Skip to main content

"Like being in a shark tank": Prospect Heights woman reports construction worker harassment, "dry hump' from drunks leaving Barclays boxing event

While the the bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting last night was supposed to focus on designs for 664 Pacific Street, the B15 tower that will contain a new public school, it was derailed significantly by a large crowd expressing concern and dismay about arena operations and construction impacts.


Perhaps the most dramatic complaint was conveyed secondhand, by two women who reported that a Dean Street resident they know--I'll refer to her as DSR--has been experiencing sexual harassment from construction workers who are building Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park towers.

"I'm really concerned about her safety," said Sarah East Johnson, who later shared the document below recounting the issue. 

She noted that DSR (who describes being around construction workers as "like being in a shark tank") one morning was called "an ugly bitch" by a worker, treated poorly by a group of workers around him, then stymied when she tried to speak with a supervisor at Tishman Construction.

DSR also was "sexually assaulted by drunk people" leaving an arena boxing event, who tried to "dry hump" her. (Note that the behavior certainly seems to qualify as sexual misconduct, such as forcible touching, but criminal sexual assault does not always match the colloquial definition.)

What's the response?

"What are you going to do about this, what's the street harassment training"? Johnson asked at the meeting,  held at 55 Hanson Place.

Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton said she'd learned of the incidents about an hour earlier, and said it was "incredibly upsetting." She said Forest City was arranging a meeting with the 78th Precinct next week. (The police were on the agenda but not at the meeting.)

"It is absolutely not tolerated" by workers, she added, threatening termination for bad behavior.

Johnson and Marci Blackman both asked if the precinct had training in responding to sexual harassment incidents, and wondered if a "more sophisticated" approach was necessary. Cotton said she'd take that issue into consideration, given corporate resources regarding harassment.

Cotton said that Greenland Forest City has regularly tried to ensure that construction workers are good neighbors, saying they should stop sitting on people's stoops. (That hasn't worked too well, as residents say it's a regular problem during lunch hour.) She again promised to look into it quickly.

Later, after Johnson and Blackman spoke at length to Forest City and Barclays Center officials, they told me they were encouraged by the response. Clearly, the developer was on red alert.

Managing the fans

A separate resident at the meeting suggested that the behavior of arena-goers was tougher to manage. "You can't fire the Islanders fans," she said. "The tenor in the neighborhood has changed since Islanders have started playing...The tension is one of violence... So, how are you going to reeducate Islander fans... Are things going to be said to fans in the arena?"

(She didn't know at that point that the "dry hump" incident involved boxing fans. I'd say that anecdotal evidence is that boxing attracts a more rough and male crowd compared to other events, and that the extended length of the event, with many undercard bouts, offers the opportunity for a lot of drinking.)

Cotton said she'd speak to the arena general manager, saying such behavior is not acceptable. In response to a question about whether the Barclays Center would hire private security to act beyond the arena perimeter, Cotton said they'd have to check with the local precinct. 

(Note, however, that Forest City will not be the majority operator of the arena for long.)

Another resident asked if the various screens at the arena might be remind arenagoers that it's inappropriate to harass residents.

"We do make public announcements about" issues like littering, Cotton said, musing that it might be possible.
Dean Street resident's account, cited at meeting

The harassment episode


According to DSR, she regularly deals with daily catcalls, and a construction worker writing a heart shape on her car window. But on December 2, she had just returned to Brooklyn on a red-eye flight from Seattle.

At 9:30 am, she wrote, "the neighborhood is swarming with construction workers. As a female it is like being in a shark tank just to walk down your own street."

While DSR typically responds politely when construction workers say good morning, that day she was in a hurry and just wanted to be left alone. Reacting to her non-response, the worker who said good morning got upset and called her an "ugly bitch" as she stepped out of a store.

They argued heatedly. Some 20 other construction workers nearby "sat around and laughed along with each other." And when she tried to speak to the site supervisor, "he didn't even want to shake my hand when I introduced myself. I feel this was because I am a black female, and that to me was the ultimate disrespect."

DSR wrote that she would not stop until the worker "is fired or removed from the neighborhood."

Three days later, it got worse. Walking home after a visit to the bank, she was "ambushed" by three drunk men leaving the arena after the night's boxing match.

One man danced in front of her and grabbed her in a bear hug. A second grabbed her from behind, and "proceeds to dry hump me from behind." The third was "laughing and yelling in the street."

She sought to escape to the nearby firehouse, on Dean just east of Sixth Avenue, and the men let go. But after she entered the sanctuary the men didn't leave. "They continued to harass and knock on the firehouse door. The guy who'd grabbed me from behind asked the firefighter 'can I just leave my number with her.'"

Ultimately the firefighter walked her home.

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.