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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

So, a project neighbor wants noise-reducing windows? Sign a confidentiality agreement and more

I'll be part of a panel Wednesday, Learning from Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, associated with the exhibition. The exhibition is at CUNY's James Gallery, 365 Fifth Avenue, ground floor, through Oct. 28, open 12-7pm Tuesday-Thursday and 12-6pm Friday and Saturday.

(Updated and clarified)

The discussion at last Wednesday's program, Unintentional Community, from Shared Experience to Action, associated with painter Peter Krashes' project-related exhibition Block Party, was fairly gloomy, if punctuated with the bitter humor of resiliency.
Outside the gallery

After all, the three dozen or so people present, most of them close Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park neighbors associated with the Dean Street Block Association, had many stories of watching their blocks overrun by construction or arena activities.

Perhaps the most telling story involves Taniya Gunesekhara, who's endured disruptions like the Video Music Awards and once told the state agency overseeing/shepherding the project, "I’m no stranger to noise and pollution. But what is going on in our neighborhood now is despicable.”

Gunesekhara wanted double-paned windows, seemingly a requirement imposed on the developer by the state to dampen noise, in the back of her house, not just the front. After all, both directions are equally vulnerable to noise just a half a block from the arena.

(Remember, to ease the Barclays Center, New York State overrode city zoning prohibiting arenas within 200 feet of residential districts.)

She rejected the developer's proposal, because it contained not only a gag order but also an agreement to release the developer from all related obligations dating--in not uncommon, though intimidating, legal language--"from the beginning of the world to the date and time hereof." But she did ultimately get the windows.

The requirement

The obligation seems clear--or maybe not. According to Empire State Development's Second Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, which summarizes obligations in the project documentation:
FCRC [the developer] shall make available double-glazed or storm windows and alternative ventilation... for those residential locations where the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] or FSEIS [Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement] identified significant noise impacts and such windows and air conditioning are not currently installed, subject to the consent of the owners and tenants of such residences, and subject to applicable laws, rules and regulations. All such windows and alternative ventilation shall be provided without charge and with free installation.
There's no mention of a gag order. Or that it's limited to front windows, though Krashes said that was the interpretation of the original Memorandum of Environmental Commitments, which, actually, is silent on the matter. (Note: I don't have the developer's take on this.)
At the James Gallery, before the panel.
The Krashes painting is also below right

Gunasekhara said she didn't find her problems could get solved by government agencies but rather the Dean Street Block Association--the "unintentional community" theme of the discussion.

A tangled path

It took a year, but she got her front windows replaced, with the help of the DSBA. Forest City Ratner--later Greenland Forest City Partners--took five years to agree to pay for installation of rear windows.

That's because, as Krashes recounted, only the front windows were considered an obligation.

Gunasekhara and her family balked at the terms. "I couldn’t talk about the conversation, and I think it was retroactive to the windows I got five years ago," she recalled. She found the amount of time and effort expended to resist her request curious, since it represented a corporate cost that she thought would dwarf the expenditure on her windows.

Krashes: "More Filled Seats Magnifies the Message"
As noted in the proposed agreement embedded below, prepared by Greenland Forest City Partners, Gunasekhara would have had to accept the work as is, with the developer having sole discretion to determine the adequacy of the work.

The legal requirements

And the entire process and project had to be confidential: ""Failure to comply with this confidentiality provision, or any other term of this letter agreement, as determined in the sole discretion of the Developer, shall be deemed a material breach of this letter agreement requiring that you reimburse the Developer for actual documented costs incurred on your behalf under this agreement."

Gag orders are hardly new related to this project. Remember, as the New York Post revealed in 2004, thanks to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, those selling their homes to Forest City were required to testify in favor of the project and say they were treated fairly.

Or, as documented in the Memorandum of Understanding between Forest City and the housing advocacy group ACORN, the latter had to publicly support the project's housing plan.

Gunasekhara would not have had to go that far, but by signing the agreement would have had to "agree to release and discharge the Developer... from all actions... claims and demands whatsoever relating to, arising from or attributable to the subject matter hereof... which you, your successors and assigns ever had, now have or hereafter can, shall or may have, from the beginning of the world to the date and time hereof."

All this, as Krashes said during the discussion, "to get something they're obligated to give you."

"As part of our block association’s input to the state as part of the 2014 FEIS process, we pointed out that in some cases non-street facing windows directly face construction," Krashes told me in an update. Gunasekhara and her husband " went back to the developer and asked for their rear windows to be replaced because they continued to face construction. It was in response to this request that the developer gave... this agreement to sign. They refused to sign it and the developer ultimately installed the windows anyway."

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