Skip to main content

Out of sync: while state's environmental consultant provides reports after six months, residents seek response to daily impacts

This is among multiple articles covering issues raised at the March 15 Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting.

How mitigate the impacts from construction at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park site? There was a huge divide evident at the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation meeting 3/15/16 between the formal exercise of oversight and real-time effectiveness, which leads to unresolved, dismaying reports like the one below.

As noted, the most recent Construction Alert does not indicate any after-hours work, though there is a catchall excuse, which says the "scope and nature of activities are subject to change based upon field conditions."

If so, there should be some way for residents to be informed in real time. Instead, as meeting attendees learned, it takes six months for reports from the state's consultant to be delivered to the AY CDC board, which lowers the chance the board can offer effective advice and oversight to Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversees/shepherds the project.

Six months for quarterly reports

Marion Phillips III, an ESD executive and also president of the AY CDC, explained (see 4:23 of video below) that there were delays in delivering the three most recent 2015 quarterly reports by the state's environmental monitor, HDR, which were received by the board six months after the period overseen--in other words, they just got the Third Quarter 2015 reports.

Board member Jaime Stein, a Pratt Institute academic who's been the most persistent questioner on the AY CDC board, asked HDR's Jeff Martirano to explain the process.

While HDR tries to begin its review of the developers' (and contractors') compliance with mitigation requirements a month the quarter ends, Martirano said, it takes one to two months after the quarter to get the developer's report, which HDR must review, and then analyze. Then comes a cycle of consultation with ESD. But Phillips said they'd try to work faster.

Community complaints unanswered

Two residents, persistent monitors of construction and operational impacts (who post reports I often use), offered forceful comments at the end of the meeting, during the public comment period. The board members were understandably weary, since the meeting had started 30 minutes late, and dragged on because of two presentations from project architects, which drew no questions.

At this point, Buffalo-based ESD CEO Howard Zemsky, who chaired his first AY CDC meeting and (not surprisingly) seemed less aware of the project than his Brooklyn-based predecessor, Kenneth Adams, had left the session.

At 1:25 of the video, Phillips announced the comment period, aiming to move the meeting along. At 1:27, Newswalk resident Wayne Bailey expressed exasperation: "I just cannot believe that we're still talking about collecting data, when we have over eight years worth of data... What is the enforcement mechanism?"

He cited repeated violations, such as trucking companies that don't' use flaggers or park on the sidewalks. "I see the monitors out there, but where's the enforcement mechanism?... When they were demoing [the] B15 [site], there was massive amounts of dust, everyone was pluming, I videotaped it" But no one told them to stop.

Bailey added that, though community members had walked the site with representatives of the state and the city Department of Transportation, "we’ve never gotten one report back" on how to lower the impacts of traffic. "It’s never ending for us.. now they're working after hours on Saturdays and Sundays."

At 1:29 of the video, Dean Street resident Peter Krashes noted that the state's log of incident reports did not include all police reports, and omitted the various incident reports now being posted on Instagram, such as under the #bciza [Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance] hashtag.

"It's time for the executives who work with ESD to enable the community to assist with the job that you guys do," Krashes said, offering help that may not be that welcome. "What's the protocol when something goes wrong," he asked. :If you're transparent in explaining what you're doing, we can help you improve the situation."

The bottom line

That didn't really get answered, though ESD executive Joe Chan, who chaired the meeting after Zemsky left, noted that it was important to discuss certain issues with the New York City Police Department and the city Department of Transportation, and NYPD wasn't there. (DOT's Leroy Branch was there, but ESD and AY CDC officials made no attempt to query him.)

While it's true that some issues are outside ESD's scope, most of what Bailey and Krashes brought up regarded the oversight by the ESD's own monitors. And, as the Instagram posts below show, the complaints continue.


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 (post-dated pinned post)

This graphic, posted in November 2017, 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 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.

The previous graphic, from August 2017 (without the ghost B1)

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…

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 …