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

Belatedly, ESD offers notes from past two Quality of Life meetings, but evades some tough questions (sidewalk parking, after-hours work, disclosure of such work)

Well, Empire State Development finally posted promised notes (bottom) from the bi-monthly Quality of Life meetings 5/11/21 and 7/13/21. (They went up sometime between Aug. 27-28.) At the latter meeting, we had been told they'd be posted as "quickly as possible."

The next meeting is Sept. 14; it's unclear whether it will be held in person, on Zoom, or as a hybrid.

The notes are mostly summaries of the fairly bureaucratic and not terribly informative discussions raised at these Zoom meetings, which drew only about 20 participants and--unlike with some other Covid-era public meetings--did not allow participants to see who else was there or see their posted chat comments and queries.

But a few omissions and obfuscations point to the essential role of ESD as more enabler than overseer of the project--as I point out in a few comments below. So accountability suffers.

From the May meeting: Dean Street parking

Questions:
  • How is it that the arena encourages parking on the Dean Street sidewalk just east of the Dean Street entrance and before the loading dock?
  • Is that portion of the sidewalk public property or is that considered part of the arena property?
  • If the latter, what are the dimensions of the arena-controlled sidewalk and where, in project documents, is that listed?
  • Why does the K-9 Unit need to be housed in a car on the sidewalk?
The response:
The arena does not encourage any of its guests to park on the sidewalk. The vehicle for the explosive detection K-9 unit is occasionally partially parked on the sidewalk. The K-9 unit is not housed in the car, but the vehicle is temporarily parked on the sidewalk close to the arena entry.  
Note the evasion of all but the first question.

From the May meeting: Atlantic Avenue parking

Question:
  • Why is there combat parking by the arena along Atlantic Avenue?
The response:
The arena utilizes Atlantic Avenue for combat parking; the 78th Pct. is aware of this practice. The NYPD is solely responsible for the enforcement of parking regulations. 

That means the 78th Precinct, surely acceding to orders from above (and beyond the NYPD), lets it happen.

From the May meeting: after-hours work

Questions:
  • What is the justification for requesting 6 AM weekday after-hours permits for B12–B13 [615 Dean St./595 Dean St.] given past complaints that 7 am was disruptive to neighbors?
  • How long would the 6 AM start persist?
  • After-hours variance cites public safety
    Has the early start time been approved by NYC Department of Buildings (DOB)?
  • The justification given to DOB for the permit was for safety, not the timely completion of the project. Can you clarify?

The response:
Early work at B12-B13 ensures that the construction team is able to maintain their schedule and deliver the project by 2023. The start time has been approved and the justification given to DOB was to allow to continue [sic] to formwork, rebar installation and installation of the crane, so work can start across the site at 7 AM. This will ensure continued progress towards the superstructure phase and timely delivery of the project.

The second question wasn't answered, nor was the fourth. As the screenshot shows, the justification is public safety, not schedule maintenance.

From the July meeting: arena elevator/plaza

Questions:
  • When is the elevator at the arena plaza expected to be back in service?
  • How long was the arena plaza cordoned off for repairs?
  • What was repaired?
The response:
The elevator is expected to be running again in the next few weeks. There is one final phase (cab lighting) that needs to be completed. Once Schindler (the arena's elevator operator) receives final approval from NYC Department of Buildings, the elevator will be back up and running. The section of the plaza behind the subway entrance was blocked off for about a month for deep cleaning, painting, and repairs to broken benches. The area is currently open again. There are plans to install bike racks in that area in the coming months, which may require a few benches to be closed while that project is happening. 
It doesn't specify when in fact the elevator was back, but it was working when I visited last Thursday, Aug. 26, as shown in the photo at right. 

From the July meeting: game highlights

Questions:
  • How often were Nets games broadcasted on the arena plaza?
  • How much of each game?
  • Will that continue with the NY Liberty? 
  • If so, how much? 
  • Will that continue next year with the Nets? 
  • If so, how much?
The response:
Small portions, approximately 1 minute per quarter of live clips and replays, of Nets games were shown on the atrium glass display. The arena will look to continue this for the next season. For the Liberty, highlights will be shown selectively as well. 

From the July meeting: railyard construction

Questions:
  • Are there any updates on B5? [the first tower over the platform, crucial to delivering required affordable housing]
  • What are the plans for the railroad?
  • When will construction of the platform begin?
  • Has the LIRR approved final completion of the railyards?
  • Has a contractor been announced for the construction of the platform over the rail yards? 
  • If not, why not?
  • Has LIRR raised any concerns with respect to the plans for construction of the rail yard platforms? 
The response:
There are no updates on B5 or the start of construction for the platform. The Developer carried out major improvements to the LIRR permanent yards, including West Portal connection to the Atlantic Terminal Station, new tracks, electrical substation and operations facilities. The Developer and LIRR are in the final stages of reviewing the close out documentation for the rail yard. A contractor for the platform to be erected over the railyards has not been announced. An announcement will be made when details on the platform construction is available. The LIRR has not raised any concerns about the platform.
Note the lack of a response to the question of why a contractor has not been announced.

