Friday, February 03, 2017

From the Quality of Life meeting: ESD leadership; that giant green wall; Times Plaza reconfiguration; Atlantic Avenue rebuild

This is the fifth of five articles based on the 1/24/17 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park meeting. I previously wrote about the unclear timing of the project buildout, the role of Greenland, the impact of exterior events, and the uncertain Community Events program.

Let's catch up on a few other issues that came up.

Jaiyesimi now the point person

The changes are official at Empire State Development (ESD) the state agency that oversees/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.

I wrote last April how ESD staffer Sam Filler, whose job duties included managing Atlantic Yards (and had succeeded Paula Roy, who had succeeded Arana Hankin), was no longer on the project, and that his role had been assumed by Tobi Jaiyesimi, who was hired to by the full-time Executive Director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, a subsidiary that's supposed to advise ESD.

At that point, it wasn't clear if that was permanent. Now it is. So the state is saving on salary. And the existing overlap--in which the AY CDC Executive Director is also supposed to support ESD staff and represent ESD at community events--is institutionalized. So she's helping a board advise herself. It's a bit of a mobius strip.

The Dean Street construction fence

A representative of the Dean Street Block Association reminded Jaiyesimi that they'd sent a letter asking of the giant green wall on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues could be adjusted, as it encroaches into the street.

She said that the 16-foot wallt was required by the Second Amendment Memorandum of Environmental Commitments to mitigate dust and noise impacts. "It's not simply at the whim of developer and the state to take the fence down," she said. "It's a full construction structure, concrete blocks at base... It's going to take a full detailed analysis before we can actually move it."

Parts of the wall have been moved back, she noted, as 535 Carlton (B14) opens, near the west end of the block.

Times Plaza reconfiguration


Is the reconfiguration of Times Plaza, for both safety improvements and pedestrian access, waiting for the construction plans for Site 5, currently home to Modell's and P.C. Richard, and potentially the site for a giant two-tower mixed-use building?

No, said Forest City Ratner representative Ashley Cotton. (Developer Greenland Forest City Partners agreed to fund the reconfiguration to mitigate the analyzed lack of open space for area workers.)

Cotton noted that people were first concerned about safety issues, so "we were asked to stop working on it" to address the broader challenge. "We're ready to re-engage on it," she said, adding that the process was overseen by the New York City Department of Transportation. A DOT rep said there will be one more public meeting before the issue goes to Community Board 2.

Rebuilding Atlantic Avenue

As of now, the developer is rebuilding the West Portal entrance from the Vanderbilt Yard to the Atlantic Terminal station of the Long Island Rail Road. When Atlantic Avenue--currently blocked off in part, with no median--is rebuilt, will it get a median?

"It definitely is on our radar.," said the DOT's Abigail Ikner. Stay tuned on that one.

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