Saturday, February 20, 2016

Next Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting March 15, after five-month gap; what's next?

After a five-month hiatus, the next meeting of the Directors of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) will be held Monday, March 15, 2016, at 3 p.m. 

No location has been confirmed yet, but the last few meetings were at Long Island University.

I was told by a spokesman for Empire State Development (ESD), the parent of the AY CDC,  that agendas will be made available before the meeting, which was not the pattern last year, thus rendering the body less than transparent.

ESD also confirmed three other meetings, also on the third Tuesday of the month, on May 17, August 16, and November 15.

Note that the ESD board typically meets on the third Thursday of the month, so I wouldn't be surprised if the AY CDC is asked to endorse--and it will, given gubernatorial control--various changes in the project. Then again, I can't imagine there wouldn't be at least some concern about the proposed "Brooklyn Behemoth" office (+hotel/condo?) tower.

Quarterly meeting, or a schedule slip?

The AY CDC was supposed to meet "not less than quarterly," as stated in the 6/25/14 letter (below) announcing the settlement that led to a new timetable for affordable housing (by 2025, instead of 2035, so shorter, though not the ten years originally promised) and the advisory AY CDC.

An ESD official told me yesterday that the meetings indeed are on a quarterly schedule, because the last meeting, in October 2015, was in the fourth quarter of the year, and the next one, in March 2016, is in the first quarter. OK, then.

There has been periodic slippage in the AY CDC schedule. It was supposed to meet within six months of the settlement--by the end of 2015--but did not do so.

In September, a state official said the goal for the first meeting was no later than December 15.
At an 11/19/14 public meeting, we were told the board would meet during the week of December 15.  It was announced for 1/30/15, then postponed a week.

Once the AY CDC got started, it met five times in a year:

Issues for the future

The board has been bypassed regarding major decisions.

For example, Gib Veconi, who signed the settlement and as a member of the BrooklynSpeaks coalition has expressed optimism about the AY CDC, last year suggested that the body meet to consider Forest City Ratner's planned transfer of the majority of the arena operating company to minority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, given issues regarding arena operational impacts.

"The idea that we're now going to transfer controlling interest in an arena to a foreign owner strikes me as not a good idea unless we have already agreed on a plan to address some of these issues," he said last December.

"I don't think a new owner will be motivated to address them more than the current owners," Veconi said. "I would like Atlantic Yards CDC to have an ability to weigh in on what some of the mitigations might be" before the transaction is approved. That didn't happen.

Board member Jaime Stein has consistently requested more information about the state's response to the impacts of project construction and operation.

"I have questions about this report," Stein said last October, pointing to a document she had been given regarding the state's environmental monitor. It covered the months January through March of this year, was apparently written in August, and was received in October. She added that she had asked AY CDC Executive Director Tobi Jaiyesimi "that appendices be posted on the [project] web site."

Stein asked if a representative of that monitor, HDR, could attend the next AY CDC meeting to answer questions. She was told yes, so that would be a new step.

The Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance has called for mandatory attendance at community and AY CDC meetings of the Arena manager, Facility operations manager, and Security Director. There's been no confirmation of that.

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