Skip to main content

A modest proposal to Gov. Cuomo: why New York State should hire that AY Watch camera guy to fill the Atlantic Yards community outreach position

To: Governor Andrew Cuomo

From: Norman Oder/Atlantic Yards Report

Since I know you take a special and granular interest in state personnel issues, I wish to alert you to one prominent un-filled position, that of Atlantic Yards--Manager, Community & Government Relations. It was announced as an "immediate opening" way back on June 21.

We in Brooklyn wonder why no one's been hired, given the daily violations--or seeming violations--of construction rules at the Atlantic Yards site and the regular complaints by residents.

Could it be that developer Forest City Ratner, whose CEO has been not ungenerous to you, has a veto? Is Forest City's trying to save on paying the salary for that position? Or does understaffing represent a convenient excuse for paltry oversight, as documented on Atlantic Yards Watch?

Clearly, there's a crying need to have someone to respond and even allow the state, as Project Director Arana Hankin might say, to be proactive. (You might lose that nagging "Status Cuomo" nickname, too.)

After all, Atlantic Yards Watch daily documents incidents involving noise, improper truck procedures, double parking, and more.

It is, you might admit, a salutary example of citizen input. It's also pretty damning. The photos and video don't lie. You're lucky most in the press suffer from Atlantic Yards "issue fatigue."

Still, when asked, Ms. Hankin is left to offer belated explanations for such things as why railyard lights were on all night.

If you look closely at Atlantic Yards Watch, you'll see that the single most prolific contributor goes by the handle 700PacificW.

Let me tell you about Mr. 700PacificW. He lives and works in the Newswalk building, a large condo building that was once a Daily News printing plant. It's smack across the street from the Vanderbilt Yard and on the Pacific Street route of trucks exiting the staging area and traveling to the arena site. (Why wasn't it part of the Atlantic Yards project? Too expensive to buy out.)

His apartment is in the back, facing the railyard. He's got high-end photo and video equipment. He gets woken up a lot. He doesn't need a lot of sleep.

That's why he's there recording infractions, day in, day out, when the state's contracted monitors are absent, or blinkered.

Powder dumped on the street? Check.

Railyard lights on too late? Check.

Trucks double-parked and idling on the street? Check.

Let me tell you, Mr. Governor, 700PacificW is on it. (He doesn't like using his name because, well, he's got people at the construction site, like those construction workers who like to double-park, pissed at him. But if you empower him with a job and the full force of the state, I bet you can work something out.)

I know you're concerned about the state budget. I have good news for you.

700PacificW will not request any assistance with re-location. He's located.

He does not need an office. He's set at home.

He does not need monitoring equipment. He's equipped.

And let's face it, this would increase governmental efficiency. Right now, 700PacificW takes a photo or video, posts an incident report, and waits to see if anyone responds. Sometimes Atlantic Yards Watch posts an additional article. Some in the press (usually me) may contact Ms. Hankin. Then, somewhat later, she reports that it won't happen again.

Here's the key: you cut out the middleman. 700PacificW could be working for you. You save on contractors, and you get embedded in the community.

Yes, that means that Mr. 700 would have to deal regularly with Ms. Hankin and Forest City Ratner, and that could get interesting.

But didn't Lyndon Johnson say something about getting your antagonists on the inside of the tent?

Whaddya think, Mr. Governor?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

No, security guards can't ban photos. Questions remain about visibility of ID/sticker system.

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting June 14, held at 55 Hanson Place, addressed multiple issues, including delays in the project, a new detente with project neighbors,concerns about traffic congestion, upcoming sewer work and demolitions, and an explanation of how high winds caused debris to fly off the under-construction 38 Sixth Avenue building. I'll have more coverage.
Security issues came up several times at the meeting.
Wayne Bailey, a resident who regularly takes photos and videos (that I often use) of construction/operations issues that impact residents, asked representatives of Tishman Construction if the security guard at the sites they're building works for them.
After Tishman Senior VP Eric Reid said yes, Bailey asked why a guard told him not to shoot video of the site, even though he was on a public street.

"I will address it with principals for that security firm," Reid said.
Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton, the …

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what might be coming (post-dated pinned post)

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …