September 27, 2012

It looks like the arena perimeter is getting fortified

Atlantic Yards Report

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Photo: AYInfoNYC

Posted by eric at 11:05 AM

PHNDC: report concerns about arena impacts to Atlantic Yards Watch, 311, 911, and/or the 78th Precinct

Atlantic Yards Report

As the Barclays Center arena opens tomorrow, September 28, the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, a sponsor of Atlantic Yards Watch, reminds us that the impact on streets and sidewalks--traffic, crowds, drivers searching for parking--remain unknown.

To report concerns about the arena:

1) Call 911 (note complaint tracking number) to report any incidents that require immediate police attention. (Remember to note your complaint tracking number.)
2) Call 311 (note complaint tracking number) or the 78th Precinct (718-636-6411) to report any issues that are not emergencies but require attention the evening of an event, such as illegal parking, cars on sidewalks.
3) Go to Atlantic Yards Watch to file reports, ask questions, and upload video and photos, or call 760-569-6374. Incident reports are read regularly by the Mayor's Office liaison for Atlantic Yards, Empire State Development, and Forest City Ratner.

A calendar of arena events is available on the Barclays website. PHNDC will ask the Barclays Center to make the calendar more easily scannable for residents and develop other communications to keep the community informed about events and developments at the site.

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Posted by eric at 9:44 AM

September 26, 2012

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: A Farewell to Terrorism — and a Welcome to Drunk Drivers

by Alan Rosner (co-author of a white paper on arena security and terrorism issues published in 2005)

The Barclays Center will be opening in a matter of days. Different critics who had different thought experiments regarding how Atlantic Yards would play out will now get to see it all happen in real time. I wish us, especially those living nearby, the best.

With this post for NoLandGrab today I’m closing the book on my thought experiment — institutional responses to Atlantic Yards in a post-9/11 environment. It seems the Barclays Center will be opening with Department of Homeland Security approval. Writing about this just after the 11th anniversary of 9/11 feels as surreal as seeing the design for the original Frank Gehry all-glass arena trotted out just three years after the attack, with plans to site it a scant 20 feet from the curb.

Interestingly, shortly after the Gehry hoopla, there was a major delay at Ground Zero. The plans for redevelopment had to be redone to relocate the Freedom Tower further away from the street and remove all street level glass, replacing it with stainless steel.

Well, that’s Manhattan. Here in Brooklyn, despite a post-Gehry redesign, the street-level glass stays, and the Atlantic Avenue side of the arena gets cantilevered outwards, making it twelve feet closer to the street. Go figure… be happy. We missed having Mayor Bloomberg's (and Dan Doctoroff's) Olympics, but we’ll soon have our circus opening… the 1%’s gift for public spectacle and their own profit, per usual, at our expense.

So time to move on, say, to thinking about how the absolute scale of alcohol sales at the arena — regardless of the hour such sales end — will effect our surrounding communities.

Consider: arena liquor sales will supply local streets with a wave of energized, above- or near-over-the-legal-limit drivers with ample opportunities to purchase more alcohol going to their cars. The ongoing surge of liquor license applications, happening for good reason, makes the problem worse. Size, or more politely, scale, matters.

So will the NYPD and Forest City Ratner increase the number of random sobriety checkpoints and make a concerted effort to publicize that they will enforce drunk driving ordinances as strictly as they will parking violations? And will our local elected officials and community groups hold city officials & the NYPD to their public safety responsibilities to keep drunk driving to a minimum? Stay tuned….


For the record… beyond the relocation of One World Trade Center, the City of Newark, since 2007, has closed local streets for every Prudential Center event due to fears of terrorism. Meanwhile, last year my homeowner’s insurance renewal, for the first time, had a mandatory terrorism rider. We predicted this in 2005, and while currently cheap, the Feds can stop underwriting terrorism insurance in 2017, at which point local redlining issues very well may come into play.

Posted by eric at 12:47 PM

September 24, 2012

Park Slope, Prospect Heights Precinct Reshuffle Set For Sept. 25

Boundary changes meant to streamline policing at Barclays Center.

Prospect Heights Patch
by Paul Leonard

It's hard to miss most of the happenings in and around the just opened Barclays Center.

However, at least one change will be much harder for most people to detect.

On Tuesday, Sept. 25 at midnight, Park Slope's 78th Precinct will formally take over policing at the 18,000-seat arena in a rare shift that city officials said was necessary to keep visitors and residents safe.

The new borders puts Park Slope's 78th Precinct in charge of the entire Atlantic Yards development area and also gives it jurisdiction over over the area between Vanderbilt Avenue and Flatbush Avenue, from Hanson Place in Fort Greene, all the way to (and including) Plaza Street East. The 77th Precinct's border will begin with the East side of Vanderbilt Avenue. In Fort Greene, it will also cover the Atlantic Center.

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Posted by eric at 1:02 PM

August 24, 2012

In Brooklyn, Working Out Nets Stadium’s Police Beat

MetroFocus [Thirteen.org]
by John Farley

“When the arena opens there are going to be changes to people’s quality of life,” Capt. Michael Ameri, standing next to City Councilmember Letitia James, told a roomfull of people at Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct, where he is the commanding officer. The public meeting on how the new Barclays Center and surrounding area would be policed drew approximately 60 area residents on Wednesday.
...

Because the arena’s footprint sits within three police precincts — the 77th, 78th and 88th — the city went for efficiency and unofficially selected the 78th Precinct to cover Barclays Center, as well as the Atlantic Mall and Atlantic Terminal, last March. On August 13, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly sent a letter to City Council requesting approval for the redrawn boundary 78th Precinct, which will also expand to cover a triangle wedge of residential streets between Flatbush, Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues. The Council has 60 days to respond to the request, but permission has been tacit as the stadium will open on September 28 with a Jay-Z concert and the 78th has already been preparing for its expanded beat, which will include a special “arena detail” and considerable overtime for many of its officers.

That overtime, said James (D-35), is going to be covered by the taxpayers of the City of New York.

“I believe Forest City Ratner should cover the overtime costs, but at this point, it’s the taxpayers. Which is why I opposed it [Atlantic Yards] from day one,” James added.

Echoes of that frustration, after years of legal battles, pervaded the room, but the point of the meeting was clear: to work out how the police are going to deal with a huge influx of people (the arena has 18,000 seats).

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Related coverage...

Park Slope Patch, Traffic Biggest Concern, Not Crowds, After 78th Precinct Takes Over Barclays Center

“To be honest with you, that's my biggest concern with this arena is traffic,” [78th Precinct Commanding Officer Captain Michael Ameri] said to a room filled with about 60 residents from Park Slope, Fort Green and Prospect Heights. “We will have beyond sufficient number of traffic agents and we will pull cars away from the arena so cars close to the area can leave.”
...

“We will set the tone early — we will flood the area with traffic agents and tow trucks. We want the word out that if you break the law, you’ll not only get a ticket, but you’ll get towed,” Ameri said, explaining that on opening day tow trucks will be there. “Once the word is out that you’ll get towed, people will be scared.”

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

August 15, 2012

Mayor formally requests expansion of 78th Precinct; meeting on public safety set for August 22

Atlantic Yards Report

I wrote last week about the expansion of the 78th Precinct to encompass all of the Atlantic Yards project as well as the malls north of it. Yesterday, Mayor Mike Bloomberg formally requested (below) the City Council to approve new boundaries, with a new Sector K.

The Council must agree, though no dissent has surfaced.

Public meeting

Also, given concerns about policing the arena and environs, there will be a meeting at the precinct on August 22.

An announcement from Council Member Letitia James's office:

ATTENTION: Barclays Area Community Safety Meeting; 8/22

With the upcoming opening of Barclay Arena, and various Community Safety Concerns:

Please Join Council Member Letitia James and Captain Michael Ameri (of Brooklyn's 78th Precinct) to discuss and answer questions regarding the safety and quality of life concerns in residential communities after the September arena opening.

• NYPD’s 78th Precinct will be responsible for policing the arena as well as enforcement of traffic and parking rules, protection of pedestrian safety and regulation of public behavior within a one-half mile radius around the arena block.

When: August 22nd, 2012
Time: 6:00PM
Where: 78th Precinct, 65 6th Avenue Corner of Bergen Street (4th Floor Court Room)

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Posted by eric at 9:59 AM

August 9, 2012

Not only will 78th Precinct include Barclays Center, it will extend to malls, rest of Atlantic Yards site; police parking on street still a concern

Atlantic Yards Report

New York Police Department officials last night offered more detail on the reported, if not officially confirmed, news that the 78th Precinct, located at Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue, would be put in charge of policing the Barclays Center arena, the southeast border of which is a block away at Dean Street and Sixth Avenue.

(The mayoral recommendation must still be approved by the City Council. Currently, the Atlantic Yards site is split among three precincts.)

It was logical to have the 78th Precinct, given its size and location, to have the arena in its jurisdiction, officials explained. But the precinct is expanding significantly into chunks of territory currently policed by the 77th and 88th Precincts, officials said at a monthly meeting called by Council Member Steve Levin to discuss community concerns about arena impacts.

The boundary will expand in two major ways: first, north across Atlantic Avenue to encompass Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center malls; and second, northeast of Flatbush Avenue to Atlantic and Vanderbilt avenues, thus taking in the rest of the Atlantic Yards site as well as the blocks below, to Plaza Street.

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Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

July 25, 2012

Who knows what the Barclays Center will bring?

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Raanan Geberer

It is now only a matter of months before the Barclays Center opens, changing the face of Downtown Brooklyn forever.

We’re used to audiences pouring out of shows by modern dance companies or a symphony at BAM, but that's nothing compared to the huge crowds that will be coming to the huge 19,000-seat venue for Nets games or to see such blockbuster acts as Rush, Neil Young or The Who. And it will be even busier if the Islanders decide to relocate there.

What will the scene be outside the arena after the events? Will “Gridlock Sam” Schwartz’s transportation plan work? Will Barclays’ security plan work?

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Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

July 24, 2012

MTA begins removing 'ugly' barricade around LIRR Atlantic Terminal

Agency bows to two years of local pressure in Brooklyn

NY Daily News
by Alex Robinson and Pete Donohue

The MTA, bowing to public outrage from Brownstone Brooklyn pols and aesthetes, has begun removing 15 massive granite tombs that have ringed the Long Island Rail Road’s new Atlantic Terminal since its opening two years ago.

Let's hope they don't disturb the remains.

The removal of the perimeter security — consisting of 15 four-foot-high sarcophagi that were far bulkier than they needed to be under NYPD anti-terrorism standards — is a “major victory,” said Councilwoman Letitia James.

“I’m glad the MTA has taken into consideration a lot of objections expressed by my constituents and my office,” she said.

As an alternative, the MTA will install smaller and sleeker metal bollards outside the $108-million rail station.
...

“The MTA and LIRR listened to the concerns of community leaders and local elected officials who felt the stone bollards were intrusive and perhaps out of scale with the project overall,” MTA spokesman Sal Arena [not his real name — only joking] said.

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Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Stones rolled: Atlantic Terminal bollards ripped out!

The bollards didn’t win over many fans at first — but some Brooklynites had grown accustomed to the barricades.

“Where am I going to eat my sandwich now?” asked a disappointed sandwich-toting passerby.

NoLandGrab: Unless this is your sandwich, the new bollards should be fine.

Posted by eric at 9:47 PM

Controversial Atlantic Avenue “Coffins” Now Being Removed in Brooklyn

Transportation Nation
by Andrea Bernstein

Surely this didn't waste too much money...

The imposing concrete bollards surrounding Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal station are coming down.

The so-called “coffins” appeared without warning in 2010, when the new terminal was opened. “More Extreme Than NYPD Counterterror Guidelines” mocked a Streetsblog headline. Urban planners decried the bollards as pedestrian-unfriendly and a backwards model of city design.

The Long Island Rail Road and nine subway lines stop at the Atlantic Terminal station, which will serve the new Barclays Center arena when it opens in September.

New York’s MTA cited unspecified security concerns in installing what the Brooklyn Paper called “sarcophagi.”

Workers there say the bollards will be replaced with “something else,” but there’s no word yet from the MTA on what’s coming.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, WE were the first to call the massive bollards sarcophagi, when we broke the story in early December, 2009.

Photo: Andrea Bernstein/WNYC

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

Clock Starts on Council Review of Barclays Center Security Plan

Letter received by City Council formally starts process of NYPD's 78th Precinct taking over policing at new Brooklyn Nets arena opening this fall.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz and Paul Leonard

Time is ticking.

The City Council recently received a letter from Mayor Michael Bloomberg detailing the New York Police Department's Barclays Center security plan, according to Councilwoman Letitia James, D-Brooklyn.

The letter officially starts a 60-day review process, after which lawmakers are expected to vote on the proposal.

Last week, Patch reported on the contents of the letter that proposed transferring Atlantic Terminal and a portion of Barclays Center from the 88th Precinct based in Clinton Hill to the 78th Precinct covering Prospect Heights and Park Slope.

James said that she does not know when the Council will vote on the policing plan.

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Posted by eric at 10:36 AM

July 19, 2012

Confimed: 78th Precinct in Park Slope to Police Barclays Center

Boundaries between the NYPD's 78th Precinct and 88th Precinct in Fort Greene-Clinton Hill to be redrawn, according to sources.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

The New York Police Department's strategy for keeping visitors and residents safe in and around the soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center just took a major step forward.

An elected official with knowledge of the proposal confirmed that the 78th Precinct in Park Slope will take over policing Barclays Center and Atlantic Terminal.
...

"It came as a surprise to everyone," said Robert Perris, district manager of Community Board 2, regarding Kelly's letter, which was highly anticipated by residents looking for a hint at NYPD's final plan on policing the 17,000-seat arena.

Perris confirmed word of a change in the boundaries of the 78th and 88th precincts, saying that plans would not involve a change of boundaries between Community Board 6 and Community Board 2.

An NYPD spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The City Council must vote to approve the changes after a 60-day review period.

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Posted by eric at 7:17 AM

June 28, 2012

Consistently inconsistent: Marty Markowitz wants the Barclays Center (liquor license, metal detectors) to be treated like other sports facilities--except regarding its fundamental placement in a neighborhood

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, in recent comments on the proposed liquor license for the Barclays Center and the plan to use metal detectors, has had a seemingly consistent message: treat the Brooklyn arena the same as any other sports facility.

The inconsistency? From early on, the Brooklyn arena was not treated the same as any other sports facility.

The state agreed to override city zoning that bars sports facilities from being within 200 feet of residential areas, as well as override many other zoning rules.

So the tight fit of the arena into Prospect Heights has to be recognized, as even Empire State Development CEO Kenneth Adams--whose agency overrides the zoning--acknowledged this week, pointing to the dicey operation of the arena loading dock, with no ramp or holding area for trucks.

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Posted by eric at 11:00 AM

Will Metal Detectors At Barclays Center Make You Feel Like A Criminal?

Gothamist

Actually, just walking into the Barclays Center for an event should make you feel like a criminal — metal detectors or no metal detectors.

The grand opening of the Barclays Center is only three months away, which means everyone has to start dotting their i's and crossing their t's. At a round table meeting between state and Barclays Center officials and community organizations last night, it was revealed that Barclays would have walk-through metal detectors.
...

Borough President Marty Markowitz has previously said he would “vehemently oppose” use of metal detectors as standard operating procedure. But Robert Sena, director of security for the 18,200-seat arena, added that this really is no big deal: “This is not going to be like the airport,” he said. “No one is going to ask to you to take off your shoes and belt.” And yet, he conspicuously doesn't say anything about whether they might try to touch your junk.

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Related coverage...

7online.com, Fans subject to metal detectors, patdowns at Barclays Center

NoLandGrab: The media love a nontroversy! So much easier than covering real issues like court decisions and subsidies.

Posted by eric at 10:45 AM

June 27, 2012

Barclays Center Will Have Metal Detectors, Patdowns

DNAinfo.com
by Leslie Albrecht

This is new technology that is more efficient, more effective, and less intrusive than a wand," Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum said in an email. "We take security very seriously and these detectors will allow us to most effectively screen arena visitors."

The Barclays Center security team will also work closely with security personnel at the nearby Atlantic Center Mall, as well as with the Long Island Rail Road and Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which will "beef up their manning levels" at the newly renamed Atlantic Av-Barclays Center transit hub, watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report wrote.

Officials said the arena could hold up to 18,200 fans during Brooklyn Nets games, and that off-duty NYPD cops would be brought in to handle large-scale crowds.

Community Board 2 chairman John Dew asked whether Barclays Center developer Forest City Ratner Companies would pay for the extra manpower.

"The answer is no," FCRC spokeswoman Ashley Cotton responded.

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NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner has stuck the public with the Atlantic Yards check from the beginning — did you expect them to change now?

Related coverage...

NY1, Report: Barclays Center To Require Metal Detector Pass Throughs

Posted by eric at 5:32 PM

Barclays metal detectors

NY Post
by Rich Calder

In a stunning diss to the Borough of Kings, the head of security for Barclays Center last night said the Nets’ new home will feature walk-through metal detectors that all fans must pass before watching NBA games, concerts and other events when the arena opens Sept. 28.

“We’re taking security very seriously,” Robert Sena, director of security for the 18,200-seat arena, told community leaders at Borough Hall.

He also said there will be game-day bag inspections and that fans “triggering a light” at the metal detectors would be patted down.

No other sporting venue in the tristate area relies on metal detectors. Most – such as Madison Square Garden and MetLife Stadium -- subject fans to pat-downs or “security wands” that pick up metal objects.

Sena said metal detectors are “less intrusive” than being patted down, but even some of the Nets’ biggest supporters aren’t on board with the arena security plan.

“I was considering getting season tickets, but I don’t want to feel like a criminal when I go to a game,” said longtime fan Robert Master, 34, of Brooklyn. “They don’t even have metal detectors at [the Nets former home] Prudential Center, and crime is much worse in Newark than Brooklyn.”

Borough President Marty Markowitz, who led the push to bring the Nets to Brooklyn, said he’d “vehemently oppose” use of metal detectors as standard operating procedure.

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NoLandGrab: Marty will "vehemently oppose" Nets' fans having to walk through metal detectors, but he doesn't seem too concerned that quite a few Brooklyn public school students have to do the same when going school.

Posted by eric at 12:58 PM

April 11, 2012

Atlantic Yards and 311: An open letter to Mayor Bloomberg

Atlantic Yards Watch

Recently, we were informed by representatives of your office that all callers reporting Atlantic Yards incidents to 311 would be required to identify the location of the incident as “620 Atlantic Avenue” so 311 would be able to identify the report as being related to Atlantic Yards. This is the case even if the incident being reported is blocks away from 620 Atlantic Avenue. Frankly, we don’t think this is going to work. For the last eight years, thousands of people living near the project have been used to thinking of the site as “Atlantic Yards” or “Barclays Center,” in part because Forest City Ratner has spent hundreds of thousands or perhaps millions of dollars publicizing those names. Nobody recognizes “620 Atlantic Avenue.” However, we were told that enabling the 311 system to key incident reports to “Atlantic Yards” or “Barclays Center” would require the entire system to be rewritten.

We admit we found this hard to believe. It doesn’t seem possible that 311 is unable to take a report based on a common place name instead of a street address. We doubt many people know the street addresses of Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, or Citi Field, for instance. We would like to think that a person calling 311 about a problem at the Grand Army Plaza subway station would be able to be served.

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NoLandGrab: Maybe there should be a separate phone number for reporting ceaseless Atlantic Yards infractions. Do you think 666 is taken?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards Watch: maybe "620 Atlantic Avenue" isn't such a good ID for AY-related incidents

Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

April 6, 2012

Consultant: arena curtain wall has several deficiencies that need corrective work

Atlantic Yards Report

The latest Site Observation Report by Merritt & Harris, the real estate consultant to the arena PILOT Bond Trustee (and Forest City Ratner/ESDC), dated 4/2/12, reports new problems related to the arena curtain wall, the responsibility of the ill-fated subcontractor ASI Limited, which shut down briefly at the end of last year.

