Thursday, February 20, 2014

ESD down the rabbit hole: Barclays Center bass may penetrate apartments, but it's a "background condition" not to be analyzed

The revamped Atlantic Yards arena--a design never evaluated in any environmental review--has slipped through the cracks again, as Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project, disavows any responsibility for noise escaping from the Barclays Center.

The issue came up in a comment to ESD on the Draft Scope of Work for a court-ordered Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement to assess the impacts of the second phase of Atlantic Yards, which could last 25 years.

The comment:
Comment 63: The 2006 FEIS did not study the arena itself as a source of noise. In 2009, Frank Gehry's arena design was replaced with an arena designed jointly by Ellerbe Becket and SHoP Architects. Since the time of the arena opening, numerous residents circling the arena have complained about bass noise entering their homes during bass-heavy concerts. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection has issued a violation to the arena operators for concert noise escaping the arena. The SEIS should assess noise and land use impacts on existing and future residents as a product of concert noise emanating from the arena building. (Brooklyn Speaks)
The response:
Response: As described on page 2 of the Draft Scope of Work, the Draft SEIS is being prepared pursuant to the Order of the Supreme Court for New York County to examine the potential environmental impacts of a prolonged delay in the completion of Phase II of the Project. Accordingly, all Phase I elements of the project, including the arena, will be included as part of the background condition. Therefore, the SEIS will not analyze any incremental noise effects of the Barclays Center on the surrounding area.
Falling between the cracks

It's true that the court order did not address Phase 1. But if the FEIS ignored the arena, and the arena changed, what recourse does the public have?

Also, it's confounding that a noisy arena will be "part of the background condition."

Yes, it's more the responsibility of the city Department of Environmental Protection to enforce the noise code. But if the SEIS will address noise from construction, and other potential community impacts, it seems remiss not to address noise from the arena itself.

That said, there are business reasons--including the opening of an adjacent apartment building--for Forest City Ratner to try to reduce the noise coming from the arena.

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