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When the state doesn't hold developer accountable, community frustrations emerge at NYPD meeting

The scheduled Dec. 13 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Community Update meeting, in which representatives of developer Greenland Forest City Partners and Empire State Development (the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project) answer questions, was postponed six weeks until Jan. 24.

So that meant, confoundingly, that the only times in the last six weeks the public could question a government representative about project impacts came at the end-of-month meetings of the New York Police Department's (NYPD) 78th Precinct Community Council, where a variety of precinct-related issues are typically addressed.

And cracking down on a project that has so little margin for error is surely not the NYPD priority.

On the morning of 11/28/16, as Dean Street resident Peter Krashes wrote on Atlantic Yards Watch, blocked crosswalks at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, caused by construction at both 461 Dean (part of Pacific Park) and 215 Flatbush (separate), caused pedestrians to walk on Flatbush rather than on a sidewalk. (See photo at right)

Other sidewalks on Dean were blocked, as well, and no flaggers were present.

At the very brief meeting last week, Precinct Commanding Officer Frank DiGiacomo, said, in response to Krashes' continued mention of problems at their intersection, that "one side [of the construction on Dean] went over their permit." It wasn't clear whether it was 461 Dean or 215 Flatbush.

DeGiacomo said that "we talked to Ashley [Cotton of Forest City Ratner] and her people" and they were working to move the scaffolding regarding 461 Dean back as the building progresses.

The situation deserved much more of an answer, but those responsible weren't there.

More frustration

At the November Precinct Council meeting, Krashes detailed some not-so-productive interactions with the police regarding construction violations that blocked bike lanes and sidewalks.

DiGiacomo, whose focus surely is on fighting crime (and Vision Zero), responded--in frustrated and not-so-receptive tones himself--that that the police did their best but felt hamstrung. "We're not stopping construction, and we have to make the community happy too."

"We need DOT [Department of Transportation] and NYPD to put pressure on the state and the developer to observe the law," Krashes said.

Krashes requested a working group. DiGiacomo, who said "I don't have the personnel to sit at construction sites," agreed to a project walk-through with community representatives. No representative of the state authority or the develoer was present.

"The developer is throwing you [NYPD] under the bus, and us under," commented Regina Cahill, a longtime neighborhood resident and president of the North Flatbush Business Improvement District.

Community enforcement

Krashes on 11/30/16 lodged a report on Atlantic Yards Watch, Smoke from tar boiler is one of many problems Monday; State employee eyes problem, regarding an episode during the morning of Monday, 11/28/16, where a smoking tar boiler continued for well over an hour--perhaps much longer--next to residences:
A truck with a tar boiler attached was parked in a bike lane on Carlton south of Dean Street. The tar boiler was smoking a great deal. I arrived at 10:09 am. When it was clear there was no other solution, I approached the contractor at 11:13. We had a very reasonable conversation and he was responsive. He apologized and turned the boiler off immediately.

I don't know when the boiler arrived, but construction work legally starts at 7 am. Certainly the boiler was smoking for the entire time I witnessed it. Given the start time of construction, it is possible that the smoke continued right next to residences for more than four hours. As is often the case, there was no air monitor present where it was needed, and it is not clear to me anyway that the monitors sample for fumes.
Ironically enough, though a state representative passed by the site, the boiler was turned off by the contractor only because of a conversation with Krashes. In other words, the community does the enforcement.

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