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In advance of today's AY CDC meeting, block association questions ESD's responsiveness

Note that the meeting is May 19, not March 19
The proposed agenda for today's 3 pm meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) doesn't have a lot of detail, but it includes the following topics:
  • Community Relations Update
  • Project Update
  • Barclays Event Protocols
The meeting will be held at:
New York State Department of Labor - Brooklyn Office
250 Schermerhorn Street,
Orientation Room #2 – First Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201
Letter: state falls short

One issue that may come up in the public comments is a letter (text below) sent by the Dean Street Block Association (DSBA) to Empire State Development that contends that the state agency has not sufficiently responded to complaints and other public input, and restricted information available to the public. The letter is on the DSBA web site.

The DSBA represents neighbors directly adjacent to the project site and most vulnerable to late-night noise, errant trucks, and other violations of--or inadequate--construction protocols.

As noted in the letter, the public meetings held by the state--previously called Quality of Life Committee, now Community Update--have become less accountable. "The community seeks a qualitative response received in a timely way," the DSBA says.

The block association asked the staff and executives of the state agency to provide the new AY CDC board "with the data and documentation they have collected of community concerns and ESDC’s responses since Atlantic Yards project’s approval," as a way to better offer input on the project.

The letter
We believe the information the community has made available to the State throughout the construction-phase of the Project would have created timely improvements if it had been responded to when made available. Likewise, we believe the State has limited the opportunity for the community to suggest improvements by restricting the comprehensiveness, and delaying the release of the information it makes public.
Among other things, the various versions of meetings the State sanctions with the community, (the District Service Cabinet, Quality of Life, and Community Update meetings), have been missed opportunities for the community to assist the State in improving the  Project. Although no version has truly been successful, each subsequent iteration has been less successful than the one before it.
To our knowledge, official minutes have rarely if ever been kept and no recording has been allowed. The most recent iteration is apparently directed toward the dissemination of information that could be released more productively in other ways.
Likewise, the complaints received in the interim between meetings, whether by direct interaction or Atlantic Yards Watch, have often not received responses in a timely way, and when those responses have been received, they often fall short qualitatively, whether because the response is directed toward a part rather than the whole concern, or because they are rhetorical and indirect. The community seeks a qualitative response received in a timely way.
At its last meeting the AYCDC board discussed the need to assess the ESD’s “performance metrics” and methods as a means to judge the quality of the State’s oversight of the Project’s environmental commitments. The ESD staff provided a log of community concerns to the board members and stated a log of its nature had only been maintained since January 2015. The ESD staff and executives did not offer additional material from earlier in the project. Our community has experienced adverse construction impacts related to the project since 2005, and we have given input to the State in good faith for much of that same period through meetings, 311 complaints, telephone calls, and emails with ESDC executives including Jennifer Maldonado, Forrest Taylor, Arana Hankin, Derek Lynch, Rachel Shatz, and Nicole Jordan. As a means to identifying and tracking patterns over time, we have kept records of many of those interactions. We ask the staff and executives of the ESDC to provide the new AYCDC board with the data and documentation they have collected of community concerns and ESDC’s responses since Atlantic Yards project’s approval. We believe reviewing the State and community’s past records is the best opportunity the new AYCDC board has, and we hope the State assists us in working with the board to succeed.
Fortunately, along with the community’s institutional knowledge, there is meaningful continuity in the ESD in respect to overseeing environmental impacts related to the Project. Rachel Shatz, ESD’s Vice President, Planning and Environmental Review, has worked on the project in the same relative position since before the project was approved, and continues in that position.
It is our goal to create accountability and transparency with the State as a means to improving adherence to the environmental commitments that are an intrinsic part of the Project’s implementation, while also working to improve the final outcome of the Project. The community has given input and expressed its concerns about many of the same issues for years. What we need is a State agency that wants to work with the community and the public to improve the project it oversees.


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