From the July meeting: disruptive construction

Questions:
  • There have been numerous complaints about the air horns used in association with the cranes at the B12 and B13 site. Have alternative types of signals been researched? 
  • Are there ways to minimize the sound?
  • How long is it anticipated the blasts will last? 
  • Has the decibel level of the air horn been measured in relation to the impact on homes nearby? 
  • What specific decibel level does the State feel is acceptable inside each home nearby? 

The response:
Air horns are used to notify construction workers on the ground that a crane’s load or hook is coming near or over personnel. The horns alert workers on the ground about the movement of the crane to avoid potentially serious accidents. Use of air horns is an industry best practice that is recommended by insurance companies and site safety professionals. The construction team has been informed of the disturbance to the community and will attempt to minimize use of the air horns without compromising worker safety.
Note the failure to address questions about the measurement of decibels and acceptable interior levels.

From the July meeting: parking questions

Questions:
  • There have been complaints that the 535 Carlton Avenue and 670 Pacific Street parking garages both trigger traffic congestion and unsafe conditions in the area nearby during Barclays Center events.
  • Will Barclays consider removing any references to these garages in online promotions if the garages are not run better? 
  • If the [78th] precinct is not using the 24 parking spaces required in the 535 Carlton Avenue garage, who is keeping any income from those parking spaces when they are rented out? 
  • Has the money been put in escrow?
The response:
The arena and Developer will continue to work with the 535 Carlton Avenue garage to ensure adequate staffing and preparation for large scheduled events. The 24 parking spaces for the 78th Precinct continue to be available 24/7 at the 535 Carlton Avenue garage. The spaces are paid for by the Developer. 
The second question was ignored.

From the July meeting: traffic study

Questions:
  • When is the traffic study triggered by the first 1500 residential Certificates of Occupancy for the Project expected to take place?
  • The scope of work is determined with DOT. Which specific community stakeholder groups, and which community boards, are you going to consult about the scope of this study?
The response:
The Developer is working with Department of Transportation on the required traffic study. The scope of work for the study is defined by the Atlantic Yards Project’s Memorandum of Environmental Commitments [MEC], and the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statements [FSEIS].
That's not completely helpful, since the MEC makes reference to DOT letters that are not part of the document. From the MEC:
5. Promptly after the issuance of certificates of occupancy for 1,500 Project dwelling units, FCRC [the developer] shall undertake a traffic monitoring study pursuant to a scope to be approved by NYCDOT to: (i) refine the signal timing and other traffic mitigation measures described in the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] and FSEIS as necessary to reflect then existing traffic conditions; (ii) provide further information as to the implementation date for the signal timing and other traffic mitigation measures specified in the FEIS and FSEIS; and (iii) identify potential additional measures to address unmitigated significant adverse impacts identified in the FEIS and FSEIS based on then existing traffic conditions. FCRC shall undertake a second traffic monitoring study with the same objectives following substantial completion of Project construction. Both traffic monitoring studies shall conform to the requirements specified in the letter from NYCDOT to ESD dated May 30, 2014 (the “2014 DOT Letter”), and shall include the evaluation of additional measures to enhance overall safety at the Atlantic Avenue/Vanderbilt Avenue intersection as specified in the FSEIS. FCRC shall fund and/or implement any identified safety improvements at this intersection at the direction of DOT. FCRC shall also comply with all other requirements of the 2014 DOT Letter (and the DOT letter dated November 22, 2006 (the “2006 DOT Letter”) to the extent not superseded by the 2014 DOT Letter), including those pertaining to the funding of mitigation measures. The traffic monitoring study required after the issuance of certificates of occupancy for 1,500 Project dwelling units shall be in lieu of the traffic monitoring study at the completion of Phase I discussed in the FEIS.
From the July meeting: proper disclosures

Questions:
  • Why has the two-week look ahead [circulated by ESD after preparation by the developer] neglected to disclose the expected hours for Saturday work at B12/B13 site, nor disclosed that an After-Hours Variance has been approved for weekday work at 6 am?
The response:
The Saturday permit hours for B12-B13 are 9 AM – 5 PM, this information will be included in the biweekly construction alerts. The weekday permitted hours at B12-B13 are 6 AM – 7 AM and 7 AM- 6 PM. The scope of work includes crane warmup, erecting floors, rebar and framework installation. Permit hours will be included in the biweekly construction alerts.
That doesn't answer why such information had regularly not been disclosed.
  

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