Tuesday, February 25, 2014

After recurring complaints about circus load-in, errant trucks, Forest City, arena operators say they're trying; still no clarity on uses for arena "pad"

Confronted with some untoward neighborhood impacts, the message from Barclays Center operators was again "we're trying," though there are no apparent internal or external sanctions.

From Atlantic Yards Watch
Take the example of circus trailers blocking nearby streets, including a bus stop on Atlantic Avenue near the arena, last Thursday, on the day the circus came to the Barclays Center for an 11-day stint.

Speaking at a meeting last night of the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee, which meets about every two months to discuss project-related issues, arena Community Relations Manager Terence Kelly said "
bad weather compounded an already large-scale operation" that involved a 40-hour load-in.

"We certainly did our best to remedy the situation," he said. "We take it seriously, and we really do want to operate in good faith and keep those clear and not keep them an ongoing and persistent problem."

Jim Vogel, a Pacific Street resident and staffer for state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery, was not placated. "This is not the first time we've had load-in problems," he said. "We don't have to wait for this to be a problem pattern that's repeating, it's already repeating."

He reminded Kelly that the arena had once touted a "coordinated structure" to avoid such problems. "We haven't seen it," he said.

"Noted, he replied.

Living on the "pad"

Dean Street resident Peter Krashes noted that, according to a Ringling Brothers staffer, circus performers were living in trailers on the "pad," the surface space just east of the arena, sandwiched between the site for the B3 tower, which currently contains bike parking.

"The pad has been an unpleasant fixture, and an unexpected fixture for the community," Krashes said. Last May, when complaints were raised about performers living on the pad, Arana Hankin, then Atlantic Yards project director for Empire State Development, said she'd look into it, but there was no follow up.

AYR photo 2/23/14
"I can tell you, we want to see those things minimized," said Krashes. "I think it might be against the law."

"We’ll look into it," responded Paula Roy, who succeeded Hankin. "I'm not aware it's breaking any requirements. Whether there's a list of specific uses for the pad, I'm not aware of that."

"I can tell you it is illegal," Vogel asserted. "More to the point, I'm disturbed by your answer, because it's something we've seen before... The line keeps getting pushed back... We were told that the pad would only be used for load-ins, period, and only when necessary, only when there was overflow."

Forest City Ratner Chief of Staff Ashley Cotton noted that the pad was surface space required by the National Basketball Association to stage a bus during NBA games.

"Then we tried to use it, with no idling," she said, "to make sure, if there is an overflow use of some sort, we might as well keep it on our property, right? We don't want to take up up public space." 

She said Forest City similarly used the satellite uplink parking lot across Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific Streets. While it's designated for TV trucks, it also accommodates overflow uses. "We're trying to use the property we control."

"The pad stays, it's a requirement of the NBA," she said. "It will get enclosed by B3."

Krashes suggested there was some mission creep regarding both spaces, noting that the pad also seems to be used for staff and VIP parking. "We see a wide range of people parking there," he said. "It was not anticipated, not explained."

"I think Paula and I should regroup and make sure that the pad rules of the road" are clear, Cotton said. "We have used it to keep uses on our property."

Errant trucks

Atlantic Yards Watch photo
Wayne Bailey, a representative of the Newswalk building, reminded Forest City that--as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch--some trucks making modular deliveries at the B2 site have continued east on Dean Street rather than turning left on Sixth Avenue to Atlantic Avenue.

Cotton said they've done everything they can to remind drivers, such as signs.

Another resident noted, "I stop the trucks sometimes and ask them... They tell me they have no instruction from the loading dock."

Kelly observed that, with the B2 construction fence forcing traffic on Dean eastbound from Flatbush avenue into one lane, "there's a smaller margin of error than typical for any arena in the country."

While he said he understood that there may be truck drivers who say they weren't instructed, but "it's not to the best effort of people who work in the building and security guards on the pad. I speak with them on a regular basis.:

"I think year after year we've improved and show after show we've improved," he said.

And that, as typical, left it all up in the air.

Other issues

Also at the meeting was a report on efforts to limit bass escaping from the arena. I'll write later about a report that indicates that, on Nets game days at least, traffic isn't as bad as once feared.

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