Friday, August 14, 2015

On eve of Dean Street block party, neighbors of Pacific Park call for focus on improving construction oversight

OK, there's a big block party tomorrow on Dean Street, with murals painted on a construction fence and lots of free stuff. It's is being hailed by unskeptical media outlets like Brooklyn Reader, whose Richards Burroughs wrote this morning:
It’s full of all the things that make sense. Everyone is getting paid. The neighborhood businesses are involved. The whole neighborhood having fun is written into the block party. The walls have a long shelf life and all the artists are from Brooklyn!
But that ignores the smaller and larger controversies about this project, from not-so-affordable housing and subsidies (as I commented on the Brooklyn Reader) to the impact of that construction fence itself, as well as the overall impact of construction.
As stated in the press release below from the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance, However, the Pacific Park Arts initiative does not absolve the developer from the obligation to proceed with the project in a fair, reasonable and responsible manner. 

The press release, in full below

NEIGHBORS OF PACIFIC PARK ARTS EVENT CALL FOR FOCUS ON CONSTRUCTION OVERSIGHT IMPROVEMENTS

For ten years now and counting, local community organizations have sought to improve oversight of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Project so that environmental regulations and commitments are met and adverse construction impacts are minimized.

Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance – a coalition of neighborhood civic organizations, individuals and businesses ­– welcomes the introduction of art to the construction fence on the eastern side of the project. It is good to see construction proceeding, and we are encouraged to see Greenland/Forest City Partners take steps to engage the local community impacted by the development. However, the Pacific Park Arts initiative does not absolve the developer from the obligation to proceed with the project in a fair, reasonable and responsible manner. It is long overdue for the project to receive the level of public oversight of construction and accountability to the community such a lengthy and complicated development requires.

We call on Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Greenland Forest City Partners to:
  • Locate onsite, at all times construction takes place, a State-hired environmental monitor with a transparent scope of work.
  • Make available at public meetings the construction and planning experts as well as the contractors who regularly work on the project and are familiar with site conditions, so they can answer the community’s questions and respond to concerns directly.
  • Allow Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AYCDC) board members and/or their appointed surrogates to attend without notice the meetings and conference calls between Empire State Development staff and the State’s Environmental Monitor (currently HDR), the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) staff and the Owner’s Representative, and the ESDC staff and the Developer, and make the supporting materials for these meetings available to the board. 
It has been ten years since the first demolitions in the Atlantic Yards footprint, and nine years since the first serious construction accident at the site. In the last six months alone, a delivery worker was killed on-site accidentally, and the developer in essence implemented the required construction noise mitigation plan months late. There has been inadequate dissemination of information, with changing truck routes that depart from NYC regulations without community notice, local residents’ cars ticketed because of a contractor’s mistakes, and unsafe pedestrian conditions maintained far longer than originally detailed in public notices. Many in the community feel that their well-being is not being properly monitored or taken into consideration. Over the years the community has documented one lapse in oversight after another.

Like with so much of Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, the “Green Monster” construction fence, (as a representative of the developer has called it), was planned without consideration of the existing residential and commercial street life that occurs outside it, and art as its mitigation was not the product of public input. Although in 2006 Forest City Ratner was given control of the 22 acres that comprise the Project’s footprint because of their promise the project would be complete in ten years, the local community is likely to be exposed to adverse construction impacts and the risks they entail for at least twenty years. It is long past due for Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to put in place the oversight that the public’s stake in the project merits, and the health of the impacted community requires.

ABOUT

Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance is a coalition formed to advocate for the health, safety and vitality of the area in the vicinity of Barclays Center and the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park development. The coalition includes the Atlantic Terrace Outreach Committee, Carlton Avenue Association, Dean Street Block Association 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt, the North Flatbush Business Improvement District and the 78th Precinct Community Council as well as local individuals and businesses.

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