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As a parking lot for TV vans emerges on Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, how to make it work for neighbors? Testimony from the Dean Street Block Association suggests adjustments

TV vehicles serving the Barclays Center arena will be parking in a residential neighborhood. Does that mean any adjustments in the fence, the restoration of street trees, and the monitoring of impacts? Unclear.

Yesterday, the Department of Transportation held a hearing on a "revocable consent" for Forest City Ratner to run cable conduits from the Barclays Center arena under Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets to the parking lot at the northeast corner where six vans and a truck could park.

This broadcast support area, which would complement space under the arena for TV trucks, was not mentioned in the 2006 environmental review or 2009 update, but, in December 2010, an outline of the plan emerged in a graphic (left).

The lot was created by combining an existing empty lot with the space created by the demolition of two townhouses purchased by Forest City Ratner.

The three adjacent houses on Dean Street, officially designated as part of the project footprint and originally supposed to be part of a larger lot used for construction staging and ultimately a 272-foot tower, remain privately owned and subject to eminent domain at a later date.

Brief testimony

Community Board 8 took public comment in the spring, though no one from CB 8 testified yesterday at the brief hearing held in a tiny Department of Transportation conference room at 55 Water Street.

In fact, I'm not even sure what Forest City Ratner presented, since 1) neither they (nor Community Boards 6 & 8) have posted such documents and 2) the security procedure at 55 Water took so long I got there ten minutes late, after the developer's brief presentation.

But I did see the testimony (embedded below) made by Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association, which amplified issues raised in April and points to a misleading rendering that may mask capacity challenges.

Keep fence line at building line

According to the letter:
The effective width of nineteen of twenty-four sidewalks assessed in the FEIS was incorrect and over-assessed in the FEIS. The 6th Avenue sidewalk is one of the few overstated in its current condition. The current construction fence has been situated two feet into the sidewalk from the line of the buildings along 6th Avenue. There is every good reason to maintain its current width and enhance it with amenities like street trees, benches and planters.
We ask from the developer and arena management that the fence fall along the line of the existing buildings on 6th Avenue and Dean Street in order to better maintain the character of the neighborhood and facilitate healthier street life in the area.
Atlantic Yards Watch, to which Krashes contributes, has made several criticisms of the analysis of sidewalk widths, a looming issue given that arena-goers will be walking on residential streets.

Monitoring impacts

ERSD illustration at top, Google Street View at bottom
According to the letter:
We believe there is a higher risk of noise, disruption, and other environmental impacts generated by this new use from sources like truck idling and activity on the adjacent sidewalk than generated by a parking lot. Because it will not be a construction staging area, the regulations and oversight that apply to the satellite uplink parking lot are not clear.
Concern that the lot’s scale is not big enough for the demand generated by the arena is enhanced by the alteration of the illustration of the lot posted on the ESDC website (attached). The illustration has been modified to make the lot look much larger than it actually is. If the lot is not large enough broadcast trucks will locate elsewhere nearby. Those trucks will operate using generators.
So the block association asked that the developer and arena managers set up a line of commend to monitor and enforce use of the lot, and to keep the sidewalk clear for pedestrians, and that the city police and DOT ensure that trucks don't idle or park on the street.

Forest City has said there will be an arena staffer charged with community outreach; one issue raised by Council Member Steve Levin is the impact of late-arriving TV vans, which have a tendency to park where it's convenient.

Integrating lot with the community

The letter asks for several steps to better integrate the lot with the community:

  • better screening--opaque masonry with more transparent metal fencing--rather than displays more suited to a temporary construction fence
  • bring street trees back
  • only directional lighting, to protect residents
  • add benches and planters, as provided in an illustration
This illustration uses the base photo from the ESDC website and thus suggests the lot is larger than actual size.
Permanent location?

The letter, which was sent to several public officials, Community Boards, and city agencies, concludes:
In the near future we hope a permanent location for the Satellite Uplink Parking Lot can be identified where there is a lower risk of impacting residents.
Satellite Uplink Parking Lot Dean Street Block Association