Skip to main content

Featured Post

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park infographics: what's built/what's coming/what's missing, who's responsible, + project FAQ/timeline (pinned post)

The advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation is not just behind schedule, it has five vacancies, at least

This is the first among multiple posts concerning the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life meeting Tuesday 10/9/18, held at 55 Hanson Place and sponsored by Empire State Development. I wasn't able to attend but am relying on an audiotape of the meeting.

As the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project ramps up toward more construction, with four buildings  likely to start in the next two years or so, the advisory body set up to provide advice and oversight not only is well behind its meeting schedule, it’s losing more members.

The Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), according to a June 2014 establishing document from Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, "shall meet not less than quarterly."

It's been more than six months--two quarters--since the last meeting in March, which was the second meeting in 2018, scheduled hastily, it seemed, to position the board to endorse a contract renewal by its parent ESD.

No board meeting has been scheduled. Tobi Jaiyesimi, who began as AY CDC Executive Director and now also serves as ESD Atlantic Yards Project Manager--a questionable structure in which she helps advise herself--said at the community meeting that they were working "as actively as possible to schedule a meeting."

She cited the requirements of a quorum and the difficulty in scheduling attendance by board members. The law, she said, requires attendance by one more than half the total members--a simple majority.

Who's left on the board?

How many board members are on the AY CDC? Jaiyesimi was asked.

She said about "four or five seats" were empty on the board, which is supposed to have "14 directors, nine appointed by the Governor and five by other elected officials – President Pro Tem of the NYS Senate, Speaker of the NYS Assembly, NYC Mayor, Speaker of the NYC Council, and Brooklyn Borough President."

Jaiyesimi noted that Jaime Stein, the mayoral appointee (who resigned in February) and Linda Reardon, the Assembly appointee, had left, and "possibly City Council." Then her ESD colleague Marion Phillips III clarified that the City Council appointee, Barika Williams, had also resigned, and "all the appointing bodies are aware of these vacancies."

Stein, an urban researcher at the Pratt Institute, was particularly interested in improving the relationship between the project and frustrated neighbors, while Reardon, a civil engineer, lives in the neighborhood nearby.

The board member list, from ESD, needs an update
Williams, who when she was named to the board  was Deputy Director of the advocacy group Association for Neighborhood & Housing Development (ANHD), and thus had a particular interest in affordable housing, has since June 2018 been serving as the state's Assistant Secretary of Housing

In other words, a relatively ineffectual body has lost some of its more active and concerned directors.

Two gubernatorially-appointed seats are vacant as well. Phillips, at one point, said "eight of 13 are seated," without referencing the official requirement of 14. The ESD's page for the AY CDC, as noted in the screenshot above, still lists Williams as a member, but has not added John Heyer as a member. 

What does AY CDC do?

According to the 2017 Annual Report from Empire State Development, the AY CDC "is charged with overseeing the Atlantic Yards Project." According to a 2017 report on the subsidiary, the AYCDC was created "to oversee and monitor" the ESD's "Atlantic Yards Land Use Improvement and Civic Project.

Though the AY CDC has been mostly toothless, it has added a measure of transparency, given that the meetings are public and webcast (later on video), while such videotaping is prohibited at the bimonthly Quality of Life meetings.

So it can be a way to tease out plans for the project, given that representatives of the developer are subject to questions. But only if the directors are informed, active, and engaged--and few have attended community meetings or express in-depty knowledge of the project.