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Community Board 2 votes to support bollard plan; DOT hearing in October; state memo coming on truncated sidewalk

Well, chalk up one victory for process, if not exactly rigorous oversight.

Developer Forest City Ratner did attend the monthly meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 2 last night, despite doubts that the developer would appear, and made a fairly brief presentation about the 206 bollards planned for the perimeter of the arena block.

After asking the barest of questions, the board--which was anticipating a presentation by City Comptroller John Liu, who was in the wings--voted unanimously to support the plan as pending before the Department of Transportation (DOT). Five board members abstained, perhaps because of lingering wariness toward the project.

Hearing and memo coming

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall did reveal two important pieces of process-related information. The Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in early October on the bollard issue, and will leave the record open for ten days and will respond to comments, she said. (No date is listed yet on the DOT web site.)

She also acknowledged that there had been expressions of concern that the sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue going east from the arena to Sixth Avenue would be less than the promised 20 feet--the consequence of a temporary wall that would be replaced when a residential building is finally construction.

Indeed, the new documents (below, excerpted at right) reveal that, in the strip of Atlantic Avenue sidewalk just east of the arena, the sidewalk is 9.5 ft wide. Given typical buffer zone subtractions, the effective width of the sidewalk would be 5.5 feet, much less than disclosed in the environmental review and likely a bottleneck for arena-bound pedestrians, as noted by Atlantic Yards Watch.

"I understand that ESDC [Empire State Development Corporation] and their environmental consultants are studying that and are going to submit a memo," Marshall said.

Opening up

Marshall opened up by apologizing that the board agenda had stated that Forest City had been invited but was not confirmed.

"We weren't sure if we were supposed to come and present it," she said. "Of course we were always available. It got a little mixed up. But we will always be here to share information with you."

Marshall explained that DOT has referred to the Community Board a revocable consent, an agreement that says the owner of property will maintain bollards to to satisfaction of the DOT. She said the plan had been developed in coordination with other city agencies, such as Department of Environmental Protection, which wants to protect its sewers.

"The bollards are associated with the arena itself, not with the residential buidlings that are coming later," she said. "That doesn't mean residential buildings won't have beefed up security."

Describing the plan

Susan Walter, an engineer for FCR's consultant Stantec, then described the perimter plan, as presented in documents submitted to DOT, which also includes such things as new street trees and benches. Given the somewhat limited magnification available, it wasn't that easy for attendees to examine.

She noted that no bollards are placed at the site of Building 2, the first tower planned, at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street: "The secure perimeter will be built into the foundations of Building 2."

At the northwest corner of Atlantic Avenue and Sixth Avenue, a retaining wall--42 inches high, with an 8-foot mesh fence--will be built into part of the secure perimeter, along Atlantic, thus narrowing the sidewalk. Walter called that "an interim temporary condition" and that, "we'd anticipate when Building 4 is built, they'll build a secure perimeter into the design of the building."

At that point, Marshall added, the sidewalk would become even with the arena sidewalk, and thus would represent the width disclosed and planned for "in the public approval documents." Hence, apparently, the ESDC memo that will explain it all.

(One pending question: how long is that "interim temporary condition" expected, especially since the narrow sidewalk would be used by arena-goers?)

Below, a view of the arena site, from the southwest, by SHoP architects.

More details

In response to a question, Walter said the bollards would be a foot in diameter, 36 inches off the ground, with a stainless steel cover. Added Marshall, "We tried to keep the design esthetic very simple."

Walter said that bollards would be spaced five feet apart from their center points, leaving a clearance of four feet to meet disability accessibility requirements.

While the FCR party did not bring a rendering, Marshall said the design for the public plaza (above) released last year represents the bollards.

Arena Block Bollard Plan, Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards