Skip to main content

At tonight's Community Update meeting, expect discussion about logging and responding to project-related incidents

Update: note belated, bland agenda at right.

At tonight's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting, expect a discussion of how well Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, tracks incursions on the neighborhood from construction or arena operations.

At the 4/13/16 Community Update meeting, where responses to harassment dominated discussion, there was a frustrated set of exchanges regarding that issue. And at last month's Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting, that issue recurred--along with a meta-discussion about how well the minutes of the Community Update meeting were conveyed to the AY CDC directors.

At the April Community Update

After ESD's Community Affairs officer Nicole Jordan explained that incidents posted on Atlantic Yards Watch were immediately forwarded to her, Peter Krashes of the Dean Street Block Association noted that many incidents he knew of were not listed in a state log shared with the AY CDC, the gubernatorially-controlled advisory board set up in 2014.

If "the board is only being told about a part of the concerns, then you guys have dropped the ball," Krashes said, adding that the log contained no complaints posted to the city's 311 portal nor the many more than 100 Instagram posts (tagged #BCIZA, for Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance) documenting impacts.

"You guys have a responsibility to try at least to be complete," Krashes said. "You’re never going to be perfect, but it's really inadequate, it's offensively inadequate."


After another resident reinforced that all incidents should be reported, ESD Senior VP (and AY CDC President) Marion Phillips III said "you make some very good points." He said they'd aim to work better with 311 and would be "more than happy to look at all complaints."

A new avenue?

"The concern and indignation and outrage that’s been voiced about some of these incidents is totally understandable," said Gib Veconi of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC), which as a member of the coalition BrooklynSpeaks brokered the agreement that got an earlier timetable (with a 2025 deadline, after an extension to 2035) for the project and also the advisory AY CDC, which was less than the oversight body once sought.

" I just would like everybody to respectfully ask to please be recognized by somebody in the front of the room, or we--"

"--But we don't get answers, so we need a long meeting," interrupted resident Wayne Bailey, a frequent poster on Instagram, and formerly on Atlantic Yards Watch (AYW), which was set up by a consortium including PHNDC. (Several people find Instagram easier/faster to use, and without any gatekeeper. The Dean Street Block Association left PHNDC in 2014, citing concerns about inadequate oversight.)

"I’m very sensitive to these issues, I run a web site called Atlantic Yards Watch," Veconi said, as Krashes, another former frequent poster on AYW, looked somewhat exasperated, "and I’m very very sensitive to what’s going on. We do have a lot of material to get through tonight." 

At the previous AY CDC meeting, he said, there was discussion about putting together a centralized database of incidents (aka app) that also would be mobile-friendly. (It was supposed to be done last year.) "Until we get to that point, we're going to continue to have these discussions about the inadequacy of the current system."

"I'm not able to give detailed updates about the app, but it is on the front burner," said Tobi Jaiyesimi, the AY CDC Executive Director who now also is ESD's point person on Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park. She acknowledged that "there seems to have been a long lag...I can assure you that it will be done to the highest standard and done to meet the need within the confines of what we have available to us."

Bailey wasn't placated. "After years, why do we keep need to aggregating data?" he shouted from the back of the room, noting the request to "call Ashley" Cotton of developer Forest City Ratner. "It’s been ten years. No flaggers, traffic jams, harassment.., Just this weekend, I've gotten over 40 calls about noise... how much more data does anyone need? Why can't anybody be accountable?"

"I hear your concerns, and I appreciate you making a statement," Jaiyesimi replied bureaucratically.

Krashes emphasized--and Jaiyesimi acknowledged--the community request for transparency and openness regarding the new database, so the public can comment. "We need to get beyond what I think is a dysfunctional relationship between community and oversight," he said. "It's great to aggregate all the complaints, but that puts responsibility on the community to identify problems and pass them forward... we're tired of that…. We shouldn’t be finding as many as we do."

He noted that the developers used to have security vehicles that circle the site, and asked why there aren't any more. Cotton said she didn't know. "It would be extremely effective, to have that, combined with a head of security who comes to these meetings and deals with the community directly," he said.

At the AY CDC


At the AY CDC meeting last month, Jordan explained that the directors had received notes from the Community Update meeting, and the ESD log of incidents, and noted 14 additional incidents. Most were described as resolved.

Several incidents, noted director Barika Williams, regard the area around the Barclays Center. "How are we thinking about how we communicate with Barclays?" she asked.

Jordan said parking is the New York Police Department's jurisdiction, so "they do not expect me to do anything additional." She noted that she communicated with the arena liaison.

That of course leaves a gap, since it's in the arena's interest to have free street parking for patrons, as well as places for limos and black cars to idle, often illegally. The NYPD understandably prioritizes crime-fighting, so it's an issue that, I believe, the mayor's office can resolve.

AY CDC member Julene Beckford, an ESD lawyer, said she thought the notes from the Community Update meeting were "really helpful."

By contrast, director Jaime Stein, whose candidacy was pushed by the Dean Street Block Association, said she'd been to the meeting and thought some details were missing. She noted that some directors had asked for meeting minutes, and that community members have asked that the meetings be videotaped (which has been banned).

Director Liz Harris, Assistant Secretary for Agriculture and Markets to the Governor, said she'd been to the meeting and thought the minutes "were pretty comprehensive," and thus challenged Stein to clarify.

Stein noted that it had not been made clear that sexual harassment concerns were related both to construction workers and arena operations. She said she had given some feedback to Jaiyesimi, and also asked the woman who'd gone public regarding sexual harassment to speak, which she did.

New board member Daniel Kummer noted a letter from project neighbors to the AY CDC about accountability, and suggested that a smaller group focus on the issue. He urged all to come up with a solution that's "realistic... and proportional to the problem."

Krashes noted the challenges of getting reports about long-past incidents. "We'd like somebody who’s actually managing the project from the state, who’s present, and can manage issues when they occur...instead there are quarterly reports."

He noted that the ESD's environmental monitor, HDR, logs violations of a Memorandum of Environmental Commitments (MEC) agreed to by the developer and the state, but many complaints are violations of city regulations. "The MEC is a contract between developer and the state," he said. "It doesn’t actually describe the impact of construction on the community."

Comments

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 …

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 Matzav.com 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…

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

Click on graphic to enlarge. This is post-dated to stay at the top of the blog. It will be updated as announced configurations change and buildings launch. The August 2014 tentative configurations proposed by developer Greenland Forest City Partners will change, and the project is already well behind that tentative timetable.


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…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…