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

No consequences: when questioned about noisy work unmentioned in two-week Construction Update, state rep says they'll do better going forward

This is the third of several articles based on the 9/17/19 Quality of Life meeting, hosted by Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority overseeing and shepherding the project. The first concerned plans for the school. The second concerned questions about the timing of the platform.

Toby Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project director for ESD, and also the executive director of the advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), was the main speaker, and there was no representative of master developer Greenland Forest City Partners present to speak.

(A representative of TF Cornerstone, which is developing the B12 and B13 towers on the southeast block, was in the room, but didn't speak.)

The bottom line regarding complaints about noisy work at the B12 site, captured on video by neighbor Peter Krashes, but went unmentioned in the two-week Construction Update, was this: sorry, we'll make sure they do better next time, but there are no consequences.

Those Construction Updates, which I publish as they're issued, can alert residents of the timing and extent of potentially intrusive work, and guide them regarding, for example, whether to leave their homes. There's no 24/7 project hotline to call if and when unscheduled work occurs.

Concrete trucks getting washed out

"There's some question about the use of the B12 site by concrete trucks. And that that activity wasn’t noted in the two-week look ahead," Jaiyesimi said. "
I looked back… and that is correct." See below video regarding a 9/7/19 incident.

"There was a concrete pour [at the B4 or B15 site, where towers are under construction] but there was no explicit mention of the B12 site for concrete truck-wash out," she said. "And so moving forward we’ll be sure to emphasize the use of the B12 for concrete truck wash-outs."

Jaiyesimi noted that concrete trucks are not subject to New York City idling regulations because the mixer needs to be running continuously. "And so, after there's a pour, the truck gets hosed down and washed out, and there’s a policy and process," she said. "And so depending on the nature and the size of the pour, the B12 site has been used in the past."

Noisy jackhammering

"Similarly, there was a complaint about jackhammering at that site that was related to breaking up some large rocks," she said, "as the area was being cleared out. 
It was an isolated incident. And we don't anticipate that type of work in the future."

The contractor will be sure to use noise-mitigating equipment, she said, should such an activity happen again.

Are they prepared?

Krashes, who filmed the incidents, wasn't present.

I pointed out that it's not simply an issue of notice, it's that the site, which lacks sound barriers, is not supposed to be used for construction activity. In fact, there were oversize fences, which encroached on Dean Street and Carlton Avenue, to block sound from construction of the B11 and B14 towers, but they have since been removed.

"The site has been used for various staging activities," said Jaiyesimi, making a distinction between that work and vertical construction at the site. "You're staging for construction."

Yes, I responded, but at some point the noise becomes burdensome.

And that, she said, is why they'll use noise mitigation in the future.

No consequences

Which of course raises the issue: Why aren't there any consequences? Why no penalties, such as fines, or loss of the ability to operate, at least at certain times?

The conclusion seems to be: because ESD's job is more to facilitate the development than to oversee it.

That's not a radical conclusion. One of Jaiyesimi's successors, Arana Hankin--the first person in the job--hinted at that, after she left the job.

She told academic colleagues in 2013 that managing Atlantic Yards was “a balancing act, making sure the project can progress, and also responding to community needs. And these interests typically were not complementary."

One of her roles, Hankin said, was to determine "how ESD should respond to developer requests for additional benefits, and there were many." It might be said that gentle oversight qualifies as an additional benefit.