Beyond the delay in preparing and constructing the weathered steel panels, the curtain wall installation has several problems, including "pinched power cables at panel lighting," "misaligned junction between curtain wall panels," and "damaged insulation/vapor barrier on curtain wall panels."

It's not clear how serious the defects are and how long they will take to correct, but ASI Limited is expected to perform the corrective work.

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NoLandGrab: Surely those deficiencies won't affect its blast resistance, though, right? Right?

Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

March 16, 2012

What Precinct Should be the Point Guard for the Barclays Center? [POLL]

Initial reports said that the 78th Precinct would police the arena, but the final decision has yet to be made.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz

The Barclays Center footprint straddles two police precincts and two community boards—making the decision of which precinct should police the arena when it opens in September a hard one.

Initial reports said that the 78th Precinct, which is only a block away on Sixth Avenue, will police the arena. However, the Barclays Center is technically located within the 88th Precinct’s borders, but it is a half-mile away from the precinct’s station house in Clinton Hill.

On Wednesday Patch reported that the decision, which will be finalized by the Mayor and City Council, is still up in the air.
...

What do you think? Who should police the new arena?

Click the link to take the poll.

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NoLandGrab: This is likely a contest without any winners.

Posted by eric at 12:48 PM

March 15, 2012

NYPD: no decision has been made regarding precinct assignment for Barclays Center

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder has more from this morning's Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting on plans for policing the Barclays Center.

Contradicting an anonymously sourced New York Post article, a New York Police Department official this morning indicated that no decision has been made to assign police coverage of the Barclays Center arena to the 78th Precinct, whose stationhouse is just a block away.

The arena site actually covers two precincts, and the entire Atlantic Yards project involves a third precinct. City Council Member Letitia James has proposed a special annex shared by all three precincts.

Inspector Terrence Riley of the Office of Management Analysis & Planning, said that "my office's report [on the precinct] is not even complete." The report, and decision, will not be made until after consultation with the community, including Council Member James.

Riley, speaking at the bimonthly meeting of the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet, was thanked by James, who was in attendance.

Riley said his office collects data, including response times, and crime density, to "try to come to a logical conclusion."

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Posted by eric at 1:18 PM

Barclays Police Detail Still Up in the Air

News that the 78th Precinct would police the arena was premature, according to CB 6 district manager Craig Hammerman.

Park Slope Patch
by Will Yakowicz with Paul Leonard

The city is still bouncing around who will be in charge of policing the Barclays Center when the 19,000-seat arena opens in September.

Although it was initially reported that the 78th Precinct would police the Barclays Center, the decision on which precinct will keep order around the arena has yet to be confirmed, officials said.

"No decisions have been made," Craig Hammerman, the district manager of Community Board 6 said on Wednesday night. "The police are unable to identify who leaked the information from the police to the press, but it's not true."

The arena is technically in the 88th Precinct's borders, but a half-mile away from the station house in Clinton Hill. The 78th Precinct on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope is a stone's throw away from the arena.

Since police precincts must coincide with community board boundaries, a variance will have to be voted on by the City Council before 78th Precinct can take over policing.

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Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

March 9, 2012

Tish James Says NYPD Should Have Consulted with Community on Barclays Policing

A police annex at the Barclays Center and a collaborate effort between police precincts would have been more effective, she says.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

Earlier this week, the NYPD chose the 78th Precinct to keep order at the Barclays Center because of it’s station house’s proximity to the under-construction arena, but Councilmember Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, says there should have been more of a discussion between the police, elected officials and community groups before the decision.
...

According to James, her solution would be to “place new officers in a police annex dedicated to the Barclays arena site,” with the 77th, 78th and 88th precincts working collaboratively. Developer Forest City Ratner, she says, should underwrite the cost of security.

“There is no reason to cherry-pick from one precinct over another, and no reason to take vital resources from any precinct,” said James. The most important factor is ensuring that the officers in these local precincts remain dedicated to community policing.”

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Posted by eric at 2:25 PM

March 7, 2012

Council Member James: rather than assign 78th Precinct to police arena, create new annex shared by three precincts; also, she still hasn't seen security plan

Atlantic Yards Report

City Council Member Letitia James is not pleased with the decision, conveyed via a New York Post article but not apparently an official announcement, that the New York Police Department will assign the 78th Precinct in Brooklyn to police the Barclays Center arena.

Why? It ignores issues of overlapping jurisdictions, leading her to propose instead an annex shared by the three precincts that currently have jurisdiction over the Atlantic Yards sites, with all additional costs underwritten by the developer.

The 78th Precinct stationhouse is a block away, though the arena is located at the far north of the precinct. The other two precincts have stationhouses located at the far eastern ends of their territories.

James's press statement asserts that the "arena is located in Prospect Heights, which is covered by the 77th Precinct (with the boundaries for the 88th Precinct ending across the street)."

Actually, as noted in the map at right and the map I ran earlier in the week, the 78th and 88th Precincts share jurisdiction over the arena site, indicated in red. The stationhouse for the 78th is denoted by the blue indicator.

Click through for the Council Member's statement.

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Related content...

Gothamist, NYPD Precincts Fight For Right To Police Barclays Center, With Park Slope Winning

"Winning" might not be exactly the right word.

The 78th Station house is a block away from the arena, and one source at the 78th argues, "The overtime was going up whether we got the arena or not. If something happens at the arena and a cop isn’t around, most people are going to walk into our [station house] to report it because we’re across the street. They’re not traveling all the way to the 88th, so obviously, our workload is going up. And don’t get me started with the traffic and scalpers. Yes, many people are looking forward to more overtime. But the arena is going to be a nightmare to deal with."

Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

March 6, 2012

The Day: Let’s Talk About Bollards

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]

Today’s news update is almost entirely dominated by security at the Barclays Center, specifically bollards — you know, those ugly, but necessary, security stanchions that surround all our public buildings in this “post-9-11″ world:

The bollards at the Barclays Center (circled) aren’t visible from the street because of a construction fence, but they appear to be similar to security perimeters at other public buildings.

link

Photo: Gersh Kuntzman/The Local

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

NYPD's 78th Precinct Will Keep Order at Barclays Center

Though the Barclays Center is actually located within the 88th Precinct, Park Slope station house is closer to the arena.

Park Slope Patch
by Jamie Schuh

The decision will mean more cops in the 78th Precinct, and the paper says that it could also create “mega-overtime” for the officers who have to deal with arena traffic, scalpers and unruly sports fans.

So while the choice could be a win for Park Slope residents who will benefit from increased security, the article says that some community leaders in the 88th Precinct aren’t too happy with the NYPD’s decision.

“The 88th Precinct will be affected by the arena just as much as the [78th Precinct]—if not more—so we should be getting the extra cops because crime is already higher here,” an anonymous Fort Greene activist told the Post.

link

NoLandGrab: People, people, no sense fighting. Between Bruce Ratner's malls, political benefactors, consultants, other consultants, and his arena, there'll be plenty of crime to go around.

Posted by eric at 11:12 AM

March 5, 2012

Arena a Net gain for cops

NY Post
by Rebecca Harshbarger and Rich Calder

It was a jump ball, and the 78th Precinct won it.

NYPD brass are set to tap Brooklyn’s 78th Precinct to maintain order at the NBA Nets’ new home — the Barclays Center — when it opens in September, bypassing the 88th Precinct, whose current boundaries actually include the Prospect Heights-based arena, The Post has learned.

Supporters say the move makes sense logistically because of the arena’s proximity to the 78th’s station house. But foes are crying foul.

The plum designation, confirmed by NYPD sources, ends a behind-the-scenes lobbying battle between both precincts for the arena gig.

The move is expected to increase staffing at the 78th Precinct, which predominately covers affluent Park Slope, and create potential mega-overtime for the cops there to cope with arena traffic and patrons.

NYPD sources and Park Slope community leaders say the decision makes sense.

The under-construction, 18,000-seat arena at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues technically falls within the 88th Precinct, but it’s a half-mile from the precinct’s station house in Fort Greene — yet just a block away from the 78th Precinct.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Post: 78th Precinct chosen to oversee arena; it's closest, though technically includes only part of site

The Post quotes NYPD and community leaders as endorsing the plan, given the proximity of the 78th station house, at Bergen Street and Sixth Avenue one block south of the arena.

There is a logic there, but, as the graphic (from Blight Study attached to the Atlantic Yards General Project Plan) indicates, the arena site--west of Sixth Avenue and between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue, is not solely in the 88th Precinct, but rather shared with the 78th.

Posted by eric at 9:57 AM

Atlantic Terminal security sarcophagi removal pushed back

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

The massive granite barricades ringing the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal will be ripped out later this year — not starting last month like the MTA originally said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will tap a contractor this month to replace unpopular security sarcophagi at the entrance to the borough’s busiest transit hub with stainless steel cylinders, but a spokesman would only promise that the boulders will be removed during the “early part” of the year-long construction project.
...

The hugely oversized bollards were met with similar criticism when the glitzy $106-million Atlantic Terminal renovation wrapped up in January, 2010.

At the time, LIRR President Helena Williams said the security measure was necessary to meet NYPD standards, but the bollards actually exceed police criteria in height and proximity to each other.

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NoLandGrab: Let's not forget that this web site had the scoop on the installation of the unsightly sarcophagi way back on December 7, 2009.

Posted by eric at 9:35 AM

January 30, 2012

Lingering questions: Where's the Barclays Center security plan? What precinct will be in charge? Who'll pay for traffic agents?

Atlantic Yards Report

Local elected officials are still waiting to examine the security plan presumably prepared for the Barclays Center arena, but are not getting very far. No one knows yet which police precinct will be in charge of the arena.

And there's still no clarity on whether the developer would pay for traffic agents needed for the area.

In other words, as the opening of the Barclays Center approaches in September, some major questions remain unanswered, as was aired at the Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting January 26, held at Brooklyn Borough Hall with agencies and officials whose work touches on the project.

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NoLandGrab: Don't worry, the NYPD has this covered — they're just going to show The Third Jihad on the Jumbotron before every arena event.

Posted by eric at 11:28 AM

January 5, 2012

Bollard plans approved by DOT, but only after new technical memo saying sidewalk with effective width in one spot of just two feet would be OK

Atlantic Yards Report

So, what if the sidewalks around the Barclays Center will be smaller than analyzed in the 2006 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), presenting potential bottlenecks?

It'll be fine, says the Department of Transportation (DOT)--but that required not one but two technical memoranda produced by a consultant to to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to say that a narrow sidewalk, with an effective width in one spot near the arena of just 2 feet, would be OK.

So that means installation of 206 security bollards--178 fixed, 28 removable, one foot in diameter--and other street furniture has gone on as planned.

And, I'd bet, we'll see arena-goers stepping into Atlantic Avenue lanes adjacent to the sidewalk.

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NoLandGrab: So who's going to be responsible when the first pedestrian fatality occurs?

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Watch, DOT approves plan for arena block bollards after yet another Technical Memo attempts to patch a flawed analysis

Although the plans submitted by FCRC in August showed both temporary and permanent departures from conditions analyzed in the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement, ESDC apparently did not ask its environmental consultant HDR to review the plans until after AYW's initial analysis was published.

What followed is a quintessential Atlantic Yards story. The deadline for public comment, initially scheduled for mid-August when Community Boards do not meet and residents are often away, was extended when it was discovered the incorrect Community Board had been provided the plans for review and approval. The deadline was extended a second time when it was discovered a security wall (the same wall producing the narrowest sidewalk on the arena block) had not been colored red (as new) in the plans. A Technical Memo written by HDR was released to the public less than 24 hours before the revocable consent hearing on October 5th, which acknowledged narrower widths but maintained that the level of service (LOS) of the sidewalks would remain within an acceptable range. Our review of the Technical Memo pointed out shortcomings in its analysis, stating the analysis did not take into account in full the obstructions and shy distances evident in the bollard plans, or changes to pedestrian walking routes on sidewalks.

Posted by eric at 12:45 PM

November 2, 2011

Montgomery asks NYPD for details on arena security study

Atlantic Yards Report

State Senator Velmanette Montgomery has sent a letter (below) asking New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly for "access to the updated security study" the department has conducted regarding the Barclays Center arena.

She pointed out that streets next to the Prudential Center in Newark are closed during events, and the Atlantic Yards arena initially had similar setbacks:

The Arena is now even closer to the street than in earlier designs. There is now an overhang on the section bordering Atlantic Avenue that goes almost completely to the street. There is an attached steel web skin hovering in front of the full glass walls. In sum, this arena design seems a far greater security risk than even the previous design. The public is quite understandably concerned.

Previous requests

At a meeting on September 26 with state officials, concerned residents also asked for access to the study, acknowledging that particularly sensitive parts would be redacted.

As Eric McClure of Park Slope Neighbors (and No Land Grab) pointed out, Forest City Ratner was evasive in 2007 when asked how far the arena would be from the street, after Newark decided to close adjacent streets during events.

“We don’t need to know points of vulnerability, but it would really help the community’s comfort level to know, in an ironclad way, we’re not going to close a lane of Flatbush Avenue, or Atlantic Avenue on game nights,” he said.

Kenneth Adams, CEO of Empire State Development, nodded but otherwise gave no quarter.

At a hearing 10/5/11 on plans for bollards, Prospect Heights activist Alan Rosner also called for greater transparency, warning that lanes next to the Brooklyn arena would have to be closed.

link

Montgomery Letter to Kelly on Arena Security

Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

October 6, 2011

At DOT hearing on bollard plan, a challenge to claim that an effective width of 5'2" would not create sidewalk bottleneck outside arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Clearly New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) hearings on "revocable consents"--permission to install structures on city property--are typically pro forma affairs, held in a small conference room in a Lower Manhattan building.

Well, yesterday's hearing, which included consideration of the bollard and street furniture plan for the Atlantic Yards arena block, was a little different. DOT staffers were faced with detailed testimony that took issue with a just-produced claim that a smaller sidewalk, with an effective width of 5'2", would make no difference to pedestrians.

After all, as testimony from the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC) indicated, the official analysis was based on 2006 pedestrian counts, not those generated by 2009 changes in the project plan which could deliver more people to the south side of Atlantic Avenue west of Pacific Street.

Will those comments make a difference? Unclear, but DOT will accept further comments through October 15 (via Emma Berenblit at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov) and will review these in consultation with other DOT divisions or other agencies.

No deadline has been set for the agency's decision, though the latest Atlantic Yards Construction Alert indicated that a reconfiguration of Flatbush Avenue MPT (Maintenance and Protection of Traffic)--which recently began--would set the stage for bollard installation and facade work.

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Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

Mayor Michael Bloomberg In the Regalia of Queen Elizabeth I? Noticing New York’s Testimony at the DOT Hearing on Atlantic Yards Bollard Plan

Noticing New York

Michael D.D. White recounts his colorful testimony at yesterday's New York City Department of Transportation hearing on the Barclays Center bollards plan.

You can read up on all the details of it if you want in Atlantic Yards Report but the gist of the matter is that the Ratner/Prokhorov arena, even in its diminished non-hockey-accommodating size, is not fitting very comfortably into the neighborhood space that’s already been seized for it. Among other things, security is an issue since these days arenas have to be presumed to be attractive targets for terrorists (even if they hide out in or take brownstone neighborhoods hostage as human shields). That means that bollards are necessary.

Bottom line, because of the poor fit that has been managed the public, as a solution, is expected to surrender its expectation of adequate sidewalk space. The arena doesn’t have the dainty Cinderella glass-slipper-scale footprint that was once promised to slide easily into the neighborhood and instead its extra step-sisterish size mass is being squeezed and forced in. The original Cinderella folk tale involved the ugly step-sisters hacking off their toes as they pretended they could fit into the glass slipper. That’s what we’ve got going on here, some hacking off of toes- The public is losing its sidewalk.

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Posted by eric at 10:21 AM

October 4, 2011

Hearing tomorrow at 2 pm on bollard plan for arena block

Atlantic Yards Report

The bollard plan for the Atlantic Yards arena block will be the subject of a standard public hearing--which also will address three other "revocable consents"--held by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday, 10/5/11.

The hearing will be held at 55 Water Street, 7th Floor, Room 707, beginning at 2 pm. "Revocable consents," which grant permission to install structures on city property, typically start for a term of ten years.

link

Posted by eric at 12:07 PM

September 23, 2011

DOT sets hearing on bollard plan for arena block: Oct. 5 at 2 pm

Atlantic Yards Report

The bollard plan for the Atlantic Yards arena block will be the subject of a standard public hearing--which also will address three other "revocable consents"--held by the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) on Wednesday, 10/5/11.

The hearing will be held at 55 Water Street, 7th Floor, Room 707, beginning at 2 pm. "Revocable consents," which grant permission to install structures on city property, typically start for a term of ten years.

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NoLandGrab: It's with great wistfulness that we recall those halcyon days, before threat of terrorism became the norm, and bollards par for the sidewalk — in 2007.

Posted by eric at 4:59 PM

September 16, 2011

CB2 Votes To Support Atlantic Yards Bollard Plan

DOT hearing on issue to be held in early October.

Park Slope Patch
by Paul Leonard

A controversial plan to install bollards at Atlantic Yards moved forward Wednesday evening with a vote by Community Board 2 to support the construction of 206 barriers around the perimeter of the Barclays Center site.

According to Atlantic Yards Report, an executive with Forest City Ratner, Jane Marshall, confirmed there would be an October hearing set on the issue.

At CB2's regular monthly meeting, Marshall hinted that a portion of the sidewalk going eastbound toward Sixth Avenue would be close to coming under a width of 20 feet due to a temporary construction barrier tied to a residential portion of the site.

That admission seemed likely to stoke neigborhood concerns about a bottleneck for arena-bound pedestrians.

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NoLandGrab: Actually, that portion of sidewalk along Atlantic Avenue just west of Sixth Avenue will be less than 10 feet wide, with an "effective width" of five-and-a-half feet, for perhaps several years. And that was not disclosed in the worthless Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by eric at 11:46 AM

September 15, 2011

Community Board 2 votes to support bollard plan; DOT hearing in October; state memo coming on truncated sidewalk

Atlantic Yards Report

Well, chalk up one victory for process, if not exactly rigorous oversight.

Developer Forest City Ratner did attend the monthly meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 2 last night, despite doubts that the developer would appear, and made a fairly brief presentation about the 206 bollards planned for the perimeter of the arena block.

After asking the barest of questions, the board--which was anticipating a presentation by City Comptroller John Liu, who was in the wings--voted unanimously to support the plan as pending before the Department of Transportation (DOT). Five board members abstained, perhaps because of lingering wariness toward the project.

Hearing and memo coming

Forest City Ratner executive Jane Marshall did reveal two important pieces of process-related information. The Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing in early October on the bollard issue, and will leave the record open for ten days and will respond to comments, she said. (No date is listed yet on the DOT web site.)

She also acknowledged that there had been expressions of concern that the sidewalk on Atlantic Avenue going east from the arena to Sixth Avenue would be less than the promised 20 feet--the consequence of a temporary wall that would be replaced when a residential building is finally construction.

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Posted by eric at 12:32 PM

September 12, 2011

Community Board 2 to discuss bollard plan at meeting Wednesday; Forest City Ratner invited but not confirmed

Atlantic Yards Report

Brooklyn Community Board 2, which includes the largest portion of the Atlantic Yards arena block/plaza, on Wednesday, September 14 has put on its monthly meeting agenda discussion of the bollard arrangement proposed by developer Forest City Ratner around the block bounded by Flatbush, Atlantic, and Sixth avenues.

The bollards, not previously subject to public discussion, would cut the effective width of sidewalk.

The meeting will be held at Brooklyn Hospital Center, 121 DeKalb Avenue at St. Felix Street, beginning at 6 pm. The agenda includes numerous items, including five committee reports, before the bollard plan is listed under "new business."

Developer Forest City Ratner is listed as "invited, not confirmed," which doesn't sound promising. Note that the developer did not publicly release the bollard plan in the first place.

Brooklyn Community Board 6 also has its monthly meeting at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, September 14, to be held at New York Methodist Hospital, at 506 6th Street. The bollard plan is not mentioned on the agenda though there is an opportunity for members of the public to address the board.

