Skip to main content

Harassment incident outside the arena: construction workers (from project?) harass passers-by, throw beer cans (+ unresolved security discussion)

An ugly harassment incident, with perhaps homophobic overtones, happened recently outside the Barclays Center, though some key details--such as whether the workers involved were connected to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--remain uncertain.

A Prospect Heights resident, speaking Tuesday night at the meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, reported on a incident that occurred adjacent to the arena Saturday Oct. 8.

The incident, she said, occurred "two weeks ago" at 11 am on a Saturday. "My wife and I were on the Atlantic [Avenue] side of Barclays," she said. They walked by two construction workers, who were drinking, smoking pot, and harassing passers-by.

The resident--who was not comfortable sharing her name publicly--admonished the workers, to no avail. "They basically threw their beer cans at me," she reported. "I felt unsafe."

She didn't specifically identify the workers, but said "they were with the telco people."

The connection is murky. The two previous Construction Updates do not mention telecommunications workers at the arena site, or on a weekend. They state, "During this period Optimum and Verizon communications will have crews on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt & Carlton Avenues installing infrastructure for B11 and B14." That's one long block away from the arena.

During breaks, it's not unknown for workers to leave the immediate area of the work site, and it's also not unknown for work on site to not be foreshadowed in the Construction Update.

Following up

I wasn't able to get more information (and it was not stated that a police report was filed), though perhaps more will surface at the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Community Update meeting, which is Nov. 1 at 6 pm.

On Wednesday, I asked representatives of Greenland Forest City Partners, as well Empire State Development, if they knew about the incident, and whether workers related to the project--or another project--would have been outside the arena.

I didn't get a response, but will post an update if/when I do.

I also asked if workers from contractors like Optimum/Verizon receive the same training regarding sexual harassment as construction contractors now provide.

After all, if the workers were connected with the project, that suggests the need for some intervention. Starting in April, a long-promised color-coded identification system was introduced, making it easier to recognize project construction workers and putting them on notice. (See photo above right.)

That grew out of reports by a neighborhood resident that the daily harassment she experienced was like "living in a shark tank," and that she'd been a victim of sexual misconduct, at minimum, from men apparently leaving an arena boxing match.

Past discussion on security

The issue of security came up, perhaps presciently in retrospect, at the 9/20/16 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), set up to advise Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.




At about 18 minutes into the discussion, board member Barika Williams cautioned that ESD may classify certain incidents as closed while she considered them unresolved. "I don't think we closed the issue of security, not just for the Barclays Center itself but also for the area in general," she said, nothing that a reported issue was not a resolved one.

"We wanted a report on security issues and the security protocol not just for Barclays but for the area in general," she said. Williams proposed looking into the cost of putting up "emergency poles"--presumably bearing call-in devices--throughout the site.

"I think there's a real security concern going forward, especially with the number of construction workers on the site," she said. "We've already had one incident. I'm definitely concerned about what that looks like when we start to having kids and teenage girls on the same site with all these workers."

She got a partial answer from ESD's Marion Phillips III about increasing the amount of information to locals, and making Greg Lynch, a state employee tasked to observe question, more visible.

But the usefulness of potential security hardware becomes more clear in light of the recent incident.

Board member Jaime Stein noted that notes from a community meeting in June indicated that a representative from Tishman Construction, a contractor on the site, couldn't clarify how many workers had actually gotten ID stickers.

Tobi Jaiyesimi, executive directior of the AY CDC, said that reflected the fact that some subcontractors were on site temporarily. She added that the ID system was once centrally operated when launched by the project developer, but each contractor now has their own ID tagging machine.

Arena security issues

Asked to share information about the arena security protocol, Barclays Center spokesman Terence Kelly (since departed) said that, while arena officials regularly meet with police, and attend monthly 78th Precinct Community Council meetings, "the nature and extent to which I can discuss our security protocol would be limited, especially with such high profile events."

Phillips suggested that directors wanted to know how the arena put a plan together, and Williams asked how they dealt with "a situation unfolding, a crowd that's escalating, how do you handle that... when it's flowing into neighborhoods?"

Kelly said the arena does significant preplanning with law enforcement agencies. " I believe that we do provide an additional safety net with the personnel outside," to allow safe passage across Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, "to serve as a deterrent against bad behavior... We are mindful that it will not be the end of it."

"in reference to the boxing event"--the previous harassment case--"I can't comment on that, it's a matter that has gone to litigation," Kelly said, adding that "we have made adjustments and improvements" and will continue to make adjustments "based on feedback from community members, law enforcement and bodies such as this."

Note: I checked, and could not find any court case involving the boxing event.

Comments

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.