Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What might be on the agenda for tonight's Community Update meeting (and why no agenda?)

Update: a rather opaque agenda was released at 3:36 pm.

There's an Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting tonight at 6 pm at 55 Hanson Place, where, according to a message from Empire State Development (the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project) on behalf of itself and developer Greenland Forest City Partners "We will present an overview of the upcoming construction activities surrounding the project."

That's opaque, and it's insufficient on a number of grounds.

First, the meeting, which a state official has called a "developer meeting," was formerly a "Quality of Life Committee" meeting, in which community members and groups helped shape the agenda.

More recently it has been used as part of a developer public relations strategy to unveil information--first placed with friendly media outlets--about the open space and the B15 tower and school.

Yes, members of the public do get to ask questions during the meeting, but time is limited by the developer's agenda. So the first step would be to solicit public input regarding the agenda.

Another would simply be to set up procedures--meeting minutes, a project hotline--to both memorialize issues raised and to respond in real time to community concerns regarding "construction activities," such as the closure of a sidewalk when it wasn't supposed to be closed.

For the agenda

Numerous issues have surfaced in the past few months. Perhaps the most jarring issue is the plan, floated last week but with little detail (much less renderings), to shift the entire bulk of the B1 tower from the arena block to Site 5.

What about the progress on the arena's green roof and B2 tower? We're still waiting for information about and renderings of the B3 tower under construction at the southeast corner of the arena block.

Another issue--which I would expect to see first released via a friendly media outlet--is Forest City's compilation of statistics regarding the Community Benefits Agreement, despite the lack of an Independent Compliance Monitor.

Residents last night at the 78th Precinct Council meeting raised some longstanding and new issues:
  • continued illegal parking at hydrants and elsewhere during Barclays Center events
  • the use of Atlantic Avenue flanking the arena for Lyft pickups and free parking
  • the apparent lack of lights on construction cranes
  • dangers at the Vanderbilt and Dean intersection
Issues on Instagram

A few project neighbors have been using Instagram to document continued impacts on the community, including a generator near the property line, construction trucks on residential streets, the unannounced closure of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, the impact of demolition on a street tree guard, construction workers on neighborhood property, and the failure to take down signs regarding temporary closures.

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