A new survey of illegal parking and idling in the vicinity of Barclays Center during the first Nets/Bulls play-off game uncovered some changes to black limo behavior from the last survey. Overall the survey, which covered a smaller geographic area than the last, demonstrated illegal parking and idling conditions continue.
The survey is easy to execute by the volunteers because the locations for illegal parking are so predictable. There were very few unuccuppied hydrants in the area during the survey.
Notably not a single black limo was parked in the official location designated by the Department of Transportation for TLC parking on the south side of Atlantic Avenue from 6th Avenue to Carlton Avenue. A NYPD tow truck was stationed there to clear it of private cars, but it had little motivation to work.
The May 2013 calendar from Barclays Center has been released. It can be found here.
So far it includes four events. Games will be added if the Nets reach the play-offs.
"Temporary" removal of street trees on Pacific Street (and elsewhere) could last for decades with delayed construction
Once heralded as a "Garden of Eden" in Brooklyn by New York Times critic Herbert Muschamp, Atlantic Yards is becoming meaningfully less green step by step.
In what is a big loss for nearby residents, next week Forest City Ratner will remove 20 street trees on the northside of Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton to facilitate construction in the area. The photo to the right was taken this summer. No date has been provided for when they will be restored.
Forest City Ratner received a permit from the Parks Department in 2008 to remove 86 existing street trees in the public way inside the project footprint including the 20 trees on Pacific Street. A Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods FOIL at the time brought both the permit and a debate over restitution between the Parks Department and Forest City Ratner to light. FCRC initially asked for the financial restitution they were required to pay to be waived in lieu of the greater number of trees they said they were to plant with the project. In the end the Parks Department reduced the cost of restitution by the value of 116 street trees they were told would be planted on the project perimeter.
While the Parks Department has confirmed it recently updated this permit, it is not currently known to what extent it has been modified to take into account the changes to the project construction timetable, construction sequence, and phasing of property ownership made in 2009. The area where the trees on Pacific Street are located was originally anticipated to be the first area of the second phase of the project to be constructed. However, in October 2012, FCRC Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin told investors that second phase construction would begin first on block 1129 (between Vanderbilt and Carlton Avenues, and Dean and Pacific Streets). Further, at the time the 2008 permit was granted, it was assumed the air rights over the railyard would already be owned by FCRC. Now MTA still retains those rights and FCRC is not obligated to purchase them.
This means FCRC has been given permission to cut street trees lining MTA property they do not control, and because the construction timetable for this area is indeterminate, they may leave a now green area destitute of trees for a long time. With the information currently available, the neighborhood character of the northside of Pacific Street is likely to join nearby 6th Avenue as victim of construction delay-induced blight at Atlantic Yards.
On October 27, 2012, inspectors from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection visited several apartments in the Newswalk building on Dean Street. The purpose of their visit was to measure the level of sound escaping from the Barclays Center arena during the evening's "Sensation" electronica concert.
The visit was prompted by complaints from residents filed during the week of Jay-Z concerts that opened the arena. Inspectors had visited during one of the Jay-Z concerts, too, but had not been able to measure sound escaping from the arena in excess of City regulations. Some residents insisted that the inspectors had taken their measurements before Jay-Z had started his performance, however.
"Sensation" was different. On October 27, the inspectors took measurements at 10:40PM and recorded a sound level of 74dbc in a Newswalk apartment. New York City noise control code allows a maximum of 62dbc to escape from a commercial establishment. FCRC received a violation, and was ordered to appear at a hearing of the Environmental Control Board on January 8, 2013. (The violation and the inspector's notes are here.)
The violation carried a fine of $3,200. The ECB's records indicate the complaint was "dismissed." The New York Post reports that the complaint was technically inaccurate because it was served to Forest City Ratner instead of the subsidiary responsible for arena operations. A new ticket has been issued, and another hearing is to be scheduled for April.
During the bass-heavy Sensation show at Barclays Center it was observed by residents, and confirmed by NYC Department of Environmental Protection, that noise at the arena was audible and disruptive in nearby homes.
Numerous incident reports about noise from the arena were filed on AYW during Sensation and Jay-Z's concerts. The diagram above shows the approximate locations complaints were submitted to AYW for those two events. Jay-Z's music was heard as far away as the surface parking lot on block 1129. Jay-Z's performances ended by 11:30 PM. Complaints received regarding Sensation extend to 1:30 AM; according to some reports the event continued until 5:00 AM.
For the night of the Heat vs. the Nets, a small team of AYW volunteers surveyed the state of illegal parking and idling in the vicinity of Barclays Center. Above is a photo of a TLC driver sleeping in his car while parked in a crosswalk on the north side of Atlantic Avenue near South Oxford Street.
The study began at 8:30 and concluded at 10:30 PM. The streets were each only surveyed once. They are listed in the order they were surveyed. The survey preceded the end of the game which is by far the most impactful period of arena operation.
Based on our experience and AYW incident reports, the same locations are used over and over by drivers parking and idling illegally. We used a slightly larger set of boundaries for this survey than our previous survey on December 5th. Our western boundary was 4th Avenue in Park Slope and Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene; the southern boundary was St. Mark's Avenue in Park Slope and Prospect Heights. The eastern boundary in Prospect Heights was Vanderbilt Avenue; in Fort Greene it was South Portland Avenue. The northern boundary was Hanson Place and Atlantic Avenue.