Deadline for comments on the bollard plan to the Department of Transportation is September 22; comments should be sent to Emma Berenblit at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.

link

Posted by eric at 11:40 AM

August 30, 2011

MTA agrees to remove coffin-like bollards outside Atlantic Terminal, says replacements less intrusive (maybe also to accommodate larger crowds?)

Atlantic Yards Report

In Bollard backtrack! MTA reverses course on Atlantic Terminal security sarcophagi, the Brooklyn Paper has a scoop:

The MTA has agreed to tear out the massive granite barricades ringing the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal, finally admitting that the concrete coffins at the borough’s largest transit hub were excessive and ugly.
...

I suspect there's another reason for the bollard switch: by eliminating wide bollards that slow people down but don't add significant safety regarding vehicle intrusion, travelers will be able to get into and out from the station much faster.

And that would be necessary to accommodate those visiting the nearby arena scheduled to open in about a year.

Note that smaller metal bollards are also planned for the perimeter of the Atlantic Yards arena site.

link

Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

Bollard backtrack! MTA reverses course on Atlantic Terminal security sarcophagi

The Brooklyn Paper
by Daniel Bush

It's getting increasingly difficult to keep track of the bollards around here. The Barclays Center, which the NYPD in 2007 said wouldn't require bollards, is going to get more than 200 of them. And now, less than two years after NoLandGrab broke the story of the Atlantic Terminal's massive, tomb-like bollards, the MTA says it's going to downsize them.

The MTA has agreed to tear out the massive granite barricades ringing the Long Island Rail Road’s Atlantic Terminal, finally admitting that the concrete coffins at the borough’s largest transit hub were excessive and ugly.

Starting in February, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will rip out the 14 stone sarcophagi and replace them with a series of short metal bollards at the entrance to the $106-million Atlantic Terminal, which opened to immediate criticism in January, 2010.

Actually, they pre-opened to our criticism on December 7, 2009, to be precise.

MTA spokesman Sal Arena acknowledged that the stunning reversal was a response to outcry over the massive security perimeter.

“The new, smaller bollards are less intrusive and more acceptable to the community,” Arena said.

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NoLandGrab: And in a landmark deal, Barclays has purchased the naming rights, and the MTA spokesman will now be known as Sal Barclays.

Photo: Barry Shifrin/The Brooklyn Paper

Posted by eric at 10:17 AM

August 23, 2011

DOT extends deadline one month to comment on bollard plan; Rosner argues that security study needed before plan approval

Atlantic Yards Report

This morning, I reported that Community Boards 2 and 6, which cover the Community Districts where bollards would be placed around the Atlantic Yards arena and plaza, had not seen the bollard plan filed in July, because it had been mistakenly sent to Community Board 8.

Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, had expressed dismay, given that the deadline for comment was August 25, leaving the board's Land Use Committee without an opportunity to examine and perhaps comment on such a plan.

Today Perris reports that the Department of Transportation Office of Franchises, Concessions and Consents sent the petition for revocable consent and related drawings to CBs 2 and 6, with a September 22 deadline for comment.

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Posted by eric at 1:10 PM

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY: Full Security Study Needed Before Approval of Bollard Plan

Alan Rosner, who co-authored a white paper on arena security and terrorism issues in 2005, is urging NoLandGrab readers to ask the New York City Department of Transportation to postpone approval of Forest City Ratner's bollard plan for the Barclays Center pending a thorough security study.

In 2005, Forest City Ratner paid for a private security study. In 2006, the Empire State Development Corporation used that study to assert that closed-circuit television, along with private security guards, would meet all the security needs of the proposed sports arena. That claim, and the claim that the threat of terrorism did not warrant study in the Environmental Impact Statement, was successfully defended in court by Forest City and the ESDC.

If bollards are now suddenly required, it is only because this is a sports arena hard by Brooklyn’s largest transit hub. Yet in today’s environment, vehicle-stopping bollards are useless if a truck bomb gets too close to its target. How close is what matters most, and the design of the Barclays Center violates the city’s and every Federal agency’s standards on “close."

Just two weeks before Newark’s Prudential Arena opened in 2007, that city ordered street closings for every hockey game. Brooklyn’s busiest intersections can’t just be closed when games are played because of some last-minute, legally imposed-but-otherwise-belated security measures. Now is the time for a comprehensive look at the whole issue based on readily available New York City standards.

Judge Marcy Friedman cited Forest City and the ESDC for withholding material information from the courts in her recent decision against them. They are doing that again, this time in their petition to the Department of Transportation.

If we can’t postpone DOT's decision, don’t be surprised when some time next year city officials make a summary announcement of necessary street and/or lane changes or closings, of time and/or vehicle restrictions, etc., all being imposed for our safety… showing once again that Brooklyn, and not basketball, has been played.

The deadline for submitting comments to DOT regarding the Barclays Center bollard plan is this Thursday, August 25th has been extended until September 22nd. Comments can be sent via email to Emma Berenblit, director, at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.

Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

Why didn't CB 2 and CB 6 get bollard plan? Forest City produced evasive document, and DOT and CB 8 then erred

Atlantic Yards Report

News that the city Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering a plan to install bollards and tree beds around the Atlantic Yards arena site--plans that cut the "effective width" of nearby sidewalks, likely causing event-related bottlnecks--came as a surprise to the two Brooklyn Community Boards, CB 2 and CB 6, that might comment on such a plan within their jurisdictions.

That's because of a skein of errors and, I'd contend, obfuscation by developer Forest City Ratner.

The DOT, fed somewhat misleading information by the developer, last month sent plans to Community Board 8, the only one of the three project-affected Community Boards that does not have jurisdiction over the arena block. Nor did CB 8 did not forward the plans to its neighbors.

As shown in the map below, the dark blue lines indicate CB boundaries, and the light blue box indicates the approximate location of the arena, west of Sixth Avenue. The arena plaza, also the site of bollards, extends to the triangle just west of the arena within CB 2; though shown on this map, Fifth Avenue has already been demapped.

What next?

Robert Perris, District Manager of Community Board 2, said the board's Land Use Committee typically considers such applications and may make a comment.

"I've reached out to my Chair," he said yesterday, indicating that, given that the deadline to comment (as first noted in Atlantic Yards Watch) to the DOT is Thursday, August 25, the board might ask for the deadline to be extended. "It was not our mistake," he said, that they learned about it so late.

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Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

August 22, 2011

Thorny Barclays Center Arena Security Issue Arises Again. Explanations Needed.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Remember that thorny arena street setback security issue that arose back in 2007? Well it is time to start discussing it again. What it looks like is that Forest City and NY State have a project design that focuses on creating an arena walled off from the neighborhoods, and divides the landscape, but the many barriers they've erected don't actually add up to a secure facility, only one that's separate from the surrounding environment.

In a must-read article on security and sidewalks, Norman Oder reports on the details stemming from a new planning document Forest City has submitted to the DOT.

link

Posted by eric at 9:40 PM

Barclays Center will be much closer than 20 feet from street above ground level (though more at sidewalk); also, new documents reveal bollard plan, suggest effective width of sidewalk less than disclosed, creating bottleneck

Atlantic Yards Report

A must-read on security and sidewalks from Norman Oder.

Newly revealed security-related transportation documents for the Atlantic Yards arena indicate that, contrary to previous suggestions that no bollards would be needed, 206 such bollards--178 fixed, 28 removable, one foot in diameter--would be installed at the facility's perimeter.

Moreover, despite previous claims by Forest City Ratner that the arena would be 20 feet from the street, new city documents confirm that the structure would be considerably closer--less than 12 feet--above ground level along Atlantic Avenue, a configuration ambiguously disclosed previously in state documents and obfuscated by the developer. (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

The above graphic, excerpted from a New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) document (below), shows the bollards and tree pits on the Atlantic Avenue sidewalk bordering the north side of arena. It also indicates that the arena's "overhead canopy" essentially meets the property line, which is 11'8" (11.5 ft) from the street.

Further complicating the situation, the new documents reveal that, in the strip of Atlantic Avenue sidewalk just east of the arena, the sidewalk is 9.5 ft wide. Given typical buffer zone subtractions, the effective width of the sidewalk would be 5.5 feet, much less than disclosed in the environmental review and likely a bottleneck for arena-bound pedestrians, as noted by Atlantic Yards Watch.

The DOT is accepting comments on the plans through Thursday, August 25 by email to Emma Berenblit at eberenblit@dot.nyc.gov.
...

The security issue

Would Brooklyn face a situation akin to Newark, where streets surrounding the Prudential Center are closed on game days? The ESDC said "there are no plans to close streets," which does leave some wiggle room.

As the New York Times reported 11/27/07:

[Forest City Ratner spokesman] Mr. [Loren] Riegelhaupt confirmed that this meant that at all points, the arena would be set back at least 20 feet from the street.

...That is the same distance as the Newark arena is from its neighboring streets. So what’s different about the Atlantic Yards arena? That, Mr. Riegelhaupt said, is a security question, to be directed to the Police Department. The Police Department has said that its policy is not to comment on such matters.

Riegelhaupt's answer may have been narrowly true--at all ground level points, the arena would be set back at least 20 feet from the street, but the question should be: what about when the arena is less than 20 feet from the street above ground level?

Forest City Ratner and the New York Police Department have surely had many high-level discussions on security. But shouldn't they explain, at least in outline, why the Brooklyn design is safer than the one in Newark? Or make the case that Newark is overreacting?

After all, plans have already changed. A NYPD spokesman told the 11/30/07 Brooklyn Daily Eagle that "the department doesn’t foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena or the instillation [sic] of bollards."

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Posted by eric at 11:32 AM

July 4, 2011

Sunday @ Atlantic Yards / Barclays Center

A Daily Photo
by brooklynpix

The Nets’ arena is growing by the day, and what’s most striking is that the sides of the building are going to be up against the roadway. It’s a narrow fit. The nearby intersections are hellish, but now traffic cops are frequently posted at the three main lights, so that helps.

[Emphasis, ours.]

link

NoLandGrab: Critics have been wondering what the proximity of the arena, especially to Atlantic Avenue, where it appears to be about 10 feet from the roadbed, means for security. Newark police close a street before, during and after games at the Prudential Center that is 25 feet from the arena.

Posted by eric at 10:52 AM

February 9, 2011

Video suggests maybe those Atlantic Terminal bollards, however ugly, work as street furniture

Atlantic Yards Report

When the bollards outside the Atlantic Terminal station emerged in December 2009, they were tagged by No Land Grab's Eric McClure as "a closely spaced series of enormous, intrusive, Sarcophagus-like — and butt-ugly — blocks."

(Photo by Adrian Kinloch)

The Brooklyn Paper's Gersh Kuntzman followed up in a 1/26/10 article pointing out that the New York Police Department advises that bollards “measure between 30 and 36 inches in height” and be spaced 48 inches apart--but the ones outside Atlantic Terminal are 50 to 52 inches high and in some places are 36 inches apart.

Plans for the Barclays Center plaza nearby include bollards, but not like these. "We're not making that mistake," said Forest City Ratner's Jane Marshall at a public meeting last September. "These are very simple standard bollards, that were approved by the security board and countererrorism."

A second look

Brooklyn architect Jeff Geisinger, however, recently filmed the plaza as an exercise in documenting public place. His video (below), he suggests, "demonstrates the effectiveness of the bollards as urban furniture and as a buffer to the bustling traffic of Flatbush Avenue, despite their bulky, unattractive aesthetic."

link

NoLandGrab: Sure, people can sit on them. But we stand by our original appraisal.

Posted by eric at 11:08 AM

October 5, 2010

Teen-repellent device removed in Washington, but teens still not welcome in many public places

Grist
by Sarah Goodyear

Like in Bruce Ratner's kinda, sorta publicly accessible taxpayer-subsidized private space.

The use of public places by teenagers remains controversial in many communities across the country.

The Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, N.Y., is one recent example. A public plaza in front of the development's planned basketball arena might be off-limits to groups of four or more people under the age of 21 without an adult escort.
...

Whether you do it with a Mosquito or with old-fashioned security guards, the routine dispersal of teenagers does raise issues about the nature of public space -- the vital essence of a dynamic and productive city. This is especially true when developers, like Ratner, tout the creation of plazas open to the public in exchange for often disruptive demolition and construction in a neighborhood, and then want to restrict access to those places.
...

Instead of banning teenagers wholesale, what about enforcing laws against disorderly conduct, vandalism, panhandling, or whatever the actual offense may be -- no matter the age of the offenders?

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NoLandGrab: Why not use the "traditional method" of teen repellence and pipe in a little classical music?

Posted by eric at 9:30 PM

October 2, 2010

Ratner promises reasonable bollards

The Brooklyn Paper
By Andy Campbell

Developers of the Long Island Rail Road terminal made a “mistake” when they installed massive, tomb-like bollards in front of their new train station earlier this year — a mistake that Forest City Ratner says it will not make across the street at the Barclays Center.

In a bombshell dropped at a public meeting on Wednesday night about the plaza that will sit outside the Barclays Center, Forest City Ratner officials said the LIRR’s designers blew it on the excessive, granite, sarcophagus-style counter-terrorism bollards outside the building.

link

NoLandGrab: First we were told that there weren't going to be any bollards, now there are. Why does Forest City Ratner even bother trying to make any more promises?

Posted by steve at 8:24 AM

July 19, 2010

Citizens Union: "there is a need to integrate 21st century security concerns into land use decision-making"

Atlantic Yards Report

Remember the issue of security?

The good-government group Citizens Union (CU), in its lengthy comments to the Charter Revision Commission on land use and other issues (more here), says "there is a need to integrate 21st century security concerns into land use decision-making."

Oh. The CU was never out front on Atlantic Yards, and its comment do not specifically invoke AY, but they essentially back up concerns by AY opponents and critics that terrorism and security should have been considered not merely--as they surely have been--by the developer and the police, but in the environmental review.

As of now, no streets are supposed to be closed outside the Atlantic Yards arena, even though--at least in a previous incarnation--the distance to the arena was no greater than at the Prudential Center in Newark, where streets are closed.

(Given the re-orientation of the arena, the distance from the street, at least on Flatbush Avenue, likely would be greater.)

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NoLandGrab: Norman Oder might be correct about the Flatbush Avenue setback, but this Michael D.D. White photo of the Barclays Center model makes it look like the arena will virtually overhang Atlantic Avenue — surely a security no-no.

Posted by eric at 1:21 PM

March 23, 2010

Paper trail shows a lack of LIRR openness on bollards

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

Newly obtained blueprints reveal that city officials were considering building the tomb-like bollards at the Long Island Railroad terminal at Atlantic Avenue and Hanson Place in 2005 — though at least two renderings were subsequently released to the public without those drastic security measures.

The documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Law, show that the architectural firm on the project, John di Domenico and Partners, along with the Long Island Rail Road, were exchanging plans for the large security barriers and stone benches in May, 2005 — almost five years before those much-criticized barricades would be unveiled to the public.

Renderings of the Barclays Center variously indicate small bollards or a complete absence of bollards — and the NYPD told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle in 2007 that they didn't "foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena or the instillation of bollards."

But the blueprints also contradict a statement made by LIRR President Helena Williams to a Brooklyn Paper reporter on the day of the terminal’s opening this year, when she said that the bollards were not part of the design when construction began in earnest in 2005.

One rendering, which first surfaced in 2008 — though sources say it predates the summer of 2006 — depicts a gorgeous LIRR terminal without any bollards at all.

Another, released in 2007, depicts an entrance ringed by knee-high benches.

The reality at the entrance is quite different: The actual bollards are 50 to 52- inches high, and in some places, a mere 36-inches apart. They are massive and resemble ancient Egyptian sarcophagi.
...

The security measures — as well as the lack of clarity about how the measurements of the bollards were determined — have raised concerns that the nearby Barclays Center will also be ringed by mega-bollards without any public input.

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Related coverage...

The Brooklyn Paper, Int’l terror expert speaks: LIRR bollards are ‘overkill’ and ‘ugly’

A counter-terrorism expert who has instructed police officers and the U.S. military on security tactics has joined the chorus of critics complaining that the mega-bollards in front of the new Long Island Rail Road terminal are “overkill,” and “excessive and ugly.”

Lionel Rawlins, a former Marine and criminology professor, took a moment from his consulting duties in Afghanistan to give The Brooklyn Paper his opinion on the tomb-like bollards at the new station at Hanson Place and Flatbush Avenue.

“I have been in counter-terrorism for a long time and have never seen such monstrosity — anywhere,” he said.

Posted by eric at 9:42 AM

March 3, 2010

In the mailbag: A vanquished clubhouse pol speaks, plus letters about horses, BIDs and Bruce Ratner

The Brooklyn Paper, Letters to the Editor

Insecurity

To the editor,

We should all thank you for your recent push for openness from the Empire State Development Corporation regarding security measures at the Atlantic Yards project (“State’s Yards terror plan: There’s nothing to see here!” Feb. 26-March 6).

Above all, thank you for finally publicizing that Mayor Bloomberg and the NYPD have singled out sports venues as prime terrorist targets. Unfortunately, after six years of the mainstream media avoiding serious discussion about post–9-11 security, it probably doesn’t much matter and well just have to live with whatever is decided or ignored.

Still, it does seem that Gov. Paterson and the ESDC are clearly asleep at the wheel.
...

Alan Rosner, Prospect Heights

link

Posted by eric at 9:11 PM

February 25, 2010

Brooklyn Paper FOIL request on arena security generates one (redacted) email exchange from ESDC; that day, the setbacks issue was in the news

Atlantic Yards Report

In an article headlined Deadly silence? Officials have had one e-mail exchange over Yards security, the Brooklyn Paper looked into the Empire State Development Corporation's unlikely claim that "its officials have had just one e-mail exchange over security outside the proposed 18,000-seat arena."

And the one document the newspaper did receive was an 11/13/07 exchange of two email messages, with all text redacted.
...

What was on their mind?

Could they have been discussing my post that day, headlined State secret? ESDC stonewalls on arena setbacks, but graphics hint building's near street?

I noted that the ESDC was unwilling to offer some basic information: how far would the arena be from the street?

I pointed out that, despite the arguments for secrecy, there was a difference between security measures and architectural plans that show the distance from a building to the street, information that eventually would be disclosed.

And, I noted, the ESDC or the developer could have put the setbacks issue to rest, but they didn't. It was just a few days later that we learned that the situation in Brooklyn was much like that in Newark, where police had begun closing the streets bordering the new Prudential Center arena.

link

Posted by eric at 10:46 AM

February 24, 2010

Deadly silence? Officials have had one e-mail exchange over Yards security

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

We're feeling safer already.

Is it possible that state officials have had just a single e-mail exchange regarding securing the outside of the Barclays Center arena in the heart of Brooklyn?

It seems unlikely — given 9-11, given the seven years since the project’s unveiling, given the so-called War on Terror, and given that this year, the Long Island Rail Road admitted that it ringed its new terminal across the street with an oversized anti-terror perimeter because they are necessary “in this day and age.”

Yet the Empire State Development Corporation claims that its officials have exchanged just one e-mail over security outside the 18,000-seat arena.

The Brooklyn Paper received the e-mail — with all nine lines of text fully redacted, by the way — in response to a “Freedom of Information Law” request seeking “any and all internal documents pertaining to exterior security designs at the Barclays Center.”
...

ESDC spokesman Warner Johnston confirmed that the lone e-mail exchange was indeed all the internal communications regarding security measures at the Barclays Center.

The request for information stemmed from the controversy over the bollards at the new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Flatbush Avenue and Hanson Place, which would serve the sports fans attending Brooklyn Nets games at the Barclays Center, should it ever be built.

The tomb-like bollards — which not only exceeded NYPD counter-terrorism standards, but have been decried as ugly by urban planners — raised the question of whether similar measures would be taken at the Barclays Center.

Apparently, the ESDC wants residents to believe that it has given that question almost no consideration.

article

Posted by eric at 10:03 AM

January 27, 2010

Atlantic Yards YES! State-of-the-art Transit Security Measures NO!!

While the MTA apparently had enough money to defer an $80 million payment from Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner for the Vanderbilt Yard over 22 years, it doesn't seem to have the cash to implement anti-terror security measures intended to keep subway and bus passengers safe.

