Skip to main content

Harassment incident outside the arena: construction workers (from project?) harass passers-by, throw beer cans (+ unresolved security discussion)

An ugly harassment incident, with perhaps homophobic overtones, happened recently outside the Barclays Center, though some key details--such as whether the workers involved were connected to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park--remain uncertain.

A Prospect Heights resident, speaking Tuesday night at the meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, reported on a incident that occurred adjacent to the arena Saturday Oct. 8.

The incident, she said, occurred "two weeks ago" at 11 am on a Saturday. "My wife and I were on the Atlantic [Avenue] side of Barclays," she said. They walked by two construction workers, who were drinking, smoking pot, and harassing passers-by.

The resident--who was not comfortable sharing her name publicly--admonished the workers, to no avail. "They basically threw their beer cans at me," she reported. "I felt unsafe."

She didn't specifically identify the workers, but said "they were with the telco people."

The connection is murky. The two previous Construction Updates do not mention telecommunications workers at the arena site, or on a weekend. They state, "During this period Optimum and Verizon communications will have crews on Pacific Street between Vanderbilt & Carlton Avenues installing infrastructure for B11 and B14." That's one long block away from the arena.

During breaks, it's not unknown for workers to leave the immediate area of the work site, and it's also not unknown for work on site to not be foreshadowed in the Construction Update.

Following up

I wasn't able to get more information (and it was not stated that a police report was filed), though perhaps more will surface at the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Community Update meeting, which is Nov. 1 at 6 pm.

On Wednesday, I asked representatives of Greenland Forest City Partners, as well Empire State Development, if they knew about the incident, and whether workers related to the project--or another project--would have been outside the arena.

I didn't get a response, but will post an update if/when I do.

I also asked if workers from contractors like Optimum/Verizon receive the same training regarding sexual harassment as construction contractors now provide.

After all, if the workers were connected with the project, that suggests the need for some intervention. Starting in April, a long-promised color-coded identification system was introduced, making it easier to recognize project construction workers and putting them on notice. (See photo above right.)

That grew out of reports by a neighborhood resident that the daily harassment she experienced was like "living in a shark tank," and that she'd been a victim of sexual misconduct, at minimum, from men apparently leaving an arena boxing match.

Past discussion on security

The issue of security came up, perhaps presciently in retrospect, at the 9/20/16 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), set up to advise Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park.




At about 18 minutes into the discussion, board member Barika Williams cautioned that ESD may classify certain incidents as closed while she considered them unresolved. "I don't think we closed the issue of security, not just for the Barclays Center itself but also for the area in general," she said, nothing that a reported issue was not a resolved one.

"We wanted a report on security issues and the security protocol not just for Barclays but for the area in general," she said. Williams proposed looking into the cost of putting up "emergency poles"--presumably bearing call-in devices--throughout the site.

"I think there's a real security concern going forward, especially with the number of construction workers on the site," she said. "We've already had one incident. I'm definitely concerned about what that looks like when we start to having kids and teenage girls on the same site with all these workers."

She got a partial answer from ESD's Marion Phillips III about increasing the amount of information to locals, and making Greg Lynch, a state employee tasked to observe question, more visible.

But the usefulness of potential security hardware becomes more clear in light of the recent incident.

Board member Jaime Stein noted that notes from a community meeting in June indicated that a representative from Tishman Construction, a contractor on the site, couldn't clarify how many workers had actually gotten ID stickers.

Tobi Jaiyesimi, executive directior of the AY CDC, said that reflected the fact that some subcontractors were on site temporarily. She added that the ID system was once centrally operated when launched by the project developer, but each contractor now has their own ID tagging machine.

Arena security issues

Asked to share information about the arena security protocol, Barclays Center spokesman Terence Kelly (since departed) said that, while arena officials regularly meet with police, and attend monthly 78th Precinct Community Council meetings, "the nature and extent to which I can discuss our security protocol would be limited, especially with such high profile events."

Phillips suggested that directors wanted to know how the arena put a plan together, and Williams asked how they dealt with "a situation unfolding, a crowd that's escalating, how do you handle that... when it's flowing into neighborhoods?"

Kelly said the arena does significant preplanning with law enforcement agencies. " I believe that we do provide an additional safety net with the personnel outside," to allow safe passage across Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, "to serve as a deterrent against bad behavior... We are mindful that it will not be the end of it."

"in reference to the boxing event"--the previous harassment case--"I can't comment on that, it's a matter that has gone to litigation," Kelly said, adding that "we have made adjustments and improvements" and will continue to make adjustments "based on feedback from community members, law enforcement and bodies such as this."

Note: I checked, and could not find any court case involving the boxing event.

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…

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…

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…

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 …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…