Elusive accountability: site access for monitors; incorrect public notice; construction worker IDs; no community hotline
But an underlying theme, popping up several times, relates to accountability and the inability to get it from the developer and the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, Empire State Development (ESD).
Though there are some signs of progress, success remains elusive, as noted for example in this Instagram post after the meeting.
Not great photos but 6th Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific was closed by Con Ed last night. Con Ed also working at Dean/6th intersection next to fire station which was active. Apparently work is being done to boost electric capacity to accommodate Pacific Park buildings. No notice for either work site. #nyc311 #bciza #pacificparkbk #hdr_inc @nycmayorsoffice @nyc_dot @nyc311 @nypd78thpcc @fdny
A contract renewal
He asked moderator Tobi Jaiyesimi--executive director of the ESD's advisory subsidiary, Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC)--if the contract had been brought to the attention of the AY CDC board.
"It was not," Jaiyesimi responded. "I will make note of your comments."
While I considered the issue routine--ESD regularly renews contracts with long-serving consultants, based on the premise that they already have momentum--Krashes pointed out that the AY CDC is charged with evaluating the effectiveness of monitoring.
"I think you should nullify it, and give me the opportunity to address it with the AY CDC board and the ESD board," Krashes said.
"I appreciate your comment," Jaiyesimi said, "and follow up accordingly." She noted that it was the third contract extension for STV.
"It's the first time since the AY CDC board exists," Krashes said.
What about minutes?
Krashes noted discussion at the last AY CDC board meeting about taking minutes at the Community Update meetings to keep a record, so issues that could be addressed the next day. "Many of us feel ESDC is not transparent enough," he said.
"I have heard you," Jaiyesimi said, trying to move the meeting along. She said she and ESD project manager Sam Filler would communicate the information to the AY CDC board, and other staffers at the meeting also would take in the information.
"You're kicking the can down the road," Krashes said, "and before we know it, the project's complete."
"I appreciate your comment," she responded.
Who's on the project site?
Filler, responding to a question lingering from the previous Community Update meeting, said that STV has two full-time staff members at the site, while HDR, which reviews environmental impacts, has four full-time staffers at the site. (He called STV "our on-site construction manager.")
What about the app?
"That's disappointing, because I think having that record of incidents would go a long way" toward relieving community concern, said Gib Veconi, who's said the Atlantic Yards Watch site he manages can't be integrate all reports (including 911) or mobile ones. "Is there any way that can be revived and integrated with the ESDC website later"
"We can take a look at it," Filler said.
Where can STV go?
"They are able to see all aspects," Filler responded. "They are allowed to see all aspects."
"Are they allowed into the site?"
Filler said the STV rep "goes down" into the railyard.
"They request permission and they are given access," responded Filler. That implies some level of control from the construction end.
What's been fixed?
Resident Steve Ettlinger asked Lynch for examples of things found problematic. Filler interjected to note that Lynch, who does not have access to the project site, is responsible for monitoring things outside the walls.
"Everything's reported back to Nicole [Jordan]," responded Lynch, speaking for the first time in the year he's had the job. He cited things like smoke, trucks coming in without flaggers, and trucks idling. "They're sent to Nicole, and Nicole takes it from there."
He said, in response to a follow up question, that issues can be handled in real time.
"She gets back to me, as soon as I send it to her," Lynch said.
No lights on cranes?
Wayne Bailey, president of the 78th Precinct Community Council, cited concerns brought up at Community Council meetings about cranes for the project not having blinking lights, and not being lowered during times of high winds.
Krashes noted that community notices regarding closing Sixth Avenue was incorrect.
"We know what you're talking about," Cotton responded, saying there were times when the sidewalk was closed, and then was open. "We'll word it better next time."
"The sidewalk looked like it had been closed all day, in terms of equipment," Krashes responded.
"In terms of Vanderbilt Avenue, it described a closure that was a block longer than what you sent out," Krashes said, noting that the developer only announced it by email rather than flyering the neighborhood.
Here's the street closure notice posted on Vanderbilt. The same info was on Dean as well. Note it differs from what was distributed to the public because it states Vanderbilt southbound is closed from Atlantic to Bergen instead of from Pacific. In actuality Vanderbilt was closed intermittently northbound as well, with the traffic routed down Dean. #nypd78thpct #Greenlandforestcitypartners #esdny #hdr_inc #stv #nycdob #nycdot #bciza #pacificparkbk #550vanderbilt #nyc311
Cotton said she hoped he'd share her contact info with concerned businesses."If the wording was not quite right, we will do better next time," she said, noting, "You're right, we do usually flyer."
Stickers for construction workers
"Last time we got together, we heard shocking and horrible examples of harassment related to construction workers," Cotton said, regarding complaints by a resident likening the neighborhood to a "shark tank" and citing a specific incident of groping by arenagoers.
She said that the 1,700 construction workers on site would get color-coded identification stickers that would associate them with a specific construction site. (It wasn't clear if the stickers would have their names.)
Regarding complaints about workers eating lunch and smoking on neighborhood stoops, she said, "If every stoop issue was solved, I would announce it... we need to fix that." She said they were "trying to create space on our site where people can eat lunch" and the ID stickers would help.
She did not have a date for the program, however, though she said it was soon.
She said Captain Frank DiGiacomo, commanding officer of the 78th Precinct, "called the entire construction team into the precinct, to hear how much disruption can be caused by workers just smoking on the corners."
"Obviously, drug use, public urination are illegal," she said. "Call 911, call me, call my team... we take it very seriously.... We are trying our best... I can't arrest people, but we can fire people." A little later she said, without elaboration, "Frankly, we had a staffing change at one building."
Is there a hotline?
Cotton cited the Community Liaison Office, staffed by Forest City's Roberta Fearon: 866-923-5315
"How often is it staffed?"
"It rings at my desk," Fearon said.
What about at night?
"We don't have overnight workers," Cotton said, recommending 911 if illegal actions are spotted.
Krashes, who praised the idea of an identification badge, cited the ongoing issue of accountability: "With all deference to the Community Liaison... the Community Liaison is not responsible for maintaining the site, understanding the site, being the point person responsible. for maintaining the security."
He said residents have that security personnel come to public meetings. "It is one issue, ultimately, he said. "There should be somebody the community knows."
"You guys know what I'm going to say: me," responded Cotton, whose job is to manage external affairs, including liaison with various stakeholders, not to manage the site. "I am so entrenched." She offered but did not announce her cell phone number.
And that's where it ended.
The next day Krashes posted this:
Turn your volume on your phone up for this crescendo of horns caused by 550 Vanderbilt truck blocking the Dean/Vanderbilt intersection. Full video (horns go on and on and on) here: Https://youtu.be/eVP8Bi1LZH8. Funny, I don't think the supposed noise attenuation goals of the 16 foot fence work. Do you? This blockage is ongoing by the way, so all the monitors the State says are onsite can head over and check it out. Or maybe Ashley Cotton should since she is not just handling PR but also all situations on the ground related to the project. #pacificparkarts #pacificparkarts #hdr_inc #pacificparkbk #bciza #nyc311 @nyc_dot @nycmayorsoffice @nypd78thpcc @atlanticyards_pacificpk_report @fdny