The New York Times, M.T.A. Short on Security System Cash

After the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pledged to enact state-of-the-art security measures throughout the New York City transit system, widely considered a potential target for terrorism.

But many elements of the program, including the installation of digital surveillance cameras and motion detectors, have yet to be completed, and the authority no longer has enough money to finish them, according to a report released Tuesday by the state comptroller’s office.

“The M.T.A. is struggling to bring the security of its system into the 21st century,” the comptroller, Thomas P. DiNapoli, said in a statement. “The project is taking too long, costing too much, and there is no end in sight.”

Has DiNapoli bothered to take a look at the massive waste of money otherwise known as "Atlantic Yards?" Of course not.

Norman Seabrook, an authority board member and chairman of its safety and security committee, said he was worried that layoffs and service cuts could jeopardize customers’ safety. “We don’t have enough manpower to cover the system,” he said. “We’re not going to be able to respond properly.”

Mr. Seabrook didn't bother to show up for the vote at which the MTA's board overwhelmingly approved a sweetened sweetheart deal for Bruce Ratner.

NoLandGrab: "If you see something, say something" — unless the crime benefits Forest City Ratner.

Related coverage...

2nd Ave. Sagas, Subway safety suffering, says DiNapoli

As part of his ongoing series of progress reports into the MTA’s attempts at beefing up its security, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has released his most scathing indictment of the transit agency so far. A new report, released yesterday, says that the MTA is years behind implementing its planned post-9/11 security upgrades and may very well run out of money before completing the project.
...

Still, the MTA plans to spend what little money it has left on incremental upgrades and has defended its efforts in a statement. “Ensuring that Bruce Ratner's basketball arena gets built the safety and security of our customers continues to be the MTA’s top priority...."

Posted by eric at 1:04 PM

January 26, 2010

Revealed! LIRR bollards are bigger than they need to be!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Gersh Kuntzman

BollardSizeBrooklynPaper.jpg

The controversial, tomb-like bollards around the new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Atlantic and Flatbush avenues — which were supposedly installed at the behest of the police — actually exceed NYPD counter-terrorism standards.

The department’s 2009 report, “Engineering Security: Protective Design for High-Risk Buildings,” advises that bollards “measure between 30 and 36 inches in height” and be spaced 48 inches apart.

But the granite-covered sarcophagi in front of the LIRR’s newly built Atlantic Terminal are 50 to 52 inches high — and they are far bulkier than even the most-rigid barricades in the NYPD handbook. And in some places, they are about 36 inches apart.
...

This week, the LIRR did not answer questions about why the agency would install bollards that greatly exceed the NYPD standards that [LIRR President Helena] Williams cited.

The strongest bollard cited in the NYPD security report is classified by the State Department as K-12, capable of stopping a 15,000-pound truck going 50 miles per hour. Pictures of K-12 barriers downloaded from the Web sites of bollard manufacturers show that such strength can be had without nearly as much bulk as the LIRR is deploying at Atlantic Terminal.
...
BollardsSingapore.jpg

“There’s just something so absurd about it,” said Aaron Naparstek of Streetsblog, who opposes the massive barricade. “They’ve nearly made the train station impenetrable to their own customers. They’ve literally turned our community’s public space into something that looks like a tomb.”
...

The LIRR’s decision to ring a new building with a previously unannounced security perimeter led The Brooklyn Paper to file a Freedom of Information Law request with the Empire State Development Corporation for information about what the agency is planning at the proposed Barclays Center, the basketball arena across Atlantic Avenue from the LIRR terminal.

Current renderings show a thin line of bollards, but, as the Long Island Rail Road proved this year, plans are sometimes altered without informing the public.

So far, the agency has denied The Paper’s request.

article

Posted by eric at 11:16 AM

January 14, 2010

Editor’s coffin comments make some readers sick

The Brooklyn Papers, Letters to the Editor

One reader took issue with Gersh Kuntzman's analogy comparing the huge sarcophagus-like bollards outside of the new entrance to the Atlantic Terminal to coffins.

Such an attitude is astounding, particularly in light of the so-called aborted Christmas Day airplane terror attack.

Kuntzman’s rant is childish whining at best; irresponsible journalism at worst.

The Atlantic Avenue station was a target of a bomb plot in 1997; the perpetrators admitted the attraction was its position as a major transportation hub.

And this was the world before 9-11.

— Alexander Goldstein, Brooklyn Heights

NoLandGrab: Which is why Atlantic Yards watchdogs have long thought that developer Bruce Ratner's assertion that a new arena would not require bollards to be childish and irresponsible and that a Terrorism and Security assessment should be part of the public review process.

And speaking of watchdogs, the main Atlantic Yards security watchdog himself chimes in...

For the last six years, local electeds, community groups and professionals have been raising the issue that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner claims that no special security measures are required for his basketball arena. This is counter to what both Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly publicly acknowledge.

This is the so-called real world, the one that resulted in the bollards that Kuntzman so rightfully dislikes. Pretending it’s otherwise is what gets us the after-the-fact imposition of the 21st-century medievalism he deplores.

— Alan Rosner

link to the full letters

Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

January 6, 2010

Public Security in Brooklyn: A Systemic Failure of Common Sense

The Huffington Post
by Alan Rosner and Daniel Goldstein

Has New York State Governor David Paterson thought at all about the potential security nightmare posed by the planned Atlantic Yards basketball arena?

Still, blight and eminent domain abuse are not the only issues that make Atlantic Yards the Governor's headache...there is also the matter of public security. None of these issues were addressed in the Governor's State of the State Address today, but none will go away without his attention.

In the aftermath of the failed suicide bomb attack on a jet liner over Detroit, worldwide security arrangements were immediately thrown into turmoil. Institutions jumped into action, supported by elected and unelected officials alike. By way of example, Governor Paterson added his name in support of controversial body scan technology at airports, saying "...that for the time being, we're just going to have to live with some very inconvenient security measures.... It's the only way to guarantee that an airplane with 300 passengers will reach its destination."

For Brooklyn residents, flying or grounded, there is a question as to where our Governor has been on the issue of Bruce Ratner building an 18,000 seat basketball arena that both Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly call a potential terrorist target.

Should the Atlantic Yards arena get built and Governor Paterson get elected in his own right, will his words of comfort to Brooklyn be that shutting down lanes on Flatbush and Atlantic avenues is something "we're just going to have to live with."
...

What he needs do is direct his own State Office of Homeland Security to conduct a full study once complete plans are made available but before irreversible construction starts. Right now the only security plan that exists for the arena is a five-inch curb and some cameras to take pictures with.
...

Bottom line, what Brooklyn community groups really fear, and have for years now, is not an actual terrorist event here in the borough, but what happens when institutions wake up and decide they have to impose security measures where none had ever been planned. Before that happens we need adult leadership from our elected officials that doesn't pretend - as the ESDC did in court - that it would not be "reasonable" to consider terrorism when planning a sports venue next to an existing, previously targeted transportation hub. Governor Paterson should make sure that this time our predictions prove incorrect, by doing the right thing.

article

Posted by eric at 3:25 PM

MYTHS & BARRICADES: Grand opening of the Atlantic Terminal entrance

AtlanticTerminalComp.jpg It took the Metro photographer's wide-angle lens to get a clear shot of the façade of the new Atlantic Terminal entrance, which the photo from the Brooklyn Paper shows is defended by a barricade of granite coffins that were deemed necessary by the MTA, even though they add a touch of hostility to Brooklyn's newest public space.

Meanwhile, the MTA is doing its best to sell the entrance as the gateway to Atlantic Yards.

TransitBlogger.com, New LIRR Atlantic Terminal Pavilion Opens

From the MTA press release:

Work on the project, begun in 2002, was done in two phases in order to coordinate improvements with MTA New York City Transit work on their subway facilities and a private developer, Forest City Ratner.
...
The new Atlantic Terminal building marks an early milestone in the overall effort to transform this area of Brooklyn. A recent court decision cleared the way for a new sports center that is to be the new home of the Nets basketball team. Additional residential and commercial buildings also are planned nearby.

NoLandGrab: To call this a milestone related to the new arena is folly. The Terminal project was started in 2002, Atlantic Yards was announced in 2003.

The Brooklyn Paper, Pols say ‘All aboard’ at new LIRR gateway

According to security experts at the NYPD, bollards would not be necessary at Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, though details have not been released to the public. In light of the sarcophagus-like bollards at the new Atlantic Terminal entrance, the public should be skeptical:

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams agreed with James that the bollards are unattractive, but said that they are necessary “in this day and age.”

“We worked with the NYPD and the MTA police, who assess the risks and tell us what kind of security we need,” she said. “Do these bollards lack elegance? Yes. But they are necessary.”

NoLandGrab: Interesting that "in this day and age," the MTA head acknowledges the necessity of increased security, though these measures do not need to be identified in the formal assessment of megaprojects like Atlantic Yards.

AP, via NJ.com, Brooklyn has new transit terminal near Atlantic Yards project that will host N.J. Nets

Here's a fascinating bit of revisionist history:

The neighboring 22-acre Atlantic Yards project would include a new arena for the New Jersey Nets. The pavilion would better accommodate a surge in riders for the arena.

NoLandGrab: The planning of the new terminal did not take into account a new arena and surge in ridership.

MetroNY, Riders hail new Atlantic pavilion

City Councilmember Letitia James combats the revisionist myth:

“This area has been scheduled for renovations for years,” said James. “This has nothing to do with the possibility of that project that will overwhelm us.”

Posted by lumi at 6:46 AM

December 7, 2009

NYPD, 2007: no bollards around arena; Goldman Sachs, 2009: bollards needed

Atlantic Yards Report

In November 2007, faced with public concerns about security procedures at the Atlantic Yards arena, just 20 feet from the street (the same distance that led to the closing of streets in Newark), a New York Police Department spokesman said the department doesn’t foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena, or the installation of bollards.

Now, as noted in the the Barclays Center Arena Preliminary Official Statement (prepared by Goldman Sachs), the "Urban Experience" (aka urban plaza) would include bollards.

Eric McClure of NoLandGrab puts it all together, noting that models of the Barclays Center include no such security measures and showing photos of the adjacent Atlantic Terminal entrance, newly constructed, with--yes--bollards.

It's another example of the lack of transparency so frequently part of the Atlantic Yards story.

link

Additional coverage...

Brit in Brooklyn, "Egyptian starchitect used at the Atlantic Terminal?"

AtlanticTerminalSarcophagi5.jpg

Click here for more photos.

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

September 23, 2009

Stadiums, hotels attract 'terrorist interest,' feds say

CNN

The Feds may think that sports venues are of interest to terrorists, but the Empire State Development Corporation doesn't; therefore, it's not worth gauging the risks to Bruce Ratner and Mikhail Prokhorov's new Nets arena?

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI have issued security bulletins to raise awareness regarding "terrorist interest" in attacking sports and entertainment venues as well as luxury hotels.

The bulletins, which were sent to law enforcement Monday, said that authorities did not know of any credible or specific terrorist plots to attack U.S. stadiums, arenas or luxury hotels.

However, it said that terrorist groups such as al Qaeda view crowded stadiums and arenas as potential targets. It said hotels are also attractive targets for terrorists.

article

Posted by lumi at 7:49 PM

September 21, 2009

More evidence that a terrorist attack might actually be a "reasonable worst-case scenario"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Empire State Development Corporation in 2006 said security concerns did not require an examination in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS):
Emergency scenarios such as a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the World Trade Center attack, a biological or chemical attack, or a bomb are not considered a reasonable worst-case scenario and are therefore outside of the scope of the EIS.

More than a few people pointed me to coverage reporting that a man being questioned in an FBI probe of an alleged terrorist plot had researched baseball and football stadiums.

Add to that the New York Police Department's (likely) classification of a sports facility like the planned Atlantic Yards arena in the High Tier of buildings that present exceptional threat, vulnerability, and impact characteristics.

article

Posted by eric at 11:23 PM

Report: NYC Sports Stadiums, Fashion Venues Researched by Man Eyed in Terror Investigation

Fox News

Investigators found research on New York City sports stadiums and sites related to the city's Fashion Week events on the computer of a man being questioned in an FBI probe of an alleged terrorist plot, ABC News reports.

Authorities have made few public comments about the progress of their investigation, but there have been numerous reports that Najibullah Zazi has admitted to ties to Al Qaeda while claiming he was not central to the suspected terror cell under investigation.

Zazi had been cooperating with authorities and was interviewed several time this week by investigators, but on Saturday, he apparently didn't report for a fourth day of FBI questioning. His attorney has said the reports of a confession to terror ties were untrue.

article

Related coverage...

ABC News, FBI Arrests Three Men in Terror Plot that Targeted New York

Computer Shows NYC Research

A computer belonging to Zazi showed he had researched baseball and football stadiums and sites used in the recent Fashion Week event in New York City, law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com. While officials say they do not know the targets of the alleged plot, the contents of Zazi's computer are considered a valuable insight into what he might have been planning.

The officials said text messages sent by Zazi suggest the plot was nearing the attack phase. One message said the "wedding cake is ready," which authorities say may have been code to indicate the attack was ready. Al Qaeda operatives have frequently used references to weddings to disguise planned terror attacks.

NoLandGrab: Fortunately, fans someday attending games at the yet-unbuilt Barclays Center arena won't have to fear for their safety, since the Empire State Development Corporation doesn't consider a terrorist attack a "reasonable worst-case scenario" — more evidence that a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is absolutely necessary.

Posted by eric at 10:13 AM

September 16, 2009

Court Street Cinema Fire, Again

Brownstoner

Forest City's Court Street Cinema was the scene of a fire for the second time in six weeks.

UnitedArtistsFire.jpg

The UA Cinema on Court Street in Brooklyn Heights had a small fire incident on Saturday that left none injured. According to the Brooklyn Heights Blog, a popcorn machine was the cause of the fire, but the sprinkler system kept it from getting out of control. The incident did fill the theater with smoke and force everyone in the theater to evacuate. Almost the exact same sequence of events occurred last month—a small fire caused by a faulty popcorn machine. Perhaps it's time for UA Cinema to invest in some new popcorn machines?

link

NoLandGrab: OK, Bruce Ratner can't pop popcorn in his theater without starting a fire, and we're counting on him to keep crowds of 18,000 people safe in a building that the NYPD would surely classify as a High Tier security risk? The city's decision to cut back on its promise of heightened security measures at Goldman Sachs' new lower-Manhattan HQ is sure to add fuel to the, ahem, fire.

NY Post, City to 'unsafe' Sachs: Pay for protection

Goldman Sachs, the wealthiest bank on Wall Street, is locked in a bitter battle with city and state officials over the number of cops available to patrol its gleaming new world headquarters at Ground Zero.

The bank is close to completing its $2.4 billion, 43-story skyscraper on Vesey Street in Battery Park City and says it will be ready to move in by the end of this year.

But the big move could be delayed as the city and state scale back an expensive security agreement with the bank. The squabble is dealing yet another blow to the redevelopment of Ground Zero -- and possibly putting taxpayers on the hook for $320 million if the Goldman-government accord collapses.
...

One key incentive was the promise to provide Goldman with a much higher level of security than usually given to a Wall Street firm. Under the terms of the contract, the city pledged manpower, and the state was in charge of security infrastructure such as blockades, surveillance equipment and guard stations.

But now the city has told Goldman it will scale back the number of cops -- pointing to budget woes and arguing that the higher levels are not yet necessary, given the long delays in opening office buildings at the World Trade Center site.

Sources also said the state is so far behind in its infrastructure plans that the NYPD would be unable to use the number of cops outlined in the deal, even if it had them to spare.

NLG: Don't worry, we're sure the security experts at Forest City will protect us if the city and state won't. Butter on your popcorn?

Posted by eric at 8:00 PM

August 21, 2009

Atlantic Yards Watch

Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Alan Rosner

Prospect Heights resident Alan Rosner, who co-authored a White Paper on Atlantic Yards terrorism and security issues [PDF], expands on testimony he gave at the July 29th ESDC hearing on the project's Modified General Project Plan.

It is time to thank Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for finally issuing a report that for the first time, in the clearest way, states the city can no longer support Atlantic Yards.

This report, “Engineering Security: Protective Design for High Risk Buildings,” at last provides the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which oversees the Atlantic Yards project, with both criteria and a method for determining which of the city’s endless potential targets are in the very highest risk category.

Using standards available to anyone, both the Atlantic Yards (AY) Arena and Office Tower rank as high-risk terrorist targets, while the adjacent Atlantic Ave. Station has been a known target since the failed suicide-bombing attempt in August 1997. With three high-value targets all collected in one convenient, easy to reach location, AY, as portrayed in the ESDC’s Modified General Project Plan (MGPP), will immediately become one of the city’s foremost targets.

article

Posted by eric at 10:26 AM

July 13, 2009

NYPD's new warnings about high-risk buildings bolster argument for additional look at Atlantic Yards security

Atlantic Yards Report

So, how close would the revised Atlantic Yards arena be from the street?

We don't know, nor do we know whether buffer zones are being designed into the facility. Nor do we know what the facility would look like, since Forest City Ratner says that designs that have emerged from new architects Ellerbe Becket are not final. (The rendering at right certainly puts the arena close to the street.)

But these questions have grown in importance, especially because the New York Police Department (NYPD) on July 1 released a new guide to security for high-risk buildings, a category that likely includes the arena and could include the flagship officer tower (Building 1) still planned.

As Alan Rosner, co-author of July 2005 White Paper on terrorism and security issues regarding Atlantic Yards, commented, "They have done more with this single publication than the five-year community and local elected officials' effort to get the ESDC [Empire State Development Corporation] to take this issue seriously. The timing couldn't be better."

article

Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM

February 4, 2009

Mr. Frank’s Arena Costs So Much Because of Security

AtlanticTerminalStores.jpg Gowanus Lounge holds to its prediction:

The Daily News has figured out via a source why the cost of Frank Gehry’s Atlantic Yards arena shot up to $950 million: the cost of making the glass bulletproof. (We would have thought bomb proof, but whatever.)
...
As we’ve been predicting, we see an ugly $500 milliion concrete box. Think Atlantic Terminal Mall, but as an arena.

link

Posted by lumi at 5:29 AM

New Finance Review for Atlantic Yards Would Be Prudent

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

THREE AND A HALF YEARS AGO, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn released a white paper calling attention to terrorism and security concerns for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards arena and high-rise megadevelopment plan.

Just this week, the Daily News reports that the price tag of bulletproof glass put the construction cost of the arena out of reach.

Now the Atlantic Yards opposition group says "a new review of the project's financing would be prudent. Especially in this new Era of Responsibility."

link

Posted by lumi at 5:01 AM

February 2, 2009

Atlantic Yards Security: What did they know, and when did they know it?

Revisiting the Atlantic Yards security timeline

When the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods and several elected officials held a news conference on November 29, 2007 questioning security plans for the proposed Atlantic Yards arena, Forest City Ratner reacted with indignation.

BBenderState-NY1.jpg

Neighborhood residents and their representatives alike were concerned by the recent news that Newark police officials were ordering the closure of streets adjacent to that city's new Prudential Center arena before, during and after games, because the Newark arena was set back just 25 feet from those streets. Forest City had quietly revealed to The New York Times just a few days earlier that the Barclays Center would lie even closer than that — just 20 feet — from Brooklyn's hyper-busy Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues.

Forest City, of course, was quick to put their public relations machine in motion, telling the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that their security consultant had spent thousands of hours working on safety plans and had met five times with NYPD counter-terrorism officials. NYPD spokesman John Kelly told the Eagle that Forest City had done "everything we have asked" and that they didn't anticipate any need for street closures, sidewalk widening or bollards.

Local elected officials and activists were unconvinced, however, calling for an independent review of those alleged security plans. No one, of course, was asking that security blueprints be made public, as Forest City would have had us believe, but rather that elected officials representing thousands of constituents in the immediate area be given a briefing on the security measures being planned. Or that the public be told, generally, how the arena would be secured — for example, "yes, it's going to be just 20 feet from the street, without any bollards to prevent a truck from plowing directly into the glass wall of the arena, but that glass has been safety-tested and everything will be fine." They refused to give us that much.

