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AY CDC directors ask for more details on ventilation structures; narrowing walkways said to add 3000 square feet (could be used for dog run, etc.)

The big news at Monday's Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) meeting concerned more details about--and a reclassification of--the 105,000 square feet of square feet of space, mostly below-ground at sites B12 and B13, to be devoted to a field house and fitness center.

But among a suite of proposed changes, many deemed relatively minor, only that below-ground space and a plan for new ventilation structures on the project's southeast block did not get an immediate endorsement from the AY CDC. (I thought that the changes in both vehicular and bike parking deserved more skepticism, as well.)

Rather, members will first examine a Technical Memorandum, not yet made public and likely to remain unavailable to the public before a vote by the parent Empire State Development (ESD) on 8/15/19, regarding those two issues. (The AY CDC is expected to meet again 8/12/19.)

The new ventilation structures

Note that these proposed ventilation structures on the southeast block of the project are in addition to the ventilation structures--just one is pictured in the schematic below, by Thomas Balsley, at #20--planned over the Vanderbilt Yard, once a deck is built.

What's up with the vent structures?

As described at last week's Quality of Life meeting, one  would be located at the playground between B14 and B13, and the other at the "plaza" between B11 and B12, as indicated in the image below. (B11 and B14, also known as 550 Vanderbilt and 535 Carlton, are already built, while B12 and B13 are expected to start next year.)

The structures would have a seated area and interactive feature, as indicated in the gauzy image below. They don't diminish the open space or total square footage, we were told, but apparently the obstruction must be permitted by a change in the design guidelines.
The eastern structure (left) would be at the plaza. The western structure would be at the playground.
From Quality of Life Meeting presentation
"Part of what would be vented would be exhaust from the buildings' garage," Jaiyesimi said, noting that there would not be an adverse impact on air quality--a statement that drew some skepticism.

At the AY CDC meeting

Jaiyesimi gave a similar presentation to the AY CDC, noting the vent structures would mostly serve the buildings' garages, but only 10% to 15% of the exhaust would be from recreational use. In the event of an emergency,  garage vents would be used to purge smoke.

"The analysis"--presumably the Tech Memo--"found that exhaust from the garage," she said, meets Environmental Protection Agency regulations and would not result in any significant adverse air quality."

Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon asked if the air would be scrubbed before it's released.

"It doesn't require scrubbing," Jaiyesimi said, after a consultation.

Director Cy Richardson asked for a more detailed rendering of the vent structure in the playground.

Direcctor Daniel Kummer said they wanted to be able to tell those concerned, like the parents of children playing, that all other possibilities for placement were considered and that this was the only alternative.

"Why here?" commented AY CDC President Marion Phillips III. "From a structural standpoint, this was best, swiftest way to exhaust underground contaminants or what have you." But he said they needed to better explain it. Hence the willingness to pause for the Tech Memo.

About the walkway cut: finding 3,000 square feet

Jaiyesimi also described a plan to reduce major north-south walkways in the project's open space from 16 feet to 12 feet, saying it would allow for more lawn and fence area, the latter not elaborated on previously.

But maybe there's another rationale.
From Quality of Life meeting presentation
At last week's meeting, the plan was announced as serving green space only. Also, Jaiyesimi for the first time quantified the gain: 3,000 square feet, which could be programmed for an active use, "it could provide a dog run," or another community amenity.

Are they running out of space for promised amenities? Or do they realize they need a second dog run? See #13 below, in the schematic by landscape architect Thomas Balsley.

What's comparable?

Responding, perhaps, to the request at last week's meeting to describe a comparable walkway, Jaiyesimi said the width of the pedestrian and bike path on the Brooklyn Bridge varies from ten to 17 feet. (That's not such a great comparison, because that path is typically mobbed.)

It's "difficult to compare this to the Brooklyn Heights promenade,” she said, given the overhang over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Actually, project landscape architect Thomas Balsley did pretty much that, showing, as in the slide below, a 21-foot main promenade path.

"What's the overarching goal?" asked AY CDC Director Gib Veconi.

"You get more planted area, get more area that allows for interactive use," said Jaiyesimi, stressing that there was no reduction in the promised eight acres of open space.

Maybe there's another goal.