Skip to main content

Who's responsible for late-night lights at the Vanderbilt Yard? In Final SEIS, ESD blames MTA

It's confusing, and confounding.

Disturbing late-night lighting appears at or near the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard, and it's not clear each time who's responsible, or whether anything can be done.

Last night, for example, as noted on Atlantic Yards Watch, high-intensity floodlights were on with no notice, disturbing residents of the nearby Newswalk building across Pacific Street. (Here's video.) Lights were on all night.

Was that Atlantic Yards work? Long Island Rail Road work? Unclear.

Update 2:55 pm: MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg says, "We were not doing any work there last night. We are investigating whether we inadvertently left lights on that were required for earlier work. In the future, our crews will work carefully to ensure that all construction lights are extinguished once we no longer need them."

The lighting--never before needed before Atlantic Yards, residents say--was described as "brutally high intensity" in comments on the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS).

ESD: it's not Atlantic Yards

In the Response to Comments chapter of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement issued and approved last week, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards, eschewed all responsibility:
As described in Chapter 3F, “Construction Urban Design,” as per the MEC [Memorandum of Environmental Commitments], any lighting on interim construction staging and parking areas must be equipped with directional lighting angled to limit light intrusion beyond the site, and must employ controls to reduce lighting during periods when the facility is not in active use, consistent with site security. Furthermore, any construction lighting on individual construction sites would be directional, and angled to limit light intrusion beyond the site itself. As described in Chapter 3A, “Construction Overview,” no regular night work is expected to be required for Phase II construction except at limited times when foundation and construction work for the platform deck over the existing LIRR yard is required to avoid interference with yard operations of the LIRR. However, MTA conducts routine rail work (unrelated to the Project) which may require nighttime lighting. As this routine yard work by MTA is not subject to the Project’s MEC, it does not operate under the same lighting limitations.
Two gaps

That's a legalistic but not particularly helpful response. Shouldn't ESD and developer Forest City Ratner, wanting to be good neighbors, at least communicate and coordinate with MTA regarding such issues?

Also, there are two gaps in that description. First, the foundation and construction work for the platform deck may represent "at limited times" in comparison to a potential 25-year project construction schedule, it still could represent a substantial amount of time.

Also, there has been Atlantic Yards-related night work requiring high-intensity lighting, such as exploratory work in April for the West Portal railyard project, at Sixth and Atlantic avenues.

At the latest Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting, residents on both sides of the railyard complained about overnight light and noise.

Forest City Ratner External Affairs VP Ashley Cotton suggested residents had not gotten the two-week Construction Alerts, which stated that the city Department of Transportation required the work to be done at night.

However, the alerts did not explain that the work would require floodlights and beeping noise.

Also, as I pointed out, the work began, at least according to Forest City, on the evening of March 25, as disclosed in a Supplemental Report (sent by, not ESD) to the March 17 two-week look-ahead, which had not alerted anybody to such night work. 

The sequence seems suspicious. Surely Forest City knew eight days earlier that night work was planned.

However, that Supplemental Report was circulated on March 26 the day after the work was supposed to begin. (The disclosure did continue in the two-week look-aheads dated March 31 and April 14.)

Where's MTA?

Some at the Quality of Life Committee meeting raised questions about the MTA's role.

"I asked for MTA to be at this meeting," said Dean Street resident Peter Krashes. "The fact that they're not here--they're the entity the work is happening on behalf of. They're the entity that oversees construction."

"We've been talking to the MTA," added Paula Roy, who oversees the project for ESD, from the audience.

"It’s insulting to us for them not to show up," Krashes continued. "It's insulting for ESD to allow it. Not everyone can have a scheduling problem."


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 …

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

This graphic, posted in February 2018, is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. Note the unbuilt B1 and the proposed--but not yet approved--shift in bulk to the unbuilt Site 5.

The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change. The project is already well behind that tentative timetable.

How many people are expected?

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park has a projected 6,430 apartments housing 2.1 persons per unit (as per Chapter 4 of the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement), which would mean 13,503 new residents, with 1,890 among them in low-income affordable rentals, and 2,835 in moderate- and middle-income affordable rentals.

That leaves 8,778 people in market-rate rentals and condos, though let's call it 8,358 after subtracting 420 who may live in 200 promised below-market condos. So that's 5,145 in below-market units, though many of them won…

The passing of David Sheets, Dean Street renter, former Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality

David Sheets, longtime Dean Street renter, Freddy's bartender, eminent domain plaintiff, and singular personality, died 1/17/18 in HCA Greenview Hospital in Bowling Green, KY. He was 56.

There are obituary notices in the Bowling Green Daily News and the Wichita Eagle, which state:
He was born in Wichita, KS where he attended public Schools and Wichita State University. He lived for many years in Brooklyn, NY, and was employed as a legal assistant. David's hobby was cartography and had an avid interest in Mass Transit Systems of the world. David was predeceased by his father, Kenneth E. Sheets. He is survived by his mother, Wilma Smith, step-brother, Billy Ray Smith and his wife, Jane all of Bowling Green; step-sister, Ellen Smith Alexander and her husband, Jerry of Bella Vista, AR; several cousins and step-nieces and step-nephews also survive. Memorial Services will be on Monday, January 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm with visitation from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm Monday at Johnson-Vaughn-Phe…

Some skepticism on Belmont hockey deal: lease value seems far below Aqueduct racino; unclear (but large?) cost for LIRR service

As I wrote for The Bridge 12/20/1, The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, the press conference announcing a new arena at Belmont Park for the New York Islanders was "long on pomp... but short on specifics."

Notably, a lease valued at $40 million "upfront to lease up to 43 acres over 49 years... seems like a good deal on rent for the state-controlled property." Also, the Long Island Rail Road will expand service to Belmont.

That indicates public support for an arena widely described as "privately financed," but how much? We don't know yet, but some more details--or at least questions--have emerged.

An Aqueduct comparable?

Well, we don't know what the other bid was, and there aren't exactly parcels that large offering direct comparables.

But consider: Genting New York LLC in September 2010 was granted a franchise to operate a video lottery terminal under a 30 year lease on 67 acres at Aqueduct Park (as noted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo).


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 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…