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Dean Street Block Association statement: Community group says new Atlantic Yards accord leaves them at risk

A statement from the Dean Street Block Association:
Community group says new Atlantic Yards accord leaves them at risk

Neighbors who live closest to Atlantic Yards and absorb the most adverse impacts from it are not satisfied with the new Atlantic Yards accord between the State and a number of local civic organizations and groups. Because the oversight created is just advisory and insufficiently defined, Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt spoke against its approval today to the Empire State Development board.

“The oversight regime created as a product of the 5th Avenue Committee/BrooklynSpeaks agreement is not adequate to the concerns our block association members and their neighbors raise,” Rhona Hetsrony, the block association’s President said. The residents in the area of Dean Street were defined as most impacted by adverse construction impacts in the court-ordered SEIS the State adopted two weeks ago. Much of the 1200 page document is about impacts to the area the block association represents.

The newly created oversight board is ADVISORY with nine of fourteen members appointed by the Governor. Decision-making and enforcement will stay as always with the overarching ESD board, also appointed by the Governor. The funding and staff of the new board is undefined, and there is no description whatsoever of how the board will fulfill its key mission of monitoring on-site conditions. Even though there is currently little ongoing construction, this week alone residents have identified repeated incidents of obstructed travel lanes and bike lanes as well as noisy early morning work outside allowable hours.

“There is no one with any knowledge of Atlantic Yards who would expect an unsecured promise of future performance to be fulfilled, when so many promises haven’t been met already,” said Hetsrony. “The history of Atlantic Yards is that the devil is in the details. What is delivered is rarely more than what is spelled out in written agreements.”

More individuals associated with Dean Street Block Association, 6th Avenue to Vanderbilt wrote responses as part of the DSEIS and MGPP review process than any other organized civic organization or coalition. Most voices pleaded for responsiveness and accountability for the community and public from the developer and State.

“We are dependent on project oversight, we know it well, and all of us asked for it to be reformed and empowered in response to the specific concerns we detailed,” Hetsrony said. Most specifically, the group requested an impartial and motivated environmental monitor on-site to keep the State accurately informed of site conditions. Currently on-site monitoring is routed through the developer. The SEIS acknowledges that community members may have identified hundreds of incidents of non-compliance with the environmental commitments that are part of the project agreements.
Below is the testimony to ESD today.