couldn’t return last night.

Because the October meeting was delayed, there will be no Precinct Council meeting in November. The December meeting is typically skipped, so the next meeting will be 1/29/12, the last Tuesday of the month.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…