Then today, we learn from the Daily News that such blast-proof glass for the planned arena would cost an astronomical $625 per square foot, likely making it prohibitively expensive. And we learn a little bit more about the security timeline:

The Police Department, the New York State Office of Homeland Security and Forest City Ratner met to discuss security at the arena in early 2008, a Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed.

Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that the five alleged meetings between Forest City and the NYPD prior to the November 2007 release of the true arena setbacks didn't happen (though the Homeland Security spokesperson makes no mention of earlier meetings), but it does call into question how thorough any of the prior security review might really have been. If, as Forest City spokesperson Bruce Bender then told the Eagle, "our security plan has been vetted and approved by the NYPD and the best anti-terrorism experts in the city," had the Department of Homeland Security, the ultimate arbiters of what is and isn't safe, not already been consulted? Did Forest City not already know at that point that bomb-proofing the glass would potentially make the arena, as designed, too expensive to build? Did they already know when they were getting indignant with security-meddlers that a glass-walled arena would have to be scrapped in favor of Marty Markowitz's "brownstone Brooklyn" architecture?

As is all too frequently the case with the Atlantic Yards project, too much is left unexplained, despite Forest City Ratner's claim that:

“When it comes to sharing information with the public and governmental bodies, there’s no such thing as too much, as far as we are concerned."

Sure.

Posted by eric at 11:34 AM

Daily News explains leap in arena costs based on security issue

Atlantic Yards Report

In December, I questioned why the planned Atlantic Yards arena had jumped from $637.2 million to $950 million, wondering if the cost had been goosed to increase the amount of tax-exempt bonds, whether the whole project had increased drastically in cost, or whether the original figure in the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) documents was off.

After all, the rapid escalation of the cost of the arena significantly outpaced local inflation in construction costs.

Today, the Daily News has an answer: security.

article

Posted by eric at 11:27 AM

Atlantic Yards arena security scare: Special glass alone would cost $625 per sq. foot

NY Daily News
by Jotham Sederstrom

The stratospheric cost of protecting the Atlantic Yards from terrorist attacks could be the death knell for architect Frank Gehry's flashy NBA basketball arena, the Daily News has learned.

The bulletproof glass facade proposed for the glitzy arena will cost a mind-blowing $625 per square foot, a source familiar with the designs told The News.

"I think the owners clearly didn't have their financing tied down for this project, and that's going to be the biggest hurdle," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity about the sky-high prices associated with securing the 850,000-square-foot arena against terrorism.

"With the security concerns at the arena, there's not much you can do to make it that much cheaper," added the source.
...

Sources close to the project said the cost of reinforcing the arena's thick glass with a ballistic-resistant glaze shocked even Gehry's own designers.
...

The Police Department, the New York State Office of Homeland Security and Forest City Ratner met to discuss security at the arena in early 2008, a Homeland Security spokeswoman confirmed.

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco declined to discuss security matters at the project, but a source close to the developer said security and other matters have made the arena too expensive to build.

"Security is one component of the cost of the arena, but by no means the most significant," said the source. "There are a whole host of reasons why the current design is expensive, including the size, the signature look and the materials. It would be very difficult to fund this arena in this economic environment."

article

Posted by eric at 11:07 AM

August 12, 2008

Police Want Tight Security Zone at Ground Zero

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli

GroundZeroSecurityMap.jpg

Surprise! The NYPD is ordering even tighter security measures at the World Trade Center (they had already ordered 75-foot setbacks for the Freedom Tower and numerous other safeguards in February), but we're still waiting for that independent security study for Atlantic Yards requested by eight Brooklyn elected officials nearly a year ago.

Planners seeking to rebuild the World Trade Center have always envisioned that the 16-acre site would have a vibrant streetscape with distinctive buildings, shops and cultural institutions lining a newly restored street grid. From the destruction of Sept. 11, 2001, a new neighborhood teeming with life would be born.

But now, the Police Department’s latest security proposal entails heavy restrictions.

According to a 36-page presentation given by top-ranking police officials in recent months, the entire area would be placed within a security zone, in which only specially screened taxis, limousines and cars would be allowed through “sally ports,” or barriers staffed by police officers, constructed at each of five entry points.
...

Landlords, company executives, public officials and some urban planners acknowledged the need for security at ground zero, but worried that the procedures would undermine the effort to reweave the trade center site into the city’s fabric. They fear that the proposed traffic restrictions could create tie-ups in a congested neighborhood and discourage corporate tenants from renting space, or shoppers from visiting the stores in the area.

article

NoLandGrab: The implementation of similar security measures at the confluence of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues would render the intersection impassable. But the ESDC and Forest City Ratner insist we needn't worry about it.

Ah. We feel better already.

Posted by eric at 5:36 PM

July 23, 2008

Higher-resolution arena renderings suggest how close glass would be to the street

Atlantic Yards Report

AYB1.jpg

The 2008 edition of the New York Post's Brooklyn Tomorrow advertorial reproduces Frank Gehry renderings already in the Image Gallery on the Atlantic Yards web site, but the higher-resolution versions in the publication offer a clear reminder: the arena's glass walls would be quite close to the street, raising security concerns.

Remember, last fall, only after much prodding by the New York Times, Forest City Ratner acknowledged that the arena would be just 20 feet from the street at Flatbush Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, the same distance as in Newark, where officials have decided to close streets during arena events.
...

Alan Rosner, who wrote a July 2005 White Paper, titled Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards. High Rise and Arena Development Project (PDF), has continued to follow the issue.

"The renderings for the new AY arena & towers do point to a lack of meaningful setbacks from both Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues," Rosner told me. "FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) the GSA [General Services Administration] & DoD [Department of Defense] all indicate that the single most effective mitigation for explosions is distance from the blast. By any standard 20 feet is too close to the curb."

article

NoLandGrab: Elected officials who called for a comprehensive security review last November are still waiting for a meaningful response from the developer and state agencies.

Posted by eric at 8:55 AM

April 18, 2008

TRASHY WTC SECURITY

HOMELESS GUY FINDS KEY PLAN IN A CAN
New York Post
by Jeremy Olshan and Kevin Fasick

OK, we know that the World Trade Center and Atlantic Yards are two different projects, but if blueprints detailing the thickness of walls and the location of support beams in the Freedom Tower turn up in a SoHo trash can, should we really be taking Forest City Ratner spokesperson Bruce Bender's word that Atlantic Yards arena security plans are A-OK?

Two sets of confidential blueprints for the planned Freedom Tower, which is set to rise at Ground Zero, were carelessly dumped in a city garbage can on the corner of West Houston and Sullivan streets, The Post has learned.

Experts said the detailed, floor-by-floor schematics contain enough detail for terrorists to plot a devastating attack.

"Secure Document - Confidential," warns the title page on each of the two copies of the 150-page schematic that a homeless, recovering drug addict discovered in the public trash can.
...

As shocking as such dangerous lapses in security are, experts contend that they are bound to happen again.

"Outrageous security breeches like this amplify how vulnerable New Yorkers are," said Nicholas Casale, former head of security for the MTA.

article

NoLandGrab: We're reminded that the numerous elected officials who demanded an independent security study of the Atlantic Yards project nearly six months ago have been completely ignored by the ESDC and law-enforcement officials.

And is it too much to add that Mike Fleming, the homeless gentleman who found the Freedom Tower plans, wouldn't be eligible for Atlantic Yards affordable housing — while a family earning $113,000 would?

Posted by eric at 3:21 PM

April 10, 2008

NYPD Letter Blasts Security Lapses At Penn Station

WNBC

In a letter, NYC Police Commish Kelly "voiced frustration" toward Madison Square Garden stakeholders for failure to implement security measures:

Kelly's frustration was directed at the owners of Madison Square Garden, the chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, the head of the MTA and the president of Amtrak. Kelly did praise the MTA for securing millions of dollars to build the permanent security perimeter, a perimeter that would be complete with bollards and delta barriers able to stop truck bombs.

Currently, the streets between West 31st and 34th streets between 7th and 8th avenues either have no barricades or are surrounded with dirt-filled planters.

article

NoLandGrab: Meanwhile, as reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, regarding Bruce Ratner's plans to build an arena over one of the area's largest transit hubs:

NYPD spokesman John Kelly said, “The department has met numerous times with the builders, who have been very cooperative and have done everything we have asked.” He also said the department doesn’t foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena or the instillation of bollards.

No bollards or closures, and an arena just 20 feet from the street: have the NYPD and Bruce Ratner overlooked something?

Posted by lumi at 4:58 AM

March 8, 2008

i generally have nice photographic encounters

wardstack3.08.jpg

not another f*cking blog!

yesterday, while shooting the demolition of the Ward Bread Bakery smokestack (which, along with its water tower, are my Prospect Heights neighborhood icons), i was approached by an employee of Gateway Demolition, the contractor doing the demolition of the Ward Bakery. he talked about his new optic gear which enabled him to tell the brand of cigarette one of the workers was smoking on his break atop the smokestack, i talked about my trying to capture some of the history of the 'hood before his company dismantles it, and then we got into a short but interesting discussion about the history of the Ward Bakery.

he was pretty knowledgeable about Wards, how it was built in 1905 (or is it 1910? 1911?) and was where sliced bread was introduced. i asked him what is was like inside the old bakery. he told me about ovens large enough that one could drive a truck around inside of them and how the oven floors were on a giant rotisserie to evenly bake thousands of loaves at a time. he told me that it's very cold inside right now, like an icebox, with lots of peeling paint and beautiful light.

link

Posted by amy at 10:15 AM

March 5, 2008

March Madness: Homeland Security Issues Warning on Sports Arenas

A report issued by the FBI and Dept. of Homeland Security warning of the "potential threats against sporting events" is another opportunity for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn to remind Brooklynites and the politicians who represent them that Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation have not disclosed any potential impact of the planned arena and in fact, "have said that no road or lane closings will take place, and that there aren't even any plans to place bollards around the arena."

link

Read more about the FBI and DHS joint report at ABCNews.com

Posted by lumi at 5:36 AM

March 2, 2008

At MetroTech, no photography; what about AY?

MetroTechRules.JPG

Atlantic Yards Report

Given the hassles that videographer Katherin McInnis and photographer Tracy Collins recently experienced at the Atlantic Yards footprint, the experience I had at Forest City Ratner's MetroTech Center two weeks back was small beans, but still worth noting.

While I was walking around the Commons, shooting a few photos, a couple of security guards told me (nicely) that photography was not permitted. I had already taken the photos I wanted, and they didn't ask for the camera.

Only later did I see and photograph the rules. (Click to enlarge.) While photography isn't explicitly banned, it apparently qualifies as "unauthorized activity."

That raises a question. Should Atlantic Yards open space be built--the eight acres would appear in the increasingly distant second phase of the project--would photography be permitted?

link
NoLandGrab photographers were also harassed at Metrotech back when this fight began and we wanted to illustrate the stark difference between public parks and "open space." Maybe we should have just photographed the security guardpost...

Posted by amy at 10:28 AM

February 28, 2008

Pros fear new towers at World Trade Center site have security gaps

graf_wtc.jpg

NY Daily News
by Greg B. Smith and Douglas Feiden

This eye-opening article from last Sunday's Daily News must've slipped by us like the Atlantic Yards security plan slipped by the NYPD.

Law enforcement officials have major concerns about security weaknesses in the planned World Trade Center complex, a Daily News investigation has found.

The potential problems expressed to the Port Authority and others involved in the most high-profile development project in New York City history include:

  • A row of three mostly glass towers positioned too closely to city streets, increasing their vulnerability to attack.

  • Difficulties in inspecting some 2,000 delivery trucks and sightseeing buses that will enter or leave the site daily.

  • A vehicle security center that hasn't been fully designed and relies on vehicle inspection technology that hasn't even been developed yet.

Asked about weaknesses uncovered by The News in the plans for rebuilding Ground Zero, Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said, "The NYPD has been in talks with the Port Authority, but we don't disclose any information about possible security vulnerabilities for obvious reasons."

article

NoLandGrab: What is it about Atlantic Yards that makes what appears to be basically the exact same design different from the World Trade Center? Has WTC developer Larry Silverstein been tardy with his donations to Shelly Silver and the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee?

Posted by eric at 10:56 PM

February 24, 2008

Photoblogger Stopped from Taking Snow Pics on Ninth St. Bridge

9thst2.08.jpg

The Gowanus Lounge

This is a photo of snow on the Gowanus from photographer Joe Holmes that we found while looking at snow pics on flickr. It's a great pic, but what's even more s interesting about it, though, is what is in the description. Mr. Holmes, whose photoblog Joe's NYC is very highly regarded, writes: "...taken seconds before I was told that photography is prohibited on the 9th Street bridge because of 9-11 concerns. Those crafty terrorists -- blow up the 9th St bridge, and they'll bring this country to its knees." We have taken thousands of pics from all the bridges over the Gowanus and haven't realized we were endangering national security. Thank God he wasn't taking photos of the Atlantic Yards site.

link

Posted by amy at 1:42 PM

December 17, 2007

"Not the crime but the cover-up": Why the arena security issue is (sort of) like Watergate

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder explains that it's hard to believe the Empire State Development Corporation and Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner's security assurances, when they are acting so cagey. But what could the State's quasi governmental corporation and the mega developer be hiding, and so what?

One of the cliches that emerged from the Watergate investigation was "it´s not the crime, it´s the cover-up," a reference to how a third-rate burglary unraveled the presidential administration.

That's a useful, though inexact, way to look at the still-simmering issue of Atlantic Yards arena security. No, there's no crime. But there was something of a cover-up, and the city and state agencies overseeing the issue, as well as Forest City Ratner, have not been sufficiently forthcoming.

That's not to say that the belatedly released information that the Atlantic Yards arena would be (in part) as close to the street as the new Prudential Center in Newark will unravel the project. Or that Forest City Ratner is not taking security seriously. The city has vouched for FCR's preparations, but it's unclear whether the state has done much review.

However, the pattern of behavior by the latter three entities doesn´t inspire much confidence. Rather than answer the basic question--how far would the arena be from the street?--the developer and state stonewalled for weeks.

And that unwillingness to come clean means that, whatever the further explanations, more scrutiny is needed.

According to Oder, a recent statement by the ESDC suggests four possible scenarios:

  • street closures are on the table, despite denials
  • the Brooklyn arena, despite the presence of copious glass, is designed to a greater level of security than the Newark arena
  • the Brooklyn arena is being redesigned
  • New York officials genuinely believe Newark overreacted but are too diplomatic to say so.

Any of these scenarios deserves greater scrutiny from the outside, even if some of the details may not be subject to public disclosure,

article

Posted by lumi at 5:32 AM

December 14, 2007

Garden security has Brooklyn pols asking Yards questions

The Brooklyn Paper
By Mike McLaughlin

Brooklyn Paper follows up on the issue of security concerns at Atlantic Yards:

State officials tried to defuse tension about security at Atlantic Yards, saying that the NYPD won’t need to close streets around the Nets arena because police don’t close roadways next to Madison Square Garden on game nights.

The only problem with the promise is that it’s not entirely true: the NYPD did shut a roadway used as a taxi stand and pedestrian walkway between the Garden and Penn Plaza after 9-11 for security reasons.

While it’s not exactly Eighth Avenue, that closure did raise some eyebrows.
...
Not only that, Brooklyn elected officials said that the comparison made by ESDC President Avi Schick between Madison Square Garden and the proposed Atlantic Yards arena is like comparing basketballs and hockey pucks because MSG is not glass-walled, does not sit in a residential neighborhood and is more than 20 feet from busy avenues as the Atlantic Yards arena will be.

article

NoLandGrab: Local elected officals appear to be very serious about lingering security issues; meanwhile, the Empire State Development Corporation doesn't.

Posted by lumi at 5:18 AM

Radio reaction

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor

To the editor,

I recently heard your editor on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show and want to thank him for stating the community’s concerns about Atlantic Yards in a balanced way and for putting the security issue in context.

Opponents’ supposedly “unreasonable” concerns turned real in Newark, where, two weeks before that city’s hockey arena opened, people were informed that two local streets would have to be closed every home game.

It’s no wonder Brooklynites fear that two weeks before our basketball arena opens, the NYPD will announce that there will be lanes closings on Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, or rerouted traffic, or vehicle inspections.

Given the size and location of Atlantic Yards, any one of these actions would cause incalculable harm to Brooklyn’s economy, traffic movement, air quality and public health by gridlocking the intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush and Fourth avenues. The effects would extend far beyond the area studied in the state’s narrowly focused environmental study.

The only thing that’s unreasonable is to pretend there is no problem.

Alan Rosner, Prospect Heights

Posted by lumi at 4:31 AM

December 12, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Queens Crap, Doctoroff reflects
"Crappy" reacts to Deputy Dan's love of ULURP (NYC's local land use review process):

ULURP is a joke, Dan. Deals are "done" before they even get to the community board level. That's probably why you're such a big fan of it.

not another f*cking blog, dysfunctional

"Atlantic Yards" is among the litany of reasons the MTA is dysfunctional:

then there's the fact that they've practically given away the rights to develop over the Vanderbilt Yard in Prospect Heights Brooklyn for the proposed Forest City Ratner Atlantic Yards project. that's 100's of millions of dollars that could have been used to avoid a fare hike. unfortunately, Atlantic Yards isn't the first (and, i fear) not the last time that the MTA did not get fair market value for some very rare and valuable real estate. it appears that the MTA is trying to atone for their Atlantic Yards sins by handling the development over the Hudson Yards in Manhattan in what seems to be a rational, functional and considerate fashion. only time will tell, though.

Curbed, Change of Heart

Actually, what [Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff] says is "If it happened again, and the state were to ask" he'd encourage it not to do an end run around the city.

NoLandGrab: In hindsight, running the ball straight up the middle would have given Ratner more pr cover and probably shaved a few months off the process.

The Knickerblogger, Passenger Ships Didn't Have Lifeboats Before the Titanic, Why Have Them Now?
"Knickerblogger" considers the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) brush-off of calls to deal with security concerns for Bruce Ratner's arena plan, and the agency's screwed up logic.

NoLandGrab: Though we're pretty sure that passenger ships DID have life boats before the Titanic, according to the ESDC's thinking, drivers don't really need that extra stuff like seatbelts and airbags.

Posted by lumi at 5:02 AM

December 10, 2007

ESDC gives elected officials the brush-off on arena security

Atlantic Yards Report

Local politicians get a "Dear Colleague" letter in return for their efforts:

The eight elected officials who asked the state for an independent study of Atlantic Yards security got a cordial brush-off from the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), which sent a brief November 30 letter (right, click to enlarge) reiterating that, just as Madison Square Garden operates without street closures, so could the Atlantic Yards arena.

That doesn't quite answer the issue, as I explained, because the parts of MSG closest to the street are mostly concrete, not glass, as planned for Atlantic Yards and the trigger for street closings around the Prudential Center in Newark, and an interior street next to MSG was closed after the 9/11 attacks.

article

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

December 7, 2007

Yards not safe

The Brooklyn Paper

Brooklyn Heights resident and Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse producer Steve DeSeve weighs in on the Atlantic Yards security issue:

To the editor,

Gore Vidal once called the U.S.A. the “United States of Amnesia,” and the way the governor’s office, the Empire State Development Corporation and Forest City Ratner are treating the terror threat at the proposed Atlantic Yards, it seem like they have forgotten that a lot of Brooklynites lived through 9-11 (“Pols want Atlantic Yards security review,” Nov. 10).

Is Forest City Ratner depending on our forgetting that the World Trade Center had its own world-class security firm certifying its safety? The NYPD also says it is satisfied with the “secret plan” to prevent terrorism at Atlantic Yards. We are also, apparently, supposed to forget that the same NYPD regarded the twin towers as safe.

link (scroll down)

Posted by lumi at 1:45 PM

Vallone Asks for Atlantic Yards Security Info

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Will the Chairman of the City Council's Public Safety Committee be included among the "appropriate law enforcement agencies” on Forest City Ratner security consultant Jeffrey Venter's list?

