Wednesday, September 14, 2016

At meeting, residents' frustration about trucks in neighborhood gets "compliance is so high" response

Last night's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park "Quality of Life Community Update Meeting," held at 55 Hanson Place, was one with no headline announcements nor major resolutions, just some project updates punctuated by disgruntlement of the few dozen people who attended, which got a "we're doing our best" response from the developer and involved agencies--at least those that showed up.

Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton, representing the Greenland Forest City Partners joint venture, said they had no update on plans for Site 5, where they hope to move the bulk of the B1 tower assigned to the arena plaza across Flatbush Avenue to build a huge two-tower project. Nor are there redesigns for Atlantic Avenue, where residents hope for medians to make it easier to cross.

Nor did the developers have any update on plans for 664 Pacific, the market-rate rental tower east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets, as the developer is still in litigation with the owner of an adjacent property, 497 Dean Street. Regarding designs for the middle school planned for that building, Cotton said interested parties should contact the School Construction Authority.


Resident Robert Puca pointed to regular posts on social media--mainly Instagram, as of now, tagged #BCIZA, for Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance --that show trucks illegally idling or improperly using neighborhood streets. Are there any penalties or consequences, he asked.

Two tractor trailer trucks associated with B3 are illegally located on Dean east of Vanderbilt. Both are off of any legal truck route. In addition one is parked in a bus stop. I spoke to the drivers who were the ones to identify they were associated with B3. They said they were hauling containers. The contractor told them to leave the site and find parking in order to return. They were given no further instructions. The contractor told them there is no space in the immediate vicinity of B3. This is s violation of NYC regulations because they are both off designated truck routes and blocking a bus stop. It is also a violation of ESD's designated truck protocols. Photos August 29th at 10:19 am. #bciza #pacificparkbk @nycmayorsoffice @nyc_dot @nypd78thpcc @hdr_inc @STV_Group @EmpireStateDev @atlanticyards_pacificpk_report
A photo posted by @pplegacy on

"I don't look comprehensively at social media," Cotton responded. "Compliance is nearly 99%." She said that the developers were in regular contact with Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency that oversees/shepherds the project. "They torture us. The compliance is so high."

That may be so (though let's see the data, since ESD reps didn't follow up).

Still, given the tight fit of the project in a residential neighborhood, even a relatively small level of non-compliance can pose a major burden, as the shown in the photo above and video below.

Cotton apologized for noisy, disruptive work tearing up pavement for new water mains, as they've found cobblestone and concrete under some pavements rather than typical dirt, thus requiring a demolition machine called a Brokk.

"Newswalk is massively shaking," Puca said of that condo building, between Sixth and Carlton avenues on Pacific Street. Forest City officials could not pin down whether the building is being monitored for vibrations.

More updates and delays

The fences around the 535 Carlton and 550 Vanderbilt construction projects may be down by November, Cotton said, and officials behind those towers as well as 461 Dean, the modular building flush to the arena that should be the first to open, are working on getting TCOs, or Temporary Certificates of Occupancy.

Regarding a long-announced "app"--or digital solution--to log all project-related incidents, Empire State Development official Marion Phillips III said "we're still in the research phase."

Regarding a community request to aggregate all 311 complaints related to the project, he said the city is still working "on their end." Tobi Jaiyesimi, who represents both ESD and the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, said the difficulty is because the city codes incidents by zip code, not by project.

The developer's demolition of the "bump" buildings, jutting into the railyard below Atlantic Avenue east of Sixth Avenue, remains delayed, as it's been noticed in at least the last seven two-week Construction Updates. Cotton said that any question about the delay should be posed to the Department of Buildings.

Sewer work on Pacific Street near the project site--relining, not installation- has not yet begun, but it will be noisy, Cotton reminded the group.

Enforcement and parking

While the Department of Transportation's Leroy Branch noted that Atlantic Avenue is used for VIP parking at Barclays Center events, he said his agency is not in charge of enforcement. While representatives of the New York Police Department briefly attended the meeting, they weren't there to respond to the community call for enforcement.

Several local residents expressed frustration about the continued loss of parking spaces to project construction as well as parking by police officers and--behind construction fences, astoundingly--construction workers.

How many parking spaces has the neighborhood lost from project construction (as well as other projects)? DOT reps couldn't say, but the DOT's Abigail Ikner said she'd try to product an estimate.

But when she said the EIS--environmental impact statement--should delineate how many parking spots should be available during various phases of construction, Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association said the "EIS is irrelevant," as the current state of the project was never studied.

Asked about compliance with the requirement for project construction workers to wear color-coded stickers, Cotton said it was not 100%, but they've gotten no complaints about worker behavior.

Residents also raised frustration regarding the yellow-jacketed pedestrian managers who are supposed to steer traffic and smooth passages during arena events, saying they were too often ineffective and some even increased hazards.

There were a few dozen people in the room, despite, as Krashes pointed out, the agenda for the meeting was sent out only at the end of the day last Friday, far too late for most people to make plans. Empire State Development's Nicole Jordan said it wasn't intentional.

The next AY CDC meeting

Because of a lockout at Long Island University, one of the few local entities that has the capacity to hold and webcast a public meeting, the next meet of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, on Sept. 20 at 3 pm, will be held at ESD offices in Manhattan.

Presumably a notice will be sent out reminding visitors to RSVP a day earlier, so as to get into the building.

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