In total, we witnessed 77 parking and/or idling violations. 65 were parking and 12 were idling violations. In December we found 83 violations. 64 of those were for parking and 19 were for idling. Vehicles cited below as idling were not timed to see if they were idling for longer than the 3 minutes allowed in NYC, although in many cases the drivers appeared to sleeping, on the phone, or watching television. We did not file complaints with 311. Many of the illegally parked cars had out of state licenses.
Did problems with limos at Barclays Center start with omissions in its Transportation Demand Management plan?
The framework for transportation management around Barclays Center is contained in the “Transportation Demand Management Plan for Barclays Center” (TDM), produced by Sam Schwartz Engineering, release in draft in May of 2012, and updated in August of 2012. The plan has two stated goals: “The first is to minimize the number of vehicles that travel to the arena. The second is to minimize the impact on the surrounding area from the patrons who insist on driving, regardless of the available alternatives.”
Since the arena opening on September 28, many incident reports have been submitted to AYW documenting illegal parking and idling by limousines on the streets near Barclays Center. At the December 6 Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee meeting, there was extended discussion on a plan by the 78th Precinct and DOT to allow limousines to queue on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue. Several participants (including the writer) questioned whether essentially providing free parking to limos was consistent with the goals of the TDM. Representatives from the ESDC and Forest City Ratner were quick to suggest that limos should not be considered to be covered by the TDM.
A review of the TDM shows it considered patron travel by limousine. Further, an accompanying study by Clarion Research indicates FCRC had reason to believe the TDM strategies would not be effective in reducing travel to the arena by limousine. Looking more closely at the sampling used in the Clarion study also suggests that its results almost certainly understate the number of arena patrons likely to travel to events by limousine, a potential problem that should have been apparent to FCRC when reviewing the data.
Limos observed at Bocelli concert illustrate the scope of illegal parking and idling near Barclays Center
Since the September 28th opening of Barclays Center, complaints about illegally parked and idling limosines on streets in the vicinity of the arena have made up the largest category of incident reports filed with AYW.
Between approximately 8:15 and 9:30 PM on the evening of the December 5th Andrea Bocelli concert, a small AYW team documented the scope of the problem in Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and Park Slope.
We based our research area on the information contained in incident reports on AYW and our knowledge of the area. In our experience the same illegal locations are used over and over. The western boundary was 5th Avenue in Park Slope and Fort Greene Place in Fort Greene; the southern boundary was St. Mark's in Park Slope and Dean in Prospect Heights. The eastern boundary in Prospect Heights was Vanderbilt at Dean, and otherwise Carlton Avenue. The eastern boundary in Fort Greene was South Portland. The northern boundary was Hanson Place.
We identified 83 likely violations, 64 for illegal parking and 19 for idling. One parking ticket was found on a private car parked near a hydrant on Dean Street. The details of the conditions observed are below.
According to an article in today's New York Times, Forest City Ratner Companies has chosen to build the first residential building at Atlantic Yards using modular construction. At 32 stories, B2 will be the tallest modular building in the world. Groundbreaking for B2 has been scheduled for December 18.
The use of modular construction has been chosen as a means to reduce costs not only on B2, but throughout the remaining Atlantic Yards buildings. The project's approval in 2006, as well as its revised plan of 2009, anticipated conventional construction techniques would be used when considering Atlantic Yards' use of public subsidies and overall feasibility. In the Times article Thomas Hanrahan, dean of Pratt Institute's architecture school states, "The question is: Will the savings be passed on to the public in some form?"
With a presentation on the design of B2 scheduled for Thursday of this week, other outstanding questions about the building may finally be answered a short three weeks before the building's groundbreaking.
What are the construction plans for B2?
The 2009 Modified General Project Plan (MGPP) left B2 without publicly-disclosed construction plans. The original arena block plans anticipated office and residential towers integrated with the arena and built in quick succession. B2 was to be complete one month after the arena, with the entire block complete about a year after the arena opening. Now to construct B2 FCRC must contend with traffic and pedestrian demands generated by an operating arena next door. And because of the use of much of the remaining area FCRC controls for arena patron and broadcast uplink surface parking, there are fewer locations available for construction staging than anticipated when the plans for construction were originally approved in 2006. This may mean sidewalk and lane closures are more likely at the same time that demands on local streets and sidewalks have increased.
AYW has been informed by a representative of the Empire State Development Corporation that the NYPD intends to allow limos to queue during arena events on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between Carlton and Vanderbilt Avenues. [UPDATE: On November 13, we were informed by Council Member James' office that the block of Atlantic Avenue designated by DOT and NYPD for limo staging was between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue, not Carlton and Vanderbilt.] The section of Atlantic Avenue is currently available for public parking except during overnight street cleaning hours. On Friday, November 9, use of the area was reserved for vehicles registered with TLC license plates, consistent with the NYPD proposal.
Idling of limos in unauthorized locations in Prospect Heights, Park Slope and Fort Greene has been a major concern for residents since the arena's opening. AYW incident reports filed include 945, 947, 969, 970, 971, 972, 973, 989, 991, 997, and 998. 311 closed reports for many of these incidents noting "police action was not necessary," or "no evidence of violation." Idling of limos has also been documented by Atlantic Yards Report.
At an October 16 meeting at Brooklyn Borough Hall, community members asked 78th Precinct Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri to address the problem through enforcement. Ameri responded,"Enforcement is part of the answer, but it's not the solution. The solution is to give them a place."