Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Community Update: new app to log Atlantic Yards complaints, B3 construction plans, concern about Atlantic Avenue reconstruction

I’ve already covered three items from last night’s Community Update meeting: a delay in the removal of the Atlantic Avenue crane, a dubious claim that the affordable housing configuration matches the original plan, and the curious explanation that announced realignment of modules at the B2 tower is routine.

Officials at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Brooklyn Community Update meeting, held last night at the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building in Fort Greene, provided updates on several topics.

Sam Filler, the Atlantic Yards program manager at Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, said that ESD—at the prompting of residents as well as the new Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC)—aims to collect better metrics regarding quality of life complaints.

So they are planning to develop an app that can serve as a database for all community complaints, whether sent to the arena, ESD, or other channels. For example, a photo could be uploaded directly to the database.

“We're crafting the RFP right now,” said Filler, with the expectation to launch in the fall.

ESD has only collected complaints in a systematic fashion since January, despite years of concerns and the launch in May 2011 of Atlantic Yards Watch.

The May 19 meeting (at 3 pm) of the AY CDC still doesn’t have a location, executive director Tobi Jaiyesimi said, noting that they are required to find a location from which meetings can be webcast.

Nicole Jordan, ESD’s Director of Community Relations, announced that the agency has assigned a full-time “field person,” Gregory Lynch, to work out of the 55 Hanson Place office and walk the site regularly to observe concerns. (His credentials were not described, but I believe he previously was a weatherization inspector for the Harlem CDC.)

Plans for B3 construction

The new “100% affordable” B3 tower at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue (aka 38 Sixth Avenue) should have a groundbreaking in June.

“We’re very pleased to announced that 38 Sixth Avenue will not have 16-foot fences,” Forest City’s Ashley Cotton said, referring to the huge fences at Dean Street and Carlton Avenue that—aimed to diminish noise—extend significantly into the street and have bedeviled neighbors.

Instead, it will be an 8-foot fence, with foot fence, with acoustical blankets hung on the inside to deter some noise.

Forest City’s Jane Marshall showed slides—presumably released soon—that describe the planned fencing. Because the B2 modular tower will soon resume deliveries, and one mod will be stored overnight near Dean and Sixth, that will move the fence to the sidewalk

A 5-foot pedestrian protected passageway is required, because it leads to the Dean Street entrance to the arena.

Later, the traffic protection will move out into the street. The B65 bus stop on Dean Street west of Sixth Avenue stays in the first phase, but later must move—the location is unclear. Nor is it clear where NYPD members who park on Sixth Avenue will go.

The B3 building will have about 60 parking spaces, accessible via Dean Street and the same curb cut that serves the arena parking garage. Also, as promised, it will contain space for storage of 400 bicycles for arena-goers.

Noisy West Portal work

Cotton described a week of overnight work under Sixth Avenue at Atlantic Avenue that starts Thursday night, “which I believe will be noisy.”

Translation: if they say so, it will be noisy. “We have been in touch with Atlantic Terrace,” the residential building direction across the street, she said.

Traffic on Carlton, bus re-routing

Resident Laura Keith pointed to regular problems on Carlton Avenue near Park Place, where early morning traffic is congested by trucks, prompting much honking. Compounding that is the presence of private B110 buses commuting between Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

The Department of Transportation’s Keith Bray said the agency aims to add “more robust signage” to discourage truck traffic and, presumably, induce a crackdown.

Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council noted that three community boards had asked for the B110 bus to be rerouted down Vanderbilt Avenue, not Carlton Avenue, especially since Carlton is severely narrowed at Dean Street for tower construction.

“We totally agree with you,” Bray said. “We believe we're at the point where we have the bus company agree.” He said that the DOT is consulting with the District Managers of the community boards, and then plans to go to the bus company.

Atlantic Avenue reconstruction

Veconi asked about plans to reconstruct Atlantic Avenue between Flatbush and Carlton avenues.

“Right now the plan is to put the street back together as it is,” Cotton said.

“That would be a tremendous disappointment,” Veconi said, suggesting residents expected pedestrian safety features such as medians and pedestrian refuge islands. The DOT’s Bray agreed to look into it, including the stretch to Vanderbilt Avenue, the eastern end of the project site.

Other development plans

Cotton described progress at other development sites. The 550 Vanderbilt condo building is undergoing foundation work. “There's no parking lot here, which is why this looks further along,” she said.

By contrast, 535 Carlton, the affordable rental tower planned at Dean Street, is in the excavation and foundation stages, because of the planned parking lot.

Arena plans

Barclays Center Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly detailed upcoming major events at the arena. In late August will be the WWE Summer Slam, which will not be as large as NBA all start weekend, “but it is a live televised event,”pay per view.

He said arena officials are also doing a lot of work inside to prepare for the arrival of the New York Islanders, as well as promoting use of the Long Island Rail Road for hockey fans.

Asked about crowds at the loading dock, Kelley said that plans are afoot for WWE events in Downtown Brooklyn. As the arena event approaches, they will be “working with the NYPD on crowd control.”

Art on construction fence

“We're required  to put public art on the construction fence,” said Cotton. “We have a really great idea we're hoping to roll out in summer months.” She cited “Brooklyn artists” and said “stay tuned.”

That idea got pooh-poohed by residents of Carlton Avenue near the 16-foot wall, who said they liked art but didn’t think it would diminish the impact of the looming fence.

School at B15

Filler said the New York City School Construction Authority should present information soon regarding the site selection process for the planned school in B15, east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets.

He said information should be public by May 15. Also, Community Board 8 will hold a public meeting on the issue.

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