DDDB weighs in on the Brooklyn Downtown Star's coverage of Atlantic Yards security concerns.

article

Posted by lumi at 9:08 AM

FOIL-ed! State says it can’t talk security

The Brooklyn Paper
by Mike McLaughlin

What's the point of a Freedom of Information Law if the information is not forthcoming — and it's the developer's consultant who makes the call?

In October, The Brooklyn Paper filed a Freedom of Information Law request for all documents related to security planning at Atlantic Yards by the Empire State Development Corporation.

Last week, we finally got our long-sought documents. So what did they amount to?

A 10-page affidavit from a Forest City Ratner security consultant that explained why all the plans must be kept classified.

article

NoLandGrab: Let us once again point out that an "independent" security study is not one produced by a consultant hired by Forest City Ratner, a point not lost on Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

Could Security Concerns Sink Nets Arena?

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Shane Miller

PCSecurity-BDS.jpg

[City Councilwoman Letitia] James said that she has spoken with both Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., who chairs the City Council's Public Safety Committee, and Councilman John Liu, who chairs the Transportation Committee, requesting that both hold hearings on the possible impacts of the Atlantic Yards proposal.

Vallone has sent a letter to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly requesting information on any security studies that have been completed on the project, as well as any anti-terror safeguards that have been included in plans for the arena.

"Given the proposed Atlantic Yards arena's close proximity to the streets, its use of large glass structures and its connection to the city's third-largest transit hub," wrote Vallone, "its potential as a terrorist target is a legitimate concern." Vallone cited a study similar to one conducted for the Freedom Tower in his letter.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:10 AM

December 6, 2007

Would AY arena be more like Newark or MSG? Brian Lehrer Show raises the issue

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder provides an overview of yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show for those of us who couldn't tune in. Guest host David Cruz moderated a discussion between Gersh Kuntzman of the Brooklyn Paper and Errol Louis of the New York Daily News. The discussion contained more than its fair share of Atlantic Yards misconceptions, particularly on the part of Mr. Louis:

Here's Louis's take on the security issue, and Oder's response:

EL: My sense of it is... the best way to put it, fishing for striped bass, so to speak. Those of your listeners who remember the way the Westway project was killed back in the 1980s was by pushing for what in the end looked like a subsidiary issue, which was whether the Army Corps of Engineers had done an adequate environmental review of the impact of that multi-billion dollar project on the striped bass and the snail darter in the Hudson River. That actually was sufficient for a judge to issue an injunction and kill it. I think the opposition’s tactic at Atlantic Yards has always been three words: delay, delay, delay. They've kind of moved from one issue to another, and they've settled most recently on the security issue that may or may not have any substance to it.

Actually, the security issue, well beyond the question of arena setbacks, was first raised in a 7/22/05 White Paper, and the security issue was raised earlier this year in the pending challenge to the state's environmental review.

And Louis didn't acknowledge that the security issue has drawn concern from elected officials like City Council Members Bill de Blasio and David Yassky and Assemblymembers Hakeem Jeffries and Joan Millman, who are not exactly opponents.

Louis elaborates further regarding the exact location of the arena, and Oder comments:

EL: What I’ve heard is a number that is either plucked out of thin air or taken from what recently happened in Newark, but somehow the plans that show part of the arena being 20 feet from Atlantic Avenue and 20 feet from Flatbush Avenue is by the opponents now being declared as inadequate, susceptible to terrorist attacks.... I think it’s a red herring, or a striped bass...

It hasn't been plucked out of thin air; it was revealed belatedly by the developer two weeks ago.

Oder ends his post by addressing another problematic Louis remark:

EL: There's a lot in the project.... There are people who like it a lot because of basketball's status as a secular religion in Brooklyn. There are people like me who don't care about professional sports in general and probably would never go to a game, but like things such as the fact that it will create some jobs and it'll create a lot of housing. There's something there for everybody, and that's kind of the whole point of the project.

Well, a lot fewer jobs than originally promised. It may seem like nitpicking to point this out, but that locution--the project "will create"--obscures the mix of private and public and tax-advantaged support needed.

NoLandGrab: Maybe one of these days, The Brian Lehrer Show could host a discussion that would include both Errol Louis and Norman Oder. That would be great radio.

article

Posted by steve at 7:19 AM

Foes' latest plan seems fishy

NY Daily News

Columnist Errol Louis says WE can't be trusted, but meanwhile, journalists had to pull teeth to obtain top-secret info from Forest City Ratner, like how far from the curb Ratner plans on building the glass-walled arena:

Opponents of two mega-projects - Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the Columbia University expansion in West Harlem - have lately taken to arguing that the deals should be halted because potentially dire security concerns haven't been thoroughly examined.

stripedbass.jpg

The public should take these complaints with a grain of salt. Every sane person wants to make sure new development is done safely - but project opponents, desperate to kill these projects by any means, are hardly the kind of trustworthy and neutral authorities to decide what's safe and what's not.

Meanwhile, hearty saltwater anglers are still fishing the fall run:

It's not surprising that die-hard opponents are searching for a modern version of the striped bass. But I strongly suspect they are fishing in empty waters.

article

Posted by lumi at 6:07 AM

December 4, 2007

Brooklyn’s Neverending Story: The Debate over Atlantic Yards Continues with Concerns Over Security

Nets Fan in New York sends naysayers back to "Pleasantville" and takes his best shot at politicians and residents who have called for an independent security analysis for Atlantic Yards:

The Hearst Corporation’s new 46-story headquarters in Manhattan boasts over one mile of glass office fronts. Yet, this building, with its reinforced blast-resistant glass, is being praised as a new “green” wonder with its use of natural light and sensor-control lighting.

It’s all a matter of how you spin it. Positive preventive security checks and proper planning are important, but using talks of terrorism to create a heightened sense of panic among residents does not encourage healthy discussion. Are we supposed to embrace a no building buildings policy in the 21st century? This recent argument is as transparent as Gehry’s glass-clad arena. With this neverending wave of debate, the AY development project remains in a perpetual state of suspension. With any luck, the Nets will move into their new arena by 2020.

article

NoLandGrab: This still doesn't answer the question of how the NYPD proposes to protect the arena block, which includes four high-rise towers, without having to close streets, or, as an NYPD spokesperson claimed, not even having to use bollards (unless the high-rise towers ARE BOLLARDS???).

Posted by lumi at 4:32 AM

December 3, 2007

The best reason for not airing security concerns...

...because they know that they're real.

At last week's press conference, 33rd District City Councilman David Yassky, produced the best reason for keeping security concerns of Atlantic Yards under wraps:

SecurityPC-Yassky.jpg

"I suspect that when the security thread is pulled, that may well unravel a whole ball of yarn that is holding this project together. We saw this with some of the Ground Zero buildings, we've seen this with the Goldman Sachs building Downtown — people didn't want to air the security concerns because they knew they were real.

"When they were aired they had to make serious, serious changes. I think that when the security concerns get a real look here, people are gonna see that they have to make changes and they don't want to. That is why we have not seen any security plan come to light.

"They will have two choices. They will either have to push the building back significantly and make serious changes in their plan. Or they will have to start talking about streets, and I will say this, if they start talking about street closures, they will see unyeilding opposition. This project will already have such a disasterious impact on traffic, if they start doing that.. they will meet, I believe, a tidal wave of opposition

"I think that may be the reason that they may have been so quiet, so mum, on the security issue. The community, the public, is owed an answer and owed a serious genuine security plan, we are entitled to that."

link to video

Posted by lumi at 7:30 PM

December 2, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

We're still catching up in the wake of last week's news about Forrest "City" Taylor's appointment as the ombudsman, the latest call by local politicians for an independent security analysis, and Dolly Williams's $4,000 fine for using her position on the City Planning Commission to further her own business interests.

Here's what they were saying in the blogosphere:

Brownstoner, Another Call for an Atlantic Yards Security Study

AY opponents are asking for more transparency from the state and Forest City, according to an article in the Daily News: "The [Empire State Development Corp.] and Forest City Ratner are asking us to trust that they have shared a security plan with the NYPD, and that the NYPD is fine with it," said CBN’s Eric McClure. Forest City won’t disclose details of Atlantic Yards-related security studies it’s funded, citing the issue’s sensitivity, but points out that a consulting firm has reviewed AY security plans and found them comprehensive. Atlantic Yards Report, meanwhile, notes that Council Members David Yassky and Bill De Blasio—both of whom have generally supported the project and who are running for Comptroller and Borough President, respectively—came out yesterday to also call for increased scrutiny of the arena’s security. “The ball game’s not over,” said De Blasio, noting that unless Forest City behaves with more transparency, “the future of their project is in danger.”

The Gowanus Lounge, Call for Independent Atlantic Yards Security Study Gets Louder

A broad-based group that includes local officials supporting the Atlantic Yards development renewed their call for an independent study of security at the planned arena at Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues. Citing a setback that is only 20 feet in some places, the officials said a full public airing of issues is needed. Some of the strongest criticism actually came from arena supporters. “If they start talking about street closings, they will have unyielding opposition,” said Council Member David Yassky. "They will have two choices—push the building back, or close streets.”

The Gowanus Lounge, BREAKING: Underground Railroad House Spared

The Underground Railroad House at 227 Duffield Street will be spared from eminent domain and the wrecking ball.
...
The building is on the site of the proposed Willoughby Square Park atop a big underground garage that will serve some of the massive developments planned downtown. The city was planning a commemorative of the Underground Railroad. Could the shift indicate that after enduring bad publicity in what became a national story, the city might be planning a museum that would include an actual Underground Railroad structure?

The Real Deal, Planning commission member fined for Atlantic Yards vote

City Planning Commission member Dolly Williams was fined $4,000 yesterday for casting a vote three years ago in support of the Atlantic Yards project. Williams allegedly owned property in the neighborhood. The announcement by the Conflicts of Interest Board came as Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz appointed Shirley McRae, Community Board 2 chairwoman, as Williams' prospective successor. Following the implication, Williams recused herself from voting on a rezoning plan for Gowanus, where she also has a financial stake.

Moving On, 2 offers
One blogger has an offer in on a nearby brownstone. Though she fears for her car, she is looking forward to gentrification spurred by Atlantic Yards.

This Recording, In Which This Area Is Incapable of Building Anything Interesting

A review of the region's new sports venues gives a favorable nod to Ratnerville:

The most interesting of the new stadium concepts was developed by tycoon Bruce Ratner, in a project conceived by Frank Gehry and titled Atlantic Yards. There has been moderate community opposition to this proposal. It’s tougher to build stadiums in cities because of community opposition and other lobbying interests. It’s also important to build them there so that these Babel Towers doesn’t cower in New Jersey, some place where we don’t care if God sees us.

The interior of the arena, a small part of the overhaul pacakge, is an exciting contemporary area, suited for concerts and other cultural events, expansive enough to keep prices down for the people of the area. It is the total opposite of the only New York arena stadium not being totally rethought, Madison Square Garden.

NoLandGrab: "People of the area?" Could one be more condescending, while trying not to be?

Posted by lumi at 7:50 PM

Arena Setback Should Be a Major Setback

Queens Ledger

Now with news that the arena will be closer than an NFL first down to two of Brooklyn’s busiest thoroughfares, it’s time for the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), FCR, the governor, the mayor, the NYPD, and whoever else has been involved in heretofore undisclosed security discussions to be more forthcoming with their plans.

The ESDC continues to assert that security talks are ongoing with the NYPD, but that it would be a breach to divulge any specifics. It’s amazing that the same security concerns didn’t prohibit the public from learning that the most high-profile building being planning in the world - the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero - was, in fact, too close to the street.

And how close was the Freedom Tower when first proposed? Twenty feet.

article

Posted by amy at 12:06 PM

Video: City Hall Ratner Arena Press Conference

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Video coverage of the full November 29 press conference sponsored by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN). The press conference was headlined:

CBN, Elected Officials Renew Demand for Independent Atlantic Yards Security Study
Revelation of Scant 20-Foot Setbacks from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues Raises Specter of Street Closings or Unacceptable Risks

The speakers at the City Hall press conference included Councilman Bill de Blasio, Councilman David Yassky, Assemblywoman Joan Millman, Councilwoman Letitia James, and CBN Steering Committee Member Eric McClure.

Freddy's Brooklyn Roundhouse has included the full press conference in a special report called "The Glass Target: New Revelations about the Atlantic Yards Terror Threat." It is embedded here and can be found on YouTube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtHYHDSeoqE

link
NoLandGrab: The press conference will be shown in full Tuesday, 8pm on BCAT1 and Thursday, 8:30pm in Manhattan on MNN.

Posted by amy at 11:35 AM

November 30, 2007

Atlantic Yards Security Issue Also About Trust

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Reporter Sarah Ryley provides some details from Forest City Ratner's campaign to convince reporters and the public that they have the security and terrorism angle all covered.

BruceWeTrust.gif However, for the public, without the benefit of a third-party analysis, it's also an issue of trust.

A spokesman for Forest City sent along an affidavit from its independent security consultant, Jeffrey Venter of Ducibella Venter & Santore, briefly describing 3,300 hours of work on a security plan for the project, including five meetings with the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau. Aside from that, it’s been said that the company began considering security issues as early as 2003, and continues to do so today. In contrast, the Newark arena apparently underwent little-to-no security review, given that police decided to shut down streets only two weeks before it was scheduled to open. Since security is found not just in distance from the street, but also in structure, that leads one to wonder what other vulnerabilities afflict the Newark arena.

NYPD spokesman John Kelly said, “The department has met numerous times with the builders, who have been very cooperative and have done everything we have asked.” He also said the department doesn’t foresee any street or land closures, sidewalk widening around the arena or the instillation of bollards. And Bruce Bender of Forest City was more pointed in his response, in a prepared statement: “We do not play around with public safety and neither should politicians who have no experience or background in security issues. Our security plan has been vetted and approved by the NYPD and the best anti-terrorism experts in the city. At some point, a base level of common sense needs to be followed and those people who do not have any security experience need to let the NYPD and the security experts do their jobs.”
...
“Part of our distrust is based upon our four years of experience with this project,” said [NYC Councilwoman] James. “They’ve misrepresented the truth, [the project has been] shrouded in secrecy, and there’s been a lot of misinformation. My distrust is based on my frame of reference.” For those who haven’t been following the project for the past four years, the battles have been ugly, to an epic scale (in the urban planning world, at least, no fatalities so far). And James is accurate that Ratner and the state Development Corporation have not exactly been forthcoming about many details regarding the project, including the amount of taxpayer money that would be used.

article

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

Opponents slam plan to build Atlantic Yards arena near busy intersection

New York Daily News
by Jotham Sederstrom

Coverage of yesterday's press conference on City Hall steps called by the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods.

Critics of the Atlantic Yards project renewed their call Thursday for an independent security review in light of news that a portion of a planned basketball arena would be built just 20 feet from Brooklyn's busiest intersection.

The potential security risk at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Aves. is within reach of terrorists hellbent on crashing into the glass-walled arena, opponents charged.

"The [Empire State Development Corp.] and Forest City Ratner are asking us to trust that they have shared a security plan with the NYPD, and that the NYPD is fine with it," said Eric McClure, member of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, an Atlantic Yards watchdog group.

Security has always been an issue for Yards critics, but it was only recently that a spokesman for Forest City Ratner revealed just how close arena walls would be to the street.

article

No Land Grab: This article does a good job of summarizing security concerns for the proposed Nets arena. It is inaccurate, though, to characterize the participants of the press conference as "opponents". Attendees included David Yassky and Bill de Blasio who are frequent critics, but not necessarily opponents of the project.

Posted by steve at 6:43 AM

Community Groups Call For Independent Study Of Atlantic Yards Project

BBenderState-NY1.jpg NY1

Several elected officials and community groups gathered Thursday to demand an independent study for the Atlantic Yards project.
...
“The public needs to know why Brooklyn is different than Newark,” said Eric McClure of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods. “Why is a 20-foot setback in Brooklyn okay, while a 25-foot setback in Newark is not safe?"

article/video (dialup/broadband)

NoLandGrab: Since we don't have our hands on a political-speak code book, we're not exactly sure what Bruce Bender's statement is supposed to mean, but we think that it roughly translates to "F U."

Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

GL Analysis: In Ten Years, Will They Ask "How Did This Happen?"

The Gowanus Lounge

The ESDC has stated (through the Environmental Impact Statement for Atlantic Yards) that a terrorist attack is not a "reasonable worst-case scenario." Gowanus Lounge takes the step to consider what the ESDC, apparently, cannot.

Whether one supports or opposes the Atlantic Yards project, an arena that ignores the threat of truck bombs and other terrorist attacks is far more than a planning blunder: it is a calculated and almost unthinkable act of public negligence. Bromides from city government that the security threat is under control and that the issue simply can't be discussed are unacceptable and dishonest. The Atlantic Yards security issues need to be dealt with publicly before a single shovel of Brooklyn soil is moved.

...

What if nothing is done? Our fear is that in ten or fifteen years, when maniacal mass murderers espousing a cause no one has even contemplated yet detonate trucks loaded with explosives outside of the Atlantic Yards arena during a basketball game or concert, there will be terrible loss of life. It will be followed by one of those wretched "How did this happen?" moments that inevitably follow catastrophes that could have been prevented. There will be an investigation and a blue ribbon commission. In Albany, there will be a legislative panel that points the fingers of blame at Gov. Pataki and at Gov. Spitzer. In Washington, Representatives and Senators will demand national security standards for arenas so there will "never be another Brooklyn." Then, the arena will be rebuilt, set back further from the street, and become the "Barclays Memorial Arena" or the "Freedom Center." More children will lose fathers and mothers, millions of hearts will be broken and billions of tears will be shed.

The risk of a terrorist attack on Atlantic Yards demands impartial studies, public hearings and corrective action before thousands of people are slaughtered in the interest of expediency. To do otherwise would be criminal negligence on the part of every public official that will have a role in a future tragedy.

article

Posted by steve at 6:05 AM

November 29, 2007

PRESS RELEASE: CBN, Elected Officials Renew Demand for Independent Atlantic Yards Security Study

Revelation of Scant 20-Foot Setbacks from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues Raises Specter of Street Closings or Unacceptable Risks.

What Makes Brooklyn Different from Newark?

New York, NY –The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc. (CBN) and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assembly Members Joan Millman and Jim Brennan, and City Council Members Letitia James, Bill de Blasio and David Yassky, today renewed their demands for an independent security study of the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project, in light of new revelations that its planned basketball arena would be situated a mere 20 feet from both Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.

In an interview in the November 24th edition of The New York Times, a spokesperson for Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) acknowledged publicly for the first time that portions of the glass-walled arena, six-story glass-walled “Urban Room” and adjacent glass-walled residential and commercial buildings would lie just 20 feet from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, two of the boroughs most heavily trafficked thoroughfares. Police officials in Newark recently ordered the closing of two streets adjacent to that city’s new Prudential Center arena during events out of concern that a vehicular terrorist bomb could inflict significant damage upon the arena and its occupants. The streets ordered closed in Newark lie more than 20 feet from the arena’s walls.

Eight Brooklyn elected officials, including all those named above along with Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries and State Senator Eric Adams, and all of whom represent areas in and around the planned Atlantic Yards site, sent a formal request for an independent security study to Governor Spitzer and Mayor Bloomberg on October 29th. That request and similar calls by CBN and other community groups have thus far gone unanswered.

FCRC, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) – the project’s sponsor – and the New York Police Department (NYPD) have said that police security officials have reviewed the plans for Atlantic Yards and are satisfied with their security provisions. But given the recent developments in Newark, Brooklyn elected officials and CBN have questioned why the NYPD believes the smaller setbacks planned in Brooklyn would be less of a security risk than the larger setbacks around Newark’s Prudential Center.

“Logic dictates that Newark police officials were apprised of the Prudential Center’s design well before they made the decision to close streets,” said Eric McClure, a member of CBN’s Steering Committee. “We can’t have the same after-the-fact scenario play out with Atlantic Yards. Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues are already two of Brooklyn’s most-congested roadways, and they’re already frequently gridlocked. Closing them during arena events – even closing a single lane – would be an unmitigated disaster. We need to know why the NYPD believes Brooklyn’s situation is different than Newark’s.”

