Skip to main content

Elusive accountability: despite claimed consultants on site, neighbors must provide "oversight of the oversight"

"We feel [the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site is] very well monitored," Empire State Development (ESD) project manager Sam Filler said at the Community Update meeting last month, listing seven full-time consultants/staffers purportedly on-site full time, with another there part of the week.

The record then suggested accountability was elusive, and the most recent flurry of Instagram posts and YouTube videos from yesterday (directly below and further below) confirms that.



2014 warnings

It recalled for me an exchange in June 2014, upon the announcement of a settlement that produced a new 2025 timetable for the project affordable housing, the new, advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) and a general but distinctly incomplete air of agreement.

At that ESD board meeting, members of the Dean Street Block Association explained why they had left the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a signatory of the settlement, because they felt the oversight would be insufficient.

"The history of Atlantic Yards is that the devil is in the details," declared Peter Krashes. "What is delivered is rarely more than what is spelled out in written agreements and often is less.” He noted that "neighbor after neighbor has already detailed the noncompliance with environmental commitments," but they still have oversight to themselves.

He read a statement by a neighbor, Wayne Bailey, who lamented that the agreement had specific penalties regarding delays and affordable housing but not for violations of construction protocols. he cited violations of hours of construction just in the past 12 hours.

Kenneth Adams, the ESD's CEO, pledged to do better and quipped, with both friendliness and a bit of condescension, "Peter, I expect you to provide oversight of the oversight.” 

Adams, a Brooklynite relatively familiar with Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, has departed, succeeded by a Buffalo developer. Krashes and Bailey, as shown below, continue to provide oversight of the oversight, with no government or developer hotline for real-time accountability. And the lack of penalties for illegal parking, blocking traffic, and more continue.




















Comments

  1. My comments in entirety:

    Derek,
    I have been characterized as “reasonable” by the ESD and FCRC; I hope that the ESD allows Peter to read my statement on my behalf, because I AM NOT VERY REASONABLE at the moment or have been since I learned about the signed settlement in the middle of the night. I will be HIGHLY disappointed and more upset if the ESD prevents Peter from reading my statement for me! THIS IS NOT MAKING PEACE with the residents!

    Peter, please read this for me if you can. I JUST CAN’T attend I am so upset!

    I am truly at a loss that any agreement has been negotiated and signed in secret without the MOST IMPACTED residents getting any notice of the LACK of any ENFORCEMENT mechanism, remedies or fines for the continual violations from construction or environmental impacts (none cited from news articles released in the middle of the night) but has “grave specific monetary penalties” for not delivering affordable housing! The groups that negotiated and signed the agreement did so with the full knowledge that an enforcement element was required to any agreement signed on the impacted residents behalf, it matters less to them, they don’t live with construction or 24/7 Barclays arena operations! AGAIN demonstrated last night at 1am during an arena event and at 6 in the morning, FCRC contractors appear to have violated the hours of operation code!

    While an entity is formed it is just another “advisory” board!

    N Wayne BAILEY

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These were comments at the June 2014 meeting, first directed to Derek Lynch, then of ESDC, who's now gone.

      Delete

Post a Comment

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.