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"Shitshow corner": arena operations, project construction frustrate nearest neighbors

The next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Community Meeting, on Nov. 1 at 6 pm, is supposed to "present an overview of the upcoming construction activities surrounding the project."

But it also serves as an opportunity to ask question, and for neighbors to tell representatives of the developer, Greenland Forest City Partners, and the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, Empire State Development, how it looks from their end. For those closest to the project, it's not pretty.

View of dust stirred up by 535 Carlton construction
Though concerns about the operations of the planned middle school at 664 Pacific were a key part of last week's Dean Street Block Association (DSBA) meeting, threaded through was frustration about the overall impact of Barclays Center operations (such as rowdy hockey fans or a blocked Dean Street) and Pacific Park construction, and the attendant lack of accountability.

As one resident put it, the intersection of Carlton Avenue and Pacific Street is "shitshow corner." Residents experience large construction vehicles/trucks on the narrow street and impromptu street blocking by utility contractors.

"There's no in-the-moment accountability," she said. "It's intolerable to live here. It's just that residents don't matter."

"I am going to look into a better way," said Council Member Laurie Cumbo. The 55 or so attendees--a diverse group in terms of class, race, and tenure in the neighborhood--seemed receptive, if wary.

Dean Street outside Barclays Center, this past Tuesday
Peter Krashes of the DSBA said it was unclear whether the Department of Transportation or the New York Police Department was in charge of enforcement when it came to certain street issues.

That wasn't resolved, though the DOT's Abigail Ikner did say that, while closing streets typically requires DOT notice to the public, utility companies that encounter emergency situations have license to close the street.

Shortly afterward, a resident of Carlton Avenue near Pacific Street sent me the photo above, which shows the significant dust stirred up by construction at the 535 Carlton tower just across the street.

The Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments the developer signed with the state requires a Dust Management Plan, and environmental monitors are supposed to assess the site. Perhaps we'll hear more about it at the next meeting.

Questioning an arena rep

Other issues were raised, Arena workers sometimes fight on Dean Street, one resident said, while other workers hang out on the street. Arena Community Affairs representative Terence Kelly said it was the first he'd heard of it.

Has there been a change in security staffing at the arena, Kelly was asked.

"We wouldn't discuss our staffing in public," he responded.

A Bergen Street resident said that, when arena events load in, there's always a backlog of trucks on the street.

Kelly allowed that, for one event, an electronic sports show, there's been a clash with trucks serving a nearby construction project, the former Bergen Tile site.

The problem was bigger than that, Kelly was told, prompting his response: "We have procedures in place that are effective."

It was, though he didn't say so, a bit of a goodbye performance, as Kelly has since left his position (as new Community Relations VP Roland Guevara said at a community meeting last night).

Ongoing impacts

Residents complained that project construction workers eat lunch in the Dean Playground. That's not allowed, said the Parks Department's Marty Maher, though it was unclear how that would be enforced.

Cumbo was told that project impacts--such as the MTV Video Music Awards show that took over the street--are often imposed with notification but not consultation.

"The only neighborhood outreach" regarding the giant construction fence around the southeast block of the project site, one resident said, "was 'we'll paint some nice murals.'" The audience laughed sardonically.

The resident said that, during arena events, SUVs (presumably waiting to pick up VIPs later) idle on Bergen Street--"that's my kid's bedroom." On other days, "the whole house is shaking because an 18-wheeler hasn't turned off his engine. It's just an unhealthy and unsafe environment."

However, his suggestion of speed bumps was met with the reminder that a bus route like Bergen can't accommodate them.

Krashes noted that, in May 2016, the Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance (BCIZA) expressed concern about lack of accountability from the state regarding project impacts, and in response to that letter, was told it could invite agency representatives to state meetings. The City Council rep, he said, could help in that effort, and Cumbo responded, "Let's do it."

"Have the meeting at Carlton and Pacific at 6:30 [am]," one resident said, to laughter.

Cumbo, to her credit, showed up at the meeting, as did Maher and Ikner. Some other invited representatives did not.

Other reports

On Atlantic Yards Watch, a resident who lives on Dean Street very near Carlton Avenue reported
Foul smell and apartment shaking on 9/28/16:
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week there block and my apartment we filled with a foul & toxic smell. There was no work being done in our building and the smell increased upon leaving the apartment, coming from the corner of Dean & Carlton.
For the past two days, while sitting at my desk at the front of the building, there is a vibration felt through my keyboard .... once again there is no construction going on in our building.
Another resident reported "No Parking" signs improperly taped to trees, as shown in the photo above.

As Krashes reported via Atlantic Yards Watch, during the first week of the month, a truck and another construction vehicle from a contractor were unloading on Dean Street east of the bus stop located between Carlton and Vanderbilt, potentially blocking bus or emergency vehicles, and without any notice. See photo below.


Also, a construction truck was parked in the bus stop on Dean west of the intersection with Carlton, though no sign indicated the bus stop had closed.



Below, a resident expressed frustration about overnight work.

A photo posted by Carlton Ave Bk (@carltonavebk) on


The TV truck parking lot

Given that the parking lot east of Sixth Avenue between Dean and Pacific streets is gone, where does the Barclays Center send satellite TV trucks?

While arena operators work on a long-term solution, Kelly said, "for now we're using Flatbush Avenue, near the Nets' store." He added that most vehicles go inside, given that there's broadcast capacity inside the building.

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