The same elected officials who have called for an independent security study, along with CBN and other groups, have also repeatedly raised concerns about the effect that the planned Atlantic Yards project could have on traffic in Brooklyn. Newark-style street or lane closings could so negatively affect traffic conditions as to make the intersection of Atlantic, Flatbush and 4th Avenues – widely acknowledged as Brooklyn’s worst – virtually impassable during arena events.

CBN first raised the issue of security when it submitted comments during the scoping hearing for the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement in October, 2005. The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) does not mandate the study of security impacts, but the law governing SEQRA was last amended in June, 2000, well before the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy, in announcing the Prudential Center street closings, told the Newark Star-Ledger “you can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world.”

CBN again asked that the state conduct a security study in August, 2006, in extensive comments submitted at the public hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The ESDC rejected that request, and claimed that the threat of a terror attack, including a vehicular bomb, at the proposed site of Atlantic Yards, was not a “reasonable worst-case scenario,” and therefore required no disclosures to the public regarding any aspect of security planning. This assertion is presently under legal review in New York State Supreme Court, and CBN believes ESDC’s position is without merit, since the Atlantic Terminal subway station, which lies beneath a portion of the proposed project site, was the target of a thwarted terrorist bomb attack in 1997.

The Newark police department’s decision to close streets after the Prudential Center was approved and built, along with the NYPD-mandated redesign of already-approved plans for the World Trade Center’s Freedom Tower, which increased building setbacks from 25 feet to 90 feet, are clear evidence that design and security are closely interconnected. The Prudential Center illustrates how security problems can radically alter the surrounding environment, while the Freedom Tower presents an example of significant changes to building design. Both scenarios appear possible in Brooklyn.

“The public must have the benefit of an independent and transparent inquiry into the design of the Atlantic Yards project and its arena, and the management techniques that will be put in place to ensure security at the site,” said Therese Urban, co-Chair of CBN. “Street closures would wreak havoc, and turning the arena into a bunker as a security ‘compromise’ would cheat Brooklynites of the ‘world-class’ design we’ve been promised.”

The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, Inc. is a coalition of community groups formed to provide a community voice in the scoping and review of the Environmental Impact process as it pertains to the development of the Vanderbilt Yards in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. All block associations, church, community and business groups regardless of their position toward any proposed development are invited to join CBN and are encouraged to attend and participate in CBN's bi-monthly meetings. A calendar and all CBN documents can be found at http://www.cbrooklynneighborhoods.homestead.com

Contact: Eric McClure
718-369-9771 / 646-522-2589

Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods
201 Dekalb Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205
cbrooklynneighborhoods@hotmail.com http://www.cbrooklynneighborhoods.homestead.com

Posted by lumi at 8:48 PM

November 28, 2007

CBN Media Advisory: Thursday, Noon Press Conference at City Hall

November 28, 2007
Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN)

WHO: State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assembly Member Joan Millman, a representative of State Assembly Member Jim Brennan, City Council Members Letitia James, David Yassky and Bill de Blasio, State Senator Eric Adams and State Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries pending, representatives of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods

WHAT: Press Conference on Atlantic Yards Security Issues / Planned Arena Setbacks

WHERE: City Hall Steps, New York, NY

WHEN: Thursday, November 29th, 12:00 PM

Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods and Elected Officials
Renew Call for Independent Security Study of Atlantic Yards

Press Conference: Thursday, November 29th, 12:00 PM

Brooklyn, NY — On Thursday, November 29th at 12:00 p.m., State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, State Assembly Member Joan Millman, a representative of State Assembly Member Jim Brennan, City Council Members Letitia James, David Yassky and Bill de Blasio, and representatives of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) will hold a press conference on the steps of City Hall to renew a call for an independent security study of the planned Brooklyn Atlantic Yards project, and especially its basketball arena, in light of this week’s revelation that portions of the glass-walled arena and other adjacent glass-walled buildings would lie a mere 20 feet from heavily trafficked Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. Newark police officials recently mandated the closing of streets adjacent to that city’s new Prudential Center during arena events; those streets are approximately 25 feet from that arena’s walls.

A spokesperson for Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner last week admitted publicly for the first time that portions of the planned "Barclays Center" would sit back just 20 feet from two of Brooklyn’s busiest thoroughfares. Council Members James, Yassky and de Blasio, Senators Montgomery and Eric Adams, and Assemblymembers Brennan, Millman and Hakeem Jeffries formally requested an independent security study on October 29th, and questioned what would make the planned Brooklyn arena more secure than Newark’s arena. Street closings – or even lane closings – in Brooklyn similar to those instituted in Newark would create a nightmare of traffic and gridlock more than 230 days a year.

Posted by lumi at 5:10 PM

November 27, 2007

Eagle Twofer: Real Estate Round-Up, November 26, 2007

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Sarah Ryley
link

City Council hopes to expand oversight on massive NYC building boom:

The City Council is proposing a new task force that would examine the impact that large, private development projects have on surrounding infrastructure, included those sponsored by the city and state, reported The New York Sun. Headed by Council Members Daniel Garodnick and Letitia James, a chief opponent of the Atlantic Yards arena and high rise project, the task force would examine impacts on traffic, schools and energy.

So the glass-walled arena and high-rises are only 20 ft. from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, what's the big deal?

The New York Times confirmed that the Atlantic Yards arena, renamed the Barclays Center, would be set back from Atlantic and Flatbush avenues only 20 feet in most places. The issue, brought up by opponents of the project as early as 2005 and the subject of a lawsuit, reemerged after Newark police decided two weeks before the grand opening of the Prudential Center arena to close adjacent streets during events because it was deemed too close at 25 feet.

Posted by lumi at 6:01 AM

November 26, 2007

DDDB PRESS RELEASE:
Major Security Flaw Revealed in Ratner's Atlantic Yards Plan
Arena Setback Only 20 Feet From Congested Brooklyn Avenues

Newark Arena Requires Street Closings - How is Brooklyn Different?
ESDC, NYPD, Mayor and Governor Not Saying

BROOKLYN, NY — Developer Forest City Ratner's planned basketball arena would be set back a mere 20 feet from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, two of Brooklyn's main arteries, which intersect at what is already a heavily congested choke-point abutting the proposed arena site. Security experts agree that substantial setbacks for facilities like an arena are required to protect against vehicular bombs and other terror attacks. Twenty feet is not substantial.

This major security flaw in Ratner's Atlantic Yards development plan in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, was revealed by the developer, after weeks of stonewalling, over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in a New York Times article.

In mid-October, just two weeks before the grand opening of Newark's Prudential Center arena, that city's police department mandated that at least two streets adjacent to the new arena would be closed during events as a necessary precaution against terrorist attacks. Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy told the Newark Star-Ledger, "you can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world. So we're playing catch-up and taking measures to make sure it's safe."

The Newark arena is set back about 25 feet from its nearest abutting streets. Forest City Ratner's arena would be set back only 20 feet, in most places, from busy avenues. But unlike in Newark, the NYPD says that street closures will not be necessary in Brooklyn; according to the Times, the NYPD "found that the arena was safe and streets need not be closed on game days."

"It is a major security flaw to have a mere twenty foot distance between Ratner's planned arena and congested Brooklyn avenues. What makes the Brooklyn arena's proximity to streets different from the Newark arena that it will not require street closings? This is the key question that Governor Spitzer and his Homeland Security Deputy Michael Balboni, Mayor Bloomberg, ESDC President/CEO Avi Schick and NYPD Commissioner Kelly all need to answer," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "One can assume that during the Newark arena planning process, Newark's police officials ‘found that the arena was safe and streets need not be closed'—just like the NYPD is saying now—only to decide at the last minute that streets did indeed need to be closed. There is every reason to think that scenario can occur in Brooklyn; the problem is that Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues cannot be closed for 230 events per year."

Twenty-six community groups, led by DDDB, filed a lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court in April 2007 (that suit is still pending) in which they asserted, in part, that the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) violated state environmental review laws by failing to consider the potential security issues and impacts from a terrorist attack on the proposed Atlantic Yards project in its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). During the environmental review of the project, the three jurisdictional community boards, community groups, elected officials and individuals commented on the need for the ESDC to study security and terrorism. The ESDC—the state agency overseeing the project—responded that: "Emergency scenarios such as a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the World Trade Center attack, a biological or chemical attack, or a bomb are not considered a reasonable worst-case scenario and are therefore outside of the scope of the EIS." Tellingly, the 20-foot setback distance was never mentioned in the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement or General Project Plan which were both approved by the ESDC Board of Directors in December 2006.

"When ESDC denied that a terrorist bomb attack on the arena is a ‘reasonable worst-case scenario' worthy of study, we wonder if ESDC officials even knew that the proposed arena would only be 20 feet from the street. The attendant risks from that mere 20-foot setback present a very reasonable worst-case scenario," said DDDB Legal Director Candace Carponter. "If ESDC did know about the inadequate setback from the surrounding streets, then they have been grossly irresponsible by ignoring it. And if they did not know what the setback would be then they could not have logically determined what is or isn't a reasonable worst-case scenario worthy of study. Since the NYPD and ESDC have refused to answer anyone asking for the simple fact of setback distance, we wonder if they were even aware of the insufficient setback until it appeared in the newspaper."

For more than two years, elected officials and many community groups have been asking for a proper and comprehensive review of the Atlantic Yards project in the context of security and terrorism issues and impacts, but such a review has never been done. About one month ago, eight elected Brooklyn officials sent a letter to Governor Spitzer and Mayor Bloomberg demanding an independent security review of Atlantic Yards. The officials have yet to receive a response.

"The revelation that the arena would be only 20 feet from Atlantic and Flatbush, a fact that has clearly been hidden by Ratner and the ESDC for more than three years, presents the final evidence that the Atlantic Yards plan requires an independent security review," Goldstein said.

Atlantic Yards would be a glass-walled arena surrounded by glass-walled skyscrapers, abutting the busiest (and frequently gridlocked) intersection in Brooklyn, on top of the third-largest transportation hub in the city, which was the site of a thwarted terror attack in 1997. It would be the densest residential community in the United States, by far. Forest City Ratner projects about 230 events per year at the arena.

Renderings of the Atlantic Yards project illustrating the issues discussed above are here:
http://www.dddb.net/homeart/illustrations.pdf

More background can be found here:
What Would the Worst Case Be?
http://www.dddb.net/php/latestnews_Linked.php?id=371

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's July 2005 white paper, "Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project" can be found here:
http://www.dddb.net/php/reading/security.php

Posted by lumi at 10:52 AM

November 22, 2007

FREE TURKEYS

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! This year, we are giving out free turkeys to a few NoLandGrab All-Stars.

Turkey-Ratner.jpg The Turkey Trot...
is awarded to Bruce Ratner, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the New York Police Department for dancing around the terrorism and security issue.

The Leaky Turkey...
goes to Frank Gehry, who came up with this canard last week: "My name is Frank Gehry, and my buildings don't leak." Like, ok, at least half that sentence is true.

The Jive Turkey...
will be delivered to Eliot Spitzer's home, because today is day 325 after "day one," when "everything changes" (except in Ratnerville). One thing that actually has changed is the Governor's approval rating.

Tofurkey...
goes to the ombudsman, because he or she is not real either.

Leftover Turkey...
will be served to the folks who are working on the UNITY plan, just in case this project doesn't happen and someone is looking for a plan B.

Turducken
The red herring stuffed in a land grab, stuffed in a boondoggle, goes to the proverbial three men in a room (you know who you are).

Turkey Gravy...
will be on Vito Lopez's table this holiday, for sneakily inserting a special clause in 421(a) "reform" legislation that delivers special affordable housing subsidies to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan.

The "Gobble Gobble" Award
This year's recipient is none other than Bruce Ratner, for taking down every building he possibly can in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

Ratner's Arena Only 20 Feet from Streets

In the wake of breaking news on just how close Bruce Ratner plans on building his 18,000-seat arena to Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues (a scant 20 feet in some places), Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn calls on government officials to come clean with the public on how the NYPD plans on dealing with this major security flaw in the project's design.

Also, The New York Times screwed the pooch on this story and is now seeking to rectify the situation by breaking the news on Thanksgiving Eve on the City Room blog. It's a nice try, but Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn suggests, "because the Times got it so wrong in its original article and the actual setback distance is of such great importance, the Times must publish this news in the newspaper."

link

NoLandGrab: For years, the Grey Lady has done little to combat the notion that the paper is in its development partner Bruce Ratner's pocket — the decision to rectify its mistake on the arena security story by burying it on some blog on Thanksgiving Eve does nothing to counter this impression.

Posted by lumi at 5:03 AM

November 21, 2007

News flash: Brooklyn arena would be as close to the street as the Newark arena

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder analyzes Andy Newman's article from the Times's City Room blog.

His first beef starts with the headline, and he makes a good point — and one we totally missed:

The news surfaced this afternoon on the Times's CityRoom blog, in an article both substantial and whimsical that was marred by the oblique headline Putting the Atlantic Yards Arena in a Secure Place. (A literal reading suggests that some entity is enhancing AY security, which is not the subject of the article.)

Oder suggests that the article could have been clearer if it had more teeth, recommends that an article run in the paper, and notes that the timing of today's revelation is in sharp contrast to other NY Times Atlantic Yards exclusives.

article

Posted by lumi at 8:04 PM

Putting the Atlantic Yards Arena in a Secure Place

This piece should have run in the paper, instead of the Times's City Room blog, but despite a few more details on the distance of the setback of the arena, and what amounts to a mea culpa on reporter Andy Newman's part, the "cone of silence" persists.

Here are some excerpts, but, since the article is a must read and sort of hilarious to boot, you die-hards might want to head on over and read it in its entirety.

After some digging by Norman "The Mad Overkiller" Oder, Newman kept noodging Forest City Ratner spokesperson Loren Riegelhaupt for some real answers as to just how close the planned arena would be to Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues:

Mr. Riegelhaupt confirmed that this meant that at all points, the arena would be set back at least 20 feet from the street.

Is that to say, he was asked, that at its closest point the arena would indeed be set back 20 feet from the street, or could “at least” mean 25 feet, or 50 feet, or more?

Mr. Riegelhaupt was initially unable to answer. The problem was that the location of the arena falls under the rubric of a “security issue,” a phrase that brings a magic cone of silence crashing down onto even the most innocent-seeming inquiry. Somehow the planned location of an 18,000 seat basketball arena had become as classified a piece of antiterror information as, say, the structural vulnerabilities of a bridge.

NoLandGrab: For the record, the Times should at least run a correction in the paper and an addendum to the original article, which cited the distance at "about 75 feet back from Atlantic Avenue and about 150 feet from Flatbush Avenue."

Posted by lumi at 6:33 PM

November 16, 2007

Electeds Join in Call for Yards Security Study

The Downtown Brooklyn Star
by Shane Miller

This article covers the letter sent last week to Spitzer and Bloomberg calling for a security study for the proposed Nets arena.

Growing concern that street closures like those around the new Prudential Center arena in Newark could shut down some of Brooklyn's major thoroughfares if the Nets arena is built prompted the borough's elected officials to demand an independent security study. The study was called for in a letter sent to Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg that was signed by assembly members Joan Millman, James Brennan, and Hakim Jeffries, state senators Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery, and council members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, and David Yassky.

article

Posted by steve at 6:00 AM

November 13, 2007

State secret? ESDC stonewalls on arena setbacks, but graphics hint building's near street

Atlantic Yards Report

Bruce Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation would tell you how far the arena would be set back from Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, but to do so might undermine the war against terror?

It's a basic architectural detail that would inevitably become public, but the state agency supervising the Atlantic Yards project won't disclose how far the planned arena would be set back from the street, saying security concerns mandate confidentiality.

Meanwhile, though state documents are vague about the setbacks, graphics, though not necessarily to scale, in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) suggest some parallels to the situation that recently caused alarm in Newark, even though the arena there's a standalone box, while the Brooklyn arena would be enveloped in four towers.

Read about how last-minute revelations about the Newark arena opened up a can of worms here in Brooklyn and how the NY Times's claim that the arena would be sited "75 feet back from Atlantic Avenue and about 150 feet from Flatbush Avenue" doesn't appear to be based on any documents available to the public — or reality.

article

NoLandGrab: Seriously, if the ESDC claims that a security study isn't warranted because a terrorist attack isn't a "reasonable worst-case scenario," then why has one security expert testified on FCRC's behalf that "safety of the arena and surrounding area could be easily compromised" if security measures were disclosed?

The implication is, if they told us how bad things really are, then a worst-case scenario might be within reason.

You may have noticed that this rendering (click image to enlarge), added to the Final Environmental Impact Statement, isn't very promising in regards to current security concerns.

Posted by lumi at 5:26 AM

November 9, 2007

Pols want Atlantic Yards security review

The Brooklyn Paper
By Mike McLaughlin

On Wednesday, eight Brooklyn Democrats announced that they had sent a letter to Gov. Spitzer and Mayor Bloomberg asking for a security analysis in the wake of developments in Newark, N.J., where local cops decided — at the “eleventh hour,” the lawmakers said — to close off several streets to protect that city’s new glass-walled arena.

The Brooklyn lawmakers said they don’t want to be surprised by potentially major disturbances like street closings of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.
...
“[The security review] should be strictly independent of the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) to avoid any semblance of conflict of interest,” the letter added, referring to the state agency that is the development partner at Atlantic Yards.
...
“Our counterterrorism experts have examined the Atlantic Yards plans and they have met with those involved with its design and planned construction,” the spokesman, Paul Browne, told the New York Times. “They have been cooperative and receptive to NYPD recommendations, which did not require street closings.”

He declined to offer further details, telling the Times that the NYPD does not discuss “any vulnerabilities we’ve identified.”

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz puts his trust in Ratner (because the developer has such a great track record in the community?):

“I said this early on, and am confident that developer Forest City Ratner is taking the proper steps in working closely with the NYPD and other relevant security agencies in ensuring the project adheres to the highest standards of safety.”

article

NoLandGrab: So far, none of the spokespersons for NYPD, ESDC or Forest City Ratner have gone as far as to make the claim that “any vulnerabilities [the NYPD] identified” have actually been addressed. By not publicly discussing security issues, the implication is that these vulnerabilities remain and therefore must be preserved as state secrets.

Posted by lumi at 5:54 AM

Brooklyn Officials Push for Safety Study At Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
By Charles Maldonado

After safety concerns forced Newark officials to close streets adjacent to the new arena on game and event nights, local Brooklyn politicians renewed their request for a full security and terrorism analysis for Atlantic Yards:

“We do not want to face a similar failure of planning in relation to Atlantic Yards, a project at least as susceptible to attack as the Newark arena,” said the letter, dated Oct. 29. “The Barclays Center Arena will sit directly above the city’s third largest transportation hub, the Atlantic Avenue station, at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, two major Brooklyn thoroughfares.

The letter was signed by State Senators Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery; state Assembly Members Jim Brennan, Hakeem Jeffries and Joan Millman; and City Council Members Letitia James, David Yassky and Bill de Blasio.
...
Jeff Gordon, a representative from Spitzer’s office, said that the NYPD has reviewed and approved the plans.

“The New York Police Department has been very involved in reviewing the project and working with the developer, as they are with most large-scale developments,” Gordon said.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:18 AM

November 8, 2007

Officials demand independent arena security study; NYPD says no street closings

Atlantic Yards Report

AYR wonders where The Times got its measurements, and how accurate they might be:

Still somewhat unclear, however, remain comparisons between the Atlantic Yards arena and the Prudential Center. The Times attempted an assessment, under the headline Security Study Urged for Atlantic Yards:

Plans for the Brooklyn arena, though preliminary, seem to show it set back farther from the street than the Newark arena, the Prudential Center. The Prudential Center is about 25 feet from both Edison Place and Mulberry Street in downtown Newark, while renderings of Atlantic Yards show the arena about 75 feet back from Atlantic Avenue and about 150 feet from Flatbush Avenue.

No source of that data was provided, and it's not clear whether "seem" is based on direct information from an official source or an eyeball of renderings.

And for good measure, Norman Oder reminds the "Newspaper of Record" that even Bruce Ratner isn't sticking to the 2009-opening story anymore:

The Times reported that the arena "is scheduled to open in 2009." They didn't get the memo that explained it's impossible.

