At Atlantic Yards meeting, frustration and lack of resolution experienced by nearest residents suggests Beckett
Abigail Ikner, the Department of Transportation representative who asserted that Dean Street would clear up, faced some tough questions.
He then brought up the problems facing Dean Street, and Ikner said that issue had already been covered, but didn't address his Pacific Street request.
The next morning, as residents moved their cars out, cones were put to hold the spots, and construction workers coming to work took those spots.
Later in the meeting, Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton, who represents the joint venture Greenland Forest City Partners, called the situation "terrible" and "completely unacceptable."
That day, she reported, "Charlie called [Forest City staffer] Roberta [Fearon], who immediately reached out to contractors, said you guys should move those cars immediately. Again, it’s legal parking at that point. At that point, the deed, and the very bad deed, was done. It's unacceptable. I’ve never heard an incident like that before. I don’t think it’s happened since. That doesn’t make it any better.
"We have a different hammer," Cotton continued. "We're not enforcement, but we pay these people, so we’re very motivated to make sure the behavior is appropriate… It shouldn’t happen again; if it does, don’t hesitate to call us."
So she implied without certifying it that some penalty may have been imposed, or might be imposed in the future.
How much oversight? How much reporting?
Empire State Development Community Affairs rep Nicole Jordan explained, especially to some newcomers, that ESD had a full-time--if in daytime hours--field inspector, Greg Lynch, who takes photos of issues that need to be reported, but does not go behind construction fences.
"Flatbush and Fourth [avenues] is not walked," one resident commented. "That's why we see food and garbage, from the arena."
ESD, she said, does not have the jurisdiction to take action on, say, idling trucks, but will forward it to the appropriate agencies, and Forest City, "to make sure an incident does not happen again." (Of course that hasn't exactly stopped the problems.) ESD also has consultants, STV and HDR, that monitor the project, and can go behind fences.
The number of incidents being complained about, she said, has gone down. However, that may well be an artifact of community fatigue and the fact that the state only counts incidents that are submitted directly to ESD through phone calls or emails, to Lynch, or forwarded via the Atlantic Yards Watch site, the use of which has gone down significantly.
The state cannot collect project-related data from 311 complaints, and reps claim not to monitor social media, including Instagram, which has become a more popular site for reporting problems, under the tag #bciza, for Barclays Center Impact Zone Alliance.
That said, in 2015, the state was supposed to produce a new app, or digital solution, to allow easy reporting of all incidents. That's been put on hold multiple times, so in lieu of offering that solution, I'd think ESD might stretch a little more to monitor incidents.
Later, Forest City's Cotton said, "I want to say what the state just said. Don't wait 'til this meeting, feel free to contact us. I know some people post on social media, I'm not monitoring social media."
Of course the developer is actively using social media to promote the project.
Dust in the neighborhood
|Oct. 18 dust incident|
Jordan said that the Department of Environmental Protection investigated, and "their official response was there were no toxins" or "violations of dust management procedures." Martin didn't get an answer regarding the composition. Nor was the product identified.
Jordan said the incident she was tracking was September 27, but there was another incident, unmentioned at the meeting, on Oct. 18.
At the 461 Dean modular tower flanking the Barclays Center, Cotton said, "tenants are going to move in this month." As those who won the lottery for the 181 affordable units get approved by city agencies, "as people free themselves to move, you are going to start to see move-ins happen." The 181 market-rate units are also being marketed now.
Regarding 664 Pacific (aka B15), the market-rate tower just east of Sixth Avenue containing a school, "we are still in litigation with the people who own property next door," she said, regarding access to 497 Dean to shore up the structure during construction.
For the two buildings on Block 1129, the southeast block of the project between Vanderbilt and Carlton avenues and Dean and Pacific streets, "we are in total TCO [Temporary Certificate of Occupancy] mode," she said, which will allow people in the lower floors to move in.
The lottery for 535 Carlton has closed, and Greenland Forest City hopes for people to move into that and the 550 Vanderbilt condo in December or "definitely January." That will mean the "green monster" fence surrounding the block will be partly moved in, and sidewalks and some parking restored.
Cotton showed slides of the interim open space, and permanent open space for the two buildings. There will be grass, an interactive play and seating area, and pavings. Plantings will be installed in the spring, and construction work continues. (I'll add graphics when the presentation is posted.)
The open space, obviously, does not yet extend to the demapped Pacific Street.
"The whole project got input from the community when it got approved," Cotton said, "it went through public approvals years and years ago."
"It was voted on by public parties that you guys elected," Cotton continued, which was not quite true: though subsidies were voted on by elected bodies (as part of omnibus bills), the project was approved by the appointed ESD board.
Tobi Jaiyesimi, executive director of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, pointed out that the the open space is being designed according to the design guidelines, and had been presented at the Quality of Life meeting and the AY CDC.
Cotton followed up, saying that landscape architect Thomas Balsley came to the meeting, but "it was not a public charrette."
Asked the size of the temporary open space around 535 Carlton, she said it was a half acre.
Cotton said she had no update. (The Site 5 plan is on hold because of litigation with P.C. Richard, an owner of one of the two properties there.)
Illegal parking outside the arena
|At the Islanders' home debut|
"We've talked about it many times," Cotton responded. "It’s a situation that has been been sorted out with the police, in order not to have those cars in other places that no one would want. They tuck in nicely. Obviously it’s not a permanent solution."
Without the complainant present, Bailey, who also chairs the 78th Precinct Community Council, cited the harassment issue brought up at last week's Precinct Council meeting, in which a woman and her wife were harassed by construction workers outside the arena (though it's not definite they were working on the project).
Jordan said she got an update from the NYPD regarding what was said at the meeting.
"I want to know about oversight," Bailey said. "She [the victim] couldn't identify them because they didn't have the labels, the hats." After a previous harassment incident, contractors are supposed to wear color-coded ID stickers, but not all do.
Cotton said that, after the incident, the woman "spoke to the super [site superintendent] of a building [project]. We were notified immediately. She was asked to call 911, she chose not to... she was asked if she’d like to speak to us directly. She didn't."
"So I get put in a tough place," Cotton said. "So help us get the incidents reported, so we can arrest the people, so we can go ID the people, we are here to be responsive to it. It's a little tough when we hear it way after the fact."
"As for stickers and IDs, those are not state-regulated," she added. "It's not in any of their regulatory documents." Some workers don't have the stickers or IDs "because we are hiring people on such an ongoing basis."