Remember, the scandal isn't what's illegal, it's what's legal or, at least, not enforced.
So the construction/EPA violations cited in the New York Post article today, Barclays Center faces slew of violations prior to DNC decision, aren't as big a deal, I'd contend, as the steady history of corner-cutting in construction and operations, as documented in a consultant's report and by residents in Atlantic Yards Watch.
The Post reports:
The city’s newest arena — which is poised to host Britain’s royal visitors at a basketball game Monday night and is where Mayor de Blasio hopes the 2016 Democratic National Convention will be held — has racked up a slew of federal and city building violations.While the Post gets critical quotes from Republican Sen. Marty Golden and former Council Member Sal Albanese, and a defense from the city, none are experts on these issues nor offer the context: how bad are the violations?
It has been in “significant violation” of federal Environmental Protection Agency standards for three years, according to the agency’s Web site. It also faces at least 23 open city Department of Buildings violations.
The arena is in “noncompliance’’ for issues involving its generators and “universal waste — small quantity handlers,” the feds say, violations that will cost the arena $7,500 in fines for the two “compliance orders’’ it has ignored.
According to the Department of Buildings, the Barclays Center has 11 open DOB violations and 12 open Environmental Control Board (ECB) violations.
That's slightly worse than Madison Square Garden, the building in the city that's most similar. According to the DOB, Madison Square Garden has 9 open DOB violations and 9 open ECB violations.
According to the EPA, the Barclays Center has faced 2 formal enforcement actions in five years. The violations involving waste were in the third and fourth quarter of 2013. But it has been in "significant violation" for each of the 12 quarters it has operated, regarding the generators.
Madison Square Garden, by contrast, gets a clean bill of health from the EPA.
The bigger picture
"The city will work to ensure any outstanding issues are resolved," a mayoral spokesman told the Post.
Indeed, any enforcement agency under mayoral pressure can work to make violations get resolved with or without pain to the property owner/operator.
Consider how the city could have--but did not--make a big deal out of the regular episodes in which booming bass from concerts seeped into residents' homes. (Why are they putting a green roof on the arena? In part because of noise-dampening qualities.)
The city could have, but has not, fined Atlantic Yards developers and contractors for violations documented during the construction of the arena.
Te Democratic National Committee, considering the possibility of a 2016 convention in Brooklyn, should recognize that the arena is a very tight fit in the neighborhood, with the state overriding city zoning that requires a 200-foot barrier between an arena and residences.
After all, the experience of the MTV Video Music Awards--surely an event with far lesser impact on the neighborhood--was stressful and harrowing for a good number of residents.
So far, the amount of disclosure regarding the potential impact of a DNC has been ominously limited: only via Politico, rather than any local elected official or news outlet, did the news surface that local businesses might have to be closed for weeks. That implies that residents nearby also would face severe strictures.