Saturday, June 01, 2013

What's up with the Construction for a Livable City sign? It means Forest City Ratner (belatedly) committed to "community-friendly" practices

People walking along Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues in Prospect Heights might wonder about the Construction for a Livable city sign overseeing railyard work north of Pacific.

The sign indicates that Atlantic Yards project developer Forest City Ratner and its contractors are part of the New York Building Foundation's Construction for a Livable City Program, aimed "to encourage community-friendly construction site management practices."

Indeed, I hear that Forest City is doing better than in the past, though railyard work has caused vibrations and cracks in adjacent apartments.

But it should be noted that, in the rush to get the arena done and open by September 2012, the builders cut numerous corners regarding late-night noise, dust suppression, illegal parking, and following truck routes.

A report commissioned by Atlantic Yards Watch concluded that neither Forest City nor the state took complaints seriously enough and "the low probability of [workers] being caught creates little incentive to follow the protocols."

Forest City signs on

From an 11/5/12 press release:
Forest City Ratner and The Durst Organization have both joined the New York Building Foundation's Construction for a Livable City Program to encourage community-friendly construction site management practices.
Construction for a Livable City (CLC) is based on a checklist of twenty-seven common-sense practices that, when adopted by builders, can help lessen construction's impact on the surrounding community. For example, participants agree to maintain construction fences, sheds and other exterior elements; mitigate noise, dust and other pollutants; maintain open lines of communication with the public; and schedule truck deliveries and other work in a way that lessens their impact on residents and businesses.
...Forest City Ratner joins the program as an Underwriter, which gives the company an advisory role helping to refine the CLC checklist, bringing its expertise building large projects in diverse communities to bear, and allows it enroll up to five of its projects in the CLC program. Forest City recently completed work on the first phase of its Atlantic Yards project that featured printed artwork on construction fencing along its construction fence on Atlantic Avenue.
Frank J. Sciame, Jr., Chair of the CLC Task Force, said, "Forest City Ratner and The Durst Organization are helping to raise the bar for construction site quality. By adopting the CLC Checklist, these organizations are taking concrete steps to be a better neighbor and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers."
Note that putting artwork on construction fencing may make things more pleasant to look at, but does not make up for construction practices that disturb neighbors.

The checklist

Here's the CLC Checklist, aimed "to ensure well-managed, clean worksites that are responsive to the community." Each item gets a Yes or No.
OPERATIONS
  • Nuts, bolts and sharp objects (fencing, nails or broken structures) are properly protected, concealed or removed.
  • Public pathways are flat, fully supported and clear of obstructions and debris, including water or ice build-up.
  • Fencing and barriers are in a state of good repair and fully restrict public access to hazardous conditions.
  • Fencing and pathways are installed and maintained to encourage pedestrian and vehicular traffic flows.
  • Lighting is neatly wired, out of reach and provides bright nighttime light on pedestrian walkways and prevents glare from disturbing residential neighbors.
  • Site materials in common view are neatly stacked, protected and covered.
  • Signage is clear, legible, properly located and free from damage, dirt and graffiti.
  • Truck deliveries and equipment movements are supervised at all times to minimize duration and extent of pedestrian and vehicular traffic interruption.
  • Workforce is encouraged to implement and comply with the Checklist.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
  • All areas and surfaces are organized, neat, clean and free of damage, inappropriate signage and graffiti.
  • Strategies are implemented to reduce or shield the public from noise, vibration, dust and noxious substances.
  • Waste is removed throughout the working day and recycled.
  • Oils, paints and chemicals are properly stored; odors and runoff are contained.
  • Dumpsters are in good repair with contents and dust minimized.
  • Runoff water is properly routed, drained and free of waste and pollution.
  • Street trees, plants, sidewalk amenities and furniture are fully protected.
IMAGE AND DESIGN
  • Efforts have been made to improve the design and/or installation of overhead sheds and temporary structures to provide a safe, pleasant and attractive public way.
  • Temporary structures are simple, organized and consistent in material, shape, size and color.
  • Fencing, fascia and structures are painted or covered in a manner that considers surrounding structures.
  • Wood blocking at the base of sidewalk shed columns is minimized in use and limited to spreading structural bearing loads. Threaded pipe levelers are used wherever possible.
  • Barriers, gates, fencing and fascia surfaces, structural members and scrims are in good repair and free of damage and graffiti.
COMMUNITY RELATIONS
  • General information regarding the site and site contacts are posted and maintained for the community.
  • Updates for neighbors and the general public are encouraged and a process for sharing information and responding to concerns is in place.
  • Work is carried out with attention to the needs of the surrounding community, i.e. timing of loading/unloading, street closures, etc.
  • A standard of conduct of the workforce – especially with the public – should be encouraged and reinforced.
  • Provision of portable toilets should be sufficient, accessible and discreet.

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