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

Belated transparency: ESD posts Board Materials 3+ days before meeting, but still requires comment before discussion. AY CDC budget update raises questions.

Let me offer some credit, when credit is due, since Empire State Development (ESD), the state authority that oversee/shepherds Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, has made a belated, if incomplete, move toward transparency.

As of Saturday, Nov. 11 (and presumably sooner), ESD had posted not just a media advisory but also an Agenda and Materials document for Nov. 16 board meeting.

That's an improvement over past practices in which the Agenda and Materials was posted only a day or two before the meeting. That left limited opportunity to comment, given the requirement to submit public comment before the meeting.

In its "Open ESD" report in July, Reinvent Albany noted that ESD often posted meeting materials and agendas less than 24 hours before comments are due, typically noon the day before a Board of Directors Meeting.

It recommended that ESD provide all materials for Board meetings at least three days in advance.

So the change is an improvement--but only partial.

Clairvoyance required

 After all, the media advisory states:

Members of the public may submit comments on the Agenda items in writing to ESD@esd.ny.gov by Noon on Wednesday, November 15, 2023. All comments received by the deadline will be distributed to the Directors prior to the meeting and will be posted on-line.
In other words, that requires clairvoyance regarding what the Directors discuss. 

The Board Materials include minutes from the Oct. 19 meeting:
Chair [Kevin] Law then noted that the public was given an opportunity to comment on the Agenda items by submitting their written comments by noon yesterday and that no comments were received.

Note: the subsidiary advisory Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC) in August expressed openness, after receiving a critical comment (from me), to accepting comments in person at the meeting. 

From the budget

At the end of the Board Materials is an update on ESD's FY 23-24 Subsidiaries Operating Budgets, as of September 30, 2023, halfway through the fiscal year that begins April 1.

Above right is a screenshot regarding the AY CDC, which is supposed to advise the parent ESD but mostly hasn't done much--though it did, at the last meeting, ask for a fiscal analysis of the project's future. That hasn't been delivered.

Note that, of the $221,567 budgeted for personnel, $79,055 has been spent, which apparently reflects the departure earlier this year of Tobi Jaiyesimi, who served not only as AY CDC's Executive Director, but also as ESD's Atlantic Yards Project Director.

Still, it would be worth seeing a breakdown.

Also, if there are no construction activities, what exactly is the other employee, Greg Lynch (who Jaiyesimi described in April as providing "additional eyes and ears on the project site"), doing?

Another question: what does the AY CDC's spending on Occupancy Expenses reflect?

This is worth venting at the next meeting of the AY CDC, which is supposed to meet quarterly, but is--not atypically--behind schedule. The last meeting was Aug. 2.

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