Tuesday, August 20, 2013

As VMAs approach, neighbors express confusion and concern about "concert-loud" noise on corner, access to their street; MTV/NYPD information not in sync, no MTV contact person

Prospect Heights residents living close to the Barclays Center are worried and wary about the upcoming MTV Video Music Awards 8-11 pm Sunday, which will use their neighborhood for a pre-show "Red Carpet" with concert-level noise and set up a confusing cordon aimed to keep groupies out but let residents in.

Trucks staged this morning on Pacific Street between
Carlton & Vanderbilt Avenues, presumably for VMAs
The complex, hugely promoted event, some 11 months after the area opened, comes after a series of headaches for locals, including leaking concert bass that shakes their homes, post-event vandalism that has left car windows keyed or broken, excess trash untouched by a noisy late-night sweeper, and police tactics that immobilize resident kids on the corner when post-event arena procedures (like the escorted escape of Justin Bieber) have priority.

Moreover, no MTV or city representatives have been willing to attend a public meeting (though an MTV rep did go to a small invite-only one), and information released has been incomplete and confusing.

While an unsigned MTV letter distributed last month, and another distributed yesterday (below) provided some details, many of the 35 residents at the Dean Street Block Association meeting last night expressed surprise at what was not disclosed.

Also, though arena Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly several times deferred to the NYPD, [updated and corrected] which was not invited, the 78th Precinct Community Council last night circulated information that augmented or contradicted details in the MTV letter.

[Updated: The invitation was sent to MTV and the City's Office of Broadcasting, with CCs to the arena, NYPD and others. Yes, it was very little lead time, but MTV and the city have avoided previous meetings.]

Moreover, locals have not been provided a named MTV contact person, as seems to be required.

"Concert-loud" noise and a bad precedent

When queried, Kelly's acknowledged that the "Red Carpet" event from 8-9 pm Sunday--and the dress rehearsal at the same time the night before--would have "concert-loud" noise at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue. (Bike parking at that corner has been temporarily removed.)

Had such information about noise been shared earlier, commented Sixth Avenue resident Taniya Gunasekara, "I might have made other arrangements," given that her toddler goes to sleep at 7 pm. "I do feel the community was underserved."

Jimmy Greenfield, owner of the Soapbox Gallery on Dean Street, suggested that the treatment of the community was a bad precedent, given that the Barclays Center is likely to have future high profile events.

"The amount of money the Barclays Center is making is so astronomical," he said, suggesting that some share could be used to work better with neighbors.

"Basically, we don't matter to them--it's business," added another resident. Another pointed out that discount $75 tickets to the event--offered last month but now unavailable--was "not a compensation."

History of noise problems

Gunasekara, who lives just a few doors down from the arena block, said concert noise from arena performances regularly penetrates her apartment when the arena loading dock is left open. "When you keep the garage door open, we can't sleep," she told Kelly. "Is it going to be open or closed?"

Kelly said it would be closed, and it was the first time he was hearing that complaint.

After Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, pointed out that sound permits for block parties are supposed to indicate the radius of expected impact, and asked what the radius would be in this case. Kelly said he didn't know.

"I want to know if it's going to shake my house," said one Carlton Avenue resident, who said that was a regular occurrence.

"Does the arena have a timetable as to when [leaking bass] is going to stop?" Krashes asked.

"I don't know the answer," Kelly replied.

Access to the neighborhood

Residents had many questions about how they and guests would be able to get in and out of their homes over the weekend, and the information provided .

The MTV document states:
There will will be unrestricted access to public sidewalks on streets closed to vehicle traffic, with a small restricted zone on 6th Avenue between Atlantic & Dean, and Dean Street between Flatbush & 6th Avenue.
The information circulated by the 78th Precinct Community Council, however, does not describe "unrestricted access" on Sunday, but says residents must show ID on 6th Avenue (Atlantic Avenue to Dean Street), Pacific Street (6th Avenue to Carlton Avenue), and Dean Street (Flatbush Avenue to Carlton Avenue).

Last night, Kelly indicated that a different level of restrictions--"credentials" to be distributed at some unspecified time--would apply to residents of Dean Street between Flatbush and Sixth avenues opposite the arena, and on Sixth Avenue between Bergen and Dean streets. The information is not confirmed in either the 78th Precinct info nor the MTV document.

Nor was it clear that residents of Dean east of Sixth Avenue would have to show ID. Kelly said there'd be a "soft checkpoint" at Dean and Carlton, so as to ensure egress for fire vehicles, but "all residents will receive unrestricted access."

What if some 3000 people hoping for a look at Lady Gaga and other stars want to gather on Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton avenues, asked one resident. (Various extras, part of the outdoor extravaganza, will be staged in the HPD parking lot on that block.)

"I think there's crowd control measures," said Kelly, again deferring to the 78th Precinct.

While both documents disclose the closure of Sixth Avenue,  Pacific Street (6th Avenue to Carlton Avenue)  and Dean Street (Flatbush Avenue to Carlton Avenue) on Sunday, only the Precinct Council document adds that Pacific Street (4th Avenue to Flatbush Avenue) will be closed beginning at 2 pm Sunday.

