Skip to main content

In advance of today's AY CDC meeting, block association questions ESD's responsiveness

Note that the meeting is May 19, not March 19
The proposed agenda for today's 3 pm meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) doesn't have a lot of detail, but it includes the following topics:
  • Community Relations Update
  • Project Update
  • Barclays Event Protocols
The meeting will be held at:
New York State Department of Labor - Brooklyn Office
250 Schermerhorn Street,
Orientation Room #2 – First Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Letter: state falls short

One issue that may come up in the public comments is a letter (text below) sent by the Dean Street Block Association (DSBA) to Empire State Development that contends that the state agency has not sufficiently responded to complaints and other public input, and restricted information available to the public. The letter is on the DSBA web site.

The DSBA represents neighbors directly adjacent to the project site and most vulnerable to late-night noise, errant trucks, and other violations of--or inadequate--construction protocols.

As noted in the letter, the public meetings held by the state--previously called Quality of Life Committee, now Community Update--have become less accountable. "The community seeks a qualitative response received in a timely way," the DSBA says.

The block association asked the staff and executives of the state agency to provide the new AY CDC board "with the data and documentation they have collected of community concerns and ESDC’s responses since Atlantic Yards project’s approval," as a way to better offer input on the project.

The letter
We believe the information the community has made available to the State throughout the construction-phase of the Project would have created timely improvements if it had been responded to when made available. Likewise, we believe the State has limited the opportunity for the community to suggest improvements by restricting the comprehensiveness, and delaying the release of the information it makes public.
Among other things, the various versions of meetings the State sanctions with the community, (the District Service Cabinet, Quality of Life, and Community Update meetings), have been missed opportunities for the community to assist the State in improving the  Project. Although no version has truly been successful, each subsequent iteration has been less successful than the one before it.
To our knowledge, official minutes have rarely if ever been kept and no recording has been allowed. The most recent iteration is apparently directed toward the dissemination of information that could be released more productively in other ways.
Likewise, the complaints received in the interim between meetings, whether by direct interaction or Atlantic Yards Watch, have often not received responses in a timely way, and when those responses have been received, they often fall short qualitatively, whether because the response is directed toward a part rather than the whole concern, or because they are rhetorical and indirect. The community seeks a qualitative response received in a timely way.
At its last meeting the AYCDC board discussed the need to assess the ESD’s “performance metrics” and methods as a means to judge the quality of the State’s oversight of the Project’s environmental commitments. The ESD staff provided a log of community concerns to the board members and stated a log of its nature had only been maintained since January 2015. The ESD staff and executives did not offer additional material from earlier in the project. Our community has experienced adverse construction impacts related to the project since 2005, and we have given input to the State in good faith for much of that same period through meetings, 311 complaints, telephone calls, and emails with ESDC executives including Jennifer Maldonado, Forrest Taylor, Arana Hankin, Derek Lynch, Rachel Shatz, and Nicole Jordan. As a means to identifying and tracking patterns over time, we have kept records of many of those interactions. We ask the staff and executives of the ESDC to provide the new AYCDC board with the data and documentation they have collected of community concerns and ESDC’s responses since Atlantic Yards project’s approval. We believe reviewing the State and community’s past records is the best opportunity the new AYCDC board has, and we hope the State assists us in working with the board to succeed.
Fortunately, along with the community’s institutional knowledge, there is meaningful continuity in the ESD in respect to overseeing environmental impacts related to the Project. Rachel Shatz, ESD’s Vice President, Planning and Environmental Review, has worked on the project in the same relative position since before the project was approved, and continues in that position.
It is our goal to create accountability and transparency with the State as a means to improving adherence to the environmental commitments that are an intrinsic part of the Project’s implementation, while also working to improve the final outcome of the Project. The community has given input and expressed its concerns about many of the same issues for years. What we need is a State agency that wants to work with the community and the public to improve the project it oversees.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.