Pacific Street between Sixth and Carlton and Dean between Flatbush and Carlton will be closed Saturday from 7 am, according to the MTV letter, but in the July letter were said to be open all day Saturday.

One lessening of restrictions is that Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues will not be closed Sunday, as previously planned.

Limos on Dean?

Krashes indicated that he'd heard second hand that limousines might be coming west on Dean Street--the street is otherwise one-way eastbound--to bring celebrities to the red carpet, thus freezing traffic.

Kelly said "I can't confirm" that. (I'll read that as likely.)

Would streets and sidewalks be "frozen", asked Krashes.

"It is very possible," Kelly said.

More details, more questions

So, where will the fans and paparazzi go? Viewing pens will be set up on Pacific Street at Flatbush Avenue; Flatbush Avenue between Fifth Avenue & Dean Street; and the plaza on Atlantic Avenue in front of Target.

Beginning at 2 pm Sunday, the sidewalk on the perimeter of Barclays Center will close, though the subway exit into the plaza will remain open.

Residents who are losing access to street parking had until yesterday to apply for a pass to use the Barclays Center lot (between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues and Dean and Pacific streets), though Kelly said he'd help ensure that anyone who needed a space would get access.

MTV will clean up streets closed for event activity.

Lack of disclosure a violation?

Krashes noted that, when tv/movie crews get permits, they must provide contact information for a location manager, within 48 hours of the event, and asked if another flier from MTV with such information is coming. (After all, the base camp has already been established.)

Krashes pointed to this city document:

Kelly said he didn't know. (Does it not apply to the event? It is broadcasting.)

"We've been asking these questions for a really long time," Krashes said when . "Now we're asked to contact an [MTV] email address [without a name]. This is really frustrating."

Construction activities start tonight

Tonight, beginning at 7 pm and lasting as late as midnight, two backup generators (on top of five already placed) will be moved to the B4 site below grade at the northeast corner of the arena block, with railyard lights illuminating the work. Last week, there was no warning of such lighting.

Outdoor set construction will occur Wednesday, 7 am to 7pm, Thursday, 8 am to 7 pm, Friday, 8 am to midnight, Saturday, 10 am to 9 pm, and Sunday, 9 pm to "overnight," which Kelly said "should not take more than several hours." Residents interpreted that as significant overnight disruption.

Relocating a church but not people

The Temple of Restoration, which operates on Dean Street between Sixth and Carlton, has been relocated by MTV to another location. (Unmentioned was that one church member is Sam Pierre, North Brooklyn director of the mayor's Community Assistance Unit, which makes it more likely the church gets its interests heard.)

"How many of you guys would like to go to a hotel [paid by MTV] Friday night?" Krashes asked, with playful provocation.

Several residents assented.

Information via 78th Precinct Community Council

Friday, August 23rd
• Set construction - 8:00 am - 12:00 am midnight
• Street closure 6th Avenue (Atlantic Avenue to Dean Street) 12:00 pm - MONDAY, 8/26 12:00 am midnight - WILL PERIODICALLY INCLUDE PEDESTRIANS

Saturday, August 24th
• Set construction activity - 10:00 am - 9:00 pm
• Street closure 6th Avenue (Atlantic Avenue to Dean Street) ALL DAY - WILL PERIODICALLY INCLUDE PEDESTRIANS
• Street closure Pacific Street (6th Avenue to Carlton Avenue) 7:00 am - MONDAY, 8/26 12:00 am midnight
• Street closure Dean Street (Flatbush Avenue to Carlton Avenue) 7:00 am - MONDAY, 8/26 12:00 am midnight
• Red Carpet rehearsals with crew (no celebrities) 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm
• MTA Bus re-routed - B45 (Dean Street) will, be re-routed around street closure TBD

Sunday, August 25th
• Street closure 6th Avenue (Atlantic Avenue to Dean Street) ALL DAY - INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS (Residents must show ID)
• Street closure Pacific Street (6th Avenue to Carlton Avenue) ALL DAY - INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS (Residents must show ID)
• Street closure Dean Street (Flatbush Avenue to Carlton Avenue) ALL DAY - INCLUDING PEDESTRIANS (Residents must show ID)
• Street closure Pacific Street (4th Avenue to Flatbush Avenue) 2:00 pm - MONDAY, 8/26 12:00 am midnight
• MTA Bus re-routed - B45 (Dean Street) will, be re-routed around street closure TBD
• MTA Bus bypass Barcays Center stops (B41 & B67 will bypass Barclays Flatbush Avenue stops and B45 will bypass Barclays Atlantic Avenue stops) times TBD
• Sidewalk closure of perimeter of Barclays Center (including partial closure of plaza - subway exit into plaza will remain open) 2:00 pm - MONDAY, 8/26 12:00 am midnight

• Traffic will remain open on Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.
• Viewer pens may be set up on Pacific Street at Flatbush Avenue; Flatbush Avenue between 5th Avenue & Dean Street; and the plaza in front of Target.
• Barclays Center subway access will remain open.
• Variable Message Signs (VMS) will be installed on local arterial roads and significant intersections
• The Dean Street Park playground will be closed, however the basketball tournament will proceed with access from Bergen Street.



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