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Posted by lumi at 8:18 AM

PRESS RELEASE: Assemblyman Jim Brennan

Local Elected Officials Demand Independent Arena Security Study in Letter to Governor Spitzer and Mayor Bloomberg

Eight officials representing area of proposed “Atlantic Yards” project unify around public safety and security concerns; lack of planning cited

(Brooklyn, NY) Elected officials representing the site and surrounding areas of the proposed Atlantic Yards arena, mixed-use project sent a letter to Governor Eliot Spitzer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, demanding an independent security study for the project. The eight officials sending the letter included: Assembly Members Jim Brennan, Joan Millman, and Hakeem Jeffries, State Senators Eric Adams and Velmanette Montgomery, and City Council Members Bill de Blasio, Letitia James, and David Yassky.

Many of these same elected officials wrote a letter to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in December of 2005 requesting information on terrorism and security planning for the project. No response was received.

As proposed, Atlantic Yards consists of a glass-walled arena with a towering glass entrance (with approximately 240 arena events per year), surrounded by glass-walled towers, built to the sidewalks, over the city's third-largest transportation hub, abutting the congested intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues—one of the busiest intersections in the city.

The letter was spurred not only by the lack of response to previous letters, but also by recent relevant eleventh-hour actions at the Newark Prudential Center Arena – actions which validate previous calls for an Atlantic Yards security study. Just days before the Newark arena was set to open, the Newark Police Department announced they would close streets around the arena, citing terrorism concerns and security measures. On the decision and necessity of closing those streets, Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy told the Newark Star Ledger, “You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world.” The Atlantic Yards arena would abut two of the major thoroughfares in Brooklyn.

“We are asking for something quite reasonable- that the NYPD provide meaningful information to the public, as they have with the developer, regarding possible dangers and precautions being taken to ensure the safest arena/skyscraper complex possible, and the impacts of any security measures on the community and treasury,” said Assembly Member Jim Brennan. “We want to know how the situation in Brooklyn differs from that which has just occurred in Newark.”

“The risks are clear and the lack of information that has been shared with us is unacceptable,” said Council Member Letitia James. “As a representative of my constituents I take no comfort in this. We need a proper security study now, well before any potential construction starts.”

The letter from the eight elected officials was also sent to NYS Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni and Empire State Development Corporation President and CEO Avi Schick. The letter is attached, and will be available at: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=044.

Posted by lumi at 5:20 AM

Security Study Urged for Atlantic Yards

The NY Times
By Andy Newman

Like all-things Atlantic Yards, the powers that be claim that the project has met every standard, though details are closely guarded secrets:

A New York City police official, however, said yesterday that the Brooklyn arena would require no street closings.

“Our counterterrorism experts have examined the Atlantic Yards plans and they have met with those involved with its design and planned construction,” said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman. “They have been cooperative and receptive to N.Y.P.D. recommendations, which did not require street closings.”

Mr. Browne declined to offer further details, saying it was policy not to publicly discuss “any vulnerabilities we’ve identified.” The developer of Atlantic Yards, Forest City Ratner — a development partner in the new Midtown headquarters of The New York Times Company — said yesterday that it had been working closely with the police and other antiterrorism experts on the design of Atlantic Yards.

And once again, the Times seems to have some sort of exclusive access to info that hasn't been released to the public, because as far as we can tell, plans for the Urban Room, arena and four towers have not been revealed:

Plans for the Brooklyn arena, though preliminary, seem to show it set back farther from the street than the Newark arena, the Prudential Center. The Prudential Center is about 25 feet from both Edison Place and Mulberry Street in downtown Newark, while renderings of Atlantic Yards show the arena about 75 feet back from Atlantic Avenue and about 150 feet from Flatbush Avenue.

article

Posted by lumi at 5:11 AM

November 6, 2007

The serious street shutdowns outside the Newark arena

NewarkClosings-AYR.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder took a field trip to the Newark arena last Saturday. Here's what he found.

the two intersecting streets that lead to the main entrance are completely shut down, though emergency vehicles are allowed on both blocks and one partially accommodates some cars heading into a private parking lot.

(Photo at right of four-lane Mulberry Street looking north from Lafayette Street. A police vehicle is parked at left.)

Remember, on Oct. 10, the Newark Star-Ledger reported that city officials were planning to close, or partly close, one or two streets bordering the arena—a decision that caused some consternation, because it was made only two weeks before the arena was to open.

The Star-Ledger reported that "the so-called 'standoff' -- the distance between the building and a potential terrorist threat -- was not sufficient on Edison [Place] and Mulberry [Street]." The solution has been to use concrete "Jersey barriers," like ones used as highway dividers, on both streets.

This raised questions in Brooklyn about whether the streets around the Atlantic Yards arena would have to close, in whole or in part, to protect against potential terrorist attacks, and led to calls for a state hearing on Atlantic Yards security. So far, city and state officials, and developer Forest City Ratner have stressed their extensive security preparations, but have not answered the questions about potential street closings.

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NoLandGrab: Serious security and traffic issues aside, we're impressed that Norman Oder visited the Pru Center arena before Bruce Ratner did.

Posted by lumi at 6:07 AM

October 30, 2007

‘Dismissive’ journalism

For years, Alan Rosner, the co-author of the "2005 White Paper: Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project," has been trying to get public officials to assess the security and terrorism risk of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.

We've recently seen the consequences of ignoring these issues in Newark, but when the matter was raised again in Brooklyn, one of our weekly papers characterized the issue as "Grasping at Straws."

This past week, the Courier-Life published Rosner's letter to the editor, which takes the paper to task and spells out the questions that reporters should be asking:

It is disheartening that your recent front page article on community concerns, regarding the proximity of the Atlantic Yards (AY) basketball arena to Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, begins with these three words, “Grasping At Straws.”

In fact, this sort of dismissal of the community’s concerns has been the response of AY’s proponents for close to three years.

Even when the Ground Zero site plan was revised to shift the Freedom Tower away from West Street out of concern that a truck bomb could bring down the entire building, AY supporters quickly labeled raising similar security concerns in Brooklyn as desperate.

Nevertheless, Community Boards 2, 6 and 8, several local elected officials and dozens of community organizations all submitted such concerns regarding the implications of living in a post 9/11 world to the lead agency for Atlantic Yards, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC).

Unfortunately, even after the Madrid and London terrorist bombings, the ESDC ignored community requests to take a hard look at the public safety issues surrounding the development of a glass arena, a glass skyscraper and a glass entrance into the Atlantic Avenue Station that was the target of a thwarted suicide bombing attempt in 1997.

In fact the ESDC went so far as to declare such concerns as – their word –“unreasonable!”

Now, with the revelation that Newark did not address terrorism and so is being forced to close off streets every single time there is a hockey game, the same disregard for the substance of Brooklynites’ concerns is being exhibited. Thus the developer’s spokesperson is quoted as saying that concerns about terrorism are political, irresponsible and offensive.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the ESDC, Errol Cockfield, adds that the project has been “thoroughly reviewed by the anti-terrorism experts at the New York Police Department.”

Any confidence we might have in that statement disappears as soon as we learn that, as a former spokesperson for Newark’s project has been quoted as saying, Newark’s “homeland security director and police were involved in security planning regarding the arena.”

Your newspaper would do us all a real service if its reporters simply asked if the secret plans of the developer, the NYPD and the NYFD to keep us safe will entail any street closings – as it has in Newark – lane closings, barricades, vehicle inspections, or any other sort of disruption of traffic flow at the already near grid-locked intersections of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues.

They might also ask if the MTA was involved in coordinating their security and evacuation planning with the NYPD or NYFD since I have never heard the MTA mentioned regarding security planning.

It is insulting to your readership to unquestioningly accept the self-serving and condescending claim that all these security experts can’t tell us anything out of fear of letting the bad guys know what we are doing.

As City Councilmember Letitia James has already noted, any disruption of traffic based on anti-terrorism measures will be immediately apparent the day AY’s Barclay’s Center Arena opens. The only thing that’s being kept secret is the disruptive impact that protecting all that glass will have on our local communities.

Not surprisingly, Councilperson James’s reasonable position is supported by the Supreme Court’s refusal to accept the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s claim that they did not have to consider terrorism when issuing a license for a nuclear waste facility out of concern that doing so would reveal too much.

And finally, in a related security matter, regarding your article about Rep. Anthony Weiner getting money grants from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to help safeguard Brooklyn hospitals and yeshivas, perhaps, in light of the Newark fiasco, a reporter could ask Rep. Weiner if he could estimate how much of DHS funding might have to go towards protecting AY and the Barclay’s Center Arena.

And, further, if he thinks that such funding needs to be added to the calculation of project subsidies in any cost benefit analysis of this already heavily subsidized project.

These are just some of the many questions and issues that deserve answers. Newark is a wake up call. Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker’s belated, ad hoc response to an obvious failure by his predecessor to anticipate the possibility of terrorism reminds us how little has changed since day one of Governor Spitzer’s taking office.

Alan Rosner,

Co-author of the 2005 White Paper: Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project

Posted by lumi at 6:54 AM

October 25, 2007

Newark arena police costs--a benchmark for AY?

Atlantic Yards Report

Last week, we explained that Ratner has no incentive to redesign the Atlantic Yards project to conform to an era of increased security measures, when a plan could be implemented after the fact at the taxpayers' expense.

This week, Norman Oder explores the issue, finding clues in the Newark arena overtime costs and the Independent Budget Office projections:

In a 10/21/07 article headlined Determined to show Newark at its safest, the Star-Ledger reported that, in policing the area around the new Prudential Center opening today, the city will deploy "more than 80 cops -- roughly five times the normal number" and expects to spend about $3 million this year on police overtime.

Now Downtown Newark has a much bigger crime problem than Downtown Brooklyn and Prospect Heights, and Newark might well dial back on police presence after a while. Still, the number suggests a rough benchmark regarding costs to police the planned Atlantic Yards arena.

The New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO), in its September 2005 Fiscal Brief estimated annual overtime costs of $1.7 million for 45 Nets games.

Additional events at the arena would raise the cost, but the IBO didn't estimate that, given that "security needs and therefore the policing costs would vary widely depending on the types of events."

Naturally, Bruce Ratner's initial economic analysis, compiled by Andrew Zimbalist, "concludes that the increment in fire and police budgets would be negligible."

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NoLandGrab: If there is no reason to increase fire department services in the area, then who will be around to put out Forest City Ratner's pants, which appear to be on fire?

Posted by lumi at 10:07 AM

October 22, 2007

Security concerns "a new low" or a question of parallelism?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder examines the Brooklyn weekly media coverage of security questions for Atlantic Yards.

One Brooklyn weekly gets a "no comment" from the development company, and the other carries the boilerplate response. Can you guess which one?

But FCRC Executive Vice President Bruce Bender countered that "opponents are reaching a new low in their misguided attempts to delay a publicly approved and supported development."

One thing's for sure: the company has a plan, but they can't tell you what it is because it would no longer be a secret. The Empire State Development Corporation has stated, "that state officials would be happy to meet with community representatives. So maybe it all will be ventilated."

article

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

October 19, 2007

Tale of 2 cities: Newark arena closes key streets; Yards next?

The Brooklyn Paper
By Michael McLaughlin

Three days after Newark residents learned that two streets around that city’s new glass-walled sports arena would be sealed off on game nights, residents near the Atlantic Yards footprint called on state officials to admit that the same frustrating scenario will likely happen in the heart of Brooklyn.

The Frank Gehry–designed arena that is a part of Bruce Ratner’s $4-billion mega-project bears striking similarities to Newark’s Prudential Center — similarities that opponents seized on at Sunday’s walkathon against the project.

“The Prudential arena is a wake-up call,” said Jim Vogel of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods. “We cannot allow the security questions about the arena to continue unanswered.”

Like the Prudential Center, Gehry’s “Barclays Center” sits at a major public transportation hub. And like the future home of the New Jersey Devils, the future Brooklyn Nets arena is lined on all sides with glass — which Newark officials have concluded makes it so tempting a terror target that they’ll need to close two streets around the arena when games are being played.

If the same security protocol was put in place at Atlantic Yards, Dean Street — and parts of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, which also face the arena’s glass walls — would be closed, causing major traffic disruptions.
...
“There is a reasonable expectation on the part of the public that they be informed,” said Robert McCrie, a security management professor at John Jay College

“If the public is going to be inconvenienced, they should know, in advance, what is anticipated — and that they have an opportunity to voice their feelings.”

article

NoLandGrab: There is likely a perfectly simple explanation for why City officials and developer Bruce Ratner can't talk about security measures — any public disclosure will cost Ratner millions of dollars, and perhaps make the project financially unfeasible.

REDESIGN
On the one hand, conventional wisdom among security experts would dictate a total redesign of the arena, which at Frank Gehry's rates could run tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of dollars in design and delay costs...

TRAFFIC & THE EIS
...or, if the arena complex were not redesigned, standard security measures like street closures would significantly increase traffic, which could jeopardize the validity of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), perhaps requiring a new one. Like a redesign, a new or amended EIS could bog down the project for another year or so, costing Ratner tens of millions of dollars.

ONCE AGAIN, RATNER'S INTERESTS ARE PLACED ABOVE THE PUBLIC'S
Therefore, it's in Ratner's self-interest to build the arena first and ram additional security measures down our throats later (probably at the taxpayers' expense), at which point no one could complain, because it's unpatriotic to speak out against "security."

Posted by lumi at 9:32 AM

Newark Arena Fuels Yards Security Concerns

Brooklyn Downtown Star

YardsSEcuritypic-BDS.jpgShane Miller reports from last weekend's press conference on concerns about security measures for a new Nets arena and the shroud of secrecy:

"We want to know what security measures have been planned," said Jim Vogel of CBN. "And how will this security be funded? Who is footing the bill for the security of a private development? If it is the city's problem, then it is the city's right to review." Up until now, ESDC and FCR have revealed little about security measures for the arena, citing confidentiality. That includes refusing requests by James, who represents the area in the City Council, to review such a plan.

"They have even refused to disclose security plans that impact on your safety to an elected official chosen to represent you," she told the crowd Sunday.

article

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

October 16, 2007

This Week's Atlantic Yards Issue: Terror Risk

Gothamist

Jen Chung sums up the Atlantic Yards security issue, which may seem like the issue of the week, but as Chung notes, "DDDB has actually been worried about terror risks since last year."

article

NoLandGrab: Based upon the Gothamist
comments section, it appears the public thinks that Atlantic Yards critics are really grasping at straws and are attempting to exploit the public's fear of terrorism.

Whatever — this issue has been on the radar for the past TWO years, primarily due to the work and efforts of Prospect Heights resident Al Rosner.

July, 2005
A white paper, "Terrorism, Security and the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise and Arena Development Project," was released. It has been available for download on
NoLandGrab for the past two years.

December, 2005
A letter addressed to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, signed by local elected officials, requested that the NYPD undertake a security study of the Atlantic Yards project as it did for the Freedom Tower. This letter has remained unanswered.

July, 2006
White paper author Al Rosner issued an open letter exhorting public officials and the press to ask tough questions about "Glass-clad skyscrapers, next to a glass sports arena, above the third largest transportation hub in the city."

November, 2006
The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods Calls on Public Authorities Control Board for Terror Study (press release).

The Final Environmental Impact Statement issued by the Empire State Development Corporaton states in Chapter 24, page 235, "Emergency scenarios such as a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the World Trade Center attack, a biological or chemical attack, or a bomb are not considered a reasonable worst-case scenario and are therefore outside the scope of the EIS."

October, 2007
The announcement that Newark officals have authorized street closings for the city's arena illustrates the point that Atlantic Yards critics have been making for more than two years.

Posted by lumi at 8:43 AM

Terrorism Concerns at Atlantic Yards

WNYC Newsroom

NEW YORK, NY October 15, 2007 —Opponents of Brooklyn's planned NBA arena are urging the state to confront the risk of terrorism near the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards complex.

This, in the wake of a decision to block off streets near Newark's new arena, after the stadium was found to be too close to the street to shield it from a terror attack. Bruce Bender, executive vice president for the developer, Forest City Ratner, said they have "worked very closely with security experts on Atlantic Yards."

article

NoLandGrab: Bruce Bender's boilerplate explanation leads one to wonder what developer Forest City Ratner and the Empire State Development Corporation aren't telling the public.

Posted by lumi at 8:37 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere91.gif The Knickerblogger, Simple Questions the Big Daily Papers Never Asked:
Some reaction to the oral arguments in the appeal of the federal eminent domain case:

Why is the ESDC defending a proposal that knowingly would bring in less money than a competing project, and NOT require disenfranchising other citizens?

Why Is the state taking such a cavalier attitude towards impropriety and corruption? Isn't this a de facto endorsement of government corruption?

New Media Newsroom 2007C, Vibe and Ratner

Did anybody else notice Bruce Ratner in a photo montage in the September issue of Vibe? It was about who parties with Jay-Z. Sure, they work together, but it's hard to imagine the actual party. See the mag for the full effect.

NoLandGrab: Does anyone have a copy?

Extremes of Perception, Astounding
Atlantic Yards joins the eminent domain hall of fame.

The Knickerblogger, You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world....

...Unless you live in the fantasy world of Bruce Ratner/Forest City/ESDC, where demapping city streets is good urban planning and luxury condos are affordable housing.

Posted by lumi at 7:43 AM

October 15, 2007

Will Atlantic Yards security get a state hearing (and would streets close)?

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder reports on issues raised at yesterday's press conference, and Borough President Marty Markowitz's response to calls for more information about security measures for Bruce Ratner's planned arena:

NEWARK: CANARY IN A GOLD MINE

Atlantic Yards opponents and critics yesterday called for a state-level hearing to address security at the planned Atlantic Yards arena, citing the announcement last week that the city of Newark would partially close streets during events at the Prudential Center arena, scheduled to open October 25.

SECURITY ISSUES SHOULD BE DISCLOSED BEFORE CONSTRUCTION

"Study security issues through a public process before construction," declared Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein (right), at a press conference held before DDDB's third annual Walk Don't Destroy walkathon. "Common sense dictates" that the unique location, use, and density of the project "makes for an attractive terror target." (DDDB points to multiple scenarios.)

"We don't know what the setbacks are" along Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, where the glass-walled arena will connect with the glass-walled Miss Brooklyn tower, Goldstein said outside Freddy's Bar & Backroom, at the corner Dean Street and Sixth Avenue, scheduled to be demolished for the project, at the southeast corner of the planned arena block.

SECURITY MEASURES SHOULD BE DISCUSSED

At the press conference, Jim Vogel of the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods (CBN) said a hearing should reveal the impacts a security plan would have on: public access to streets and other public areas during arena events; the people in the residential towers planned around the arena; the people across the street from the arena; and the cost and funding of security plans.

MARTY AGREES, AT LEAST WITH ONE POINT

Later that afternoon, I ran into Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz at a stop on the Prospect Heights House Tour. I pointed out that the ESDC didn't consider a terrorist attack a "reasonable worst-case scenario" but the Newark police director did so.

"I happen to agree with the Newark police director," Markowitz said, offering a commonsense interpretation of the phrase, rather than the ESDC's more legalistic one. "That's why I'm confident Forest City Ratner has taken into the construction of the new arena the issues of security."

Should these issues be discussed publicly? "As the plan moves forward," he said, "we'll be informed."

When?

"Way before two weeks."

Would or should streets be closed?

"I don't know," he responded.

When will we know?

"At the appropriate time."

full article

Posted by lumi at 11:42 AM

Opponents Of Brooklyn Arena Raise Security Issues

Want Governor Spitzer To Address Terror Risk

AP, via WCBSTV.com

Opponents of Brooklyn's planned NBA arena said Sunday that Gov. Eliot Spitzer should address security concerns connected to the project, citing the decision by officials in Newark, N.J. to close streets abutting a new arena there.

Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, said the terror risk for the planned Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn "is potentially far greater than that faced by the Newark arena."

"The time for a review of the impacts of a terrorist threat against Atlantic Yards and a state hearing on the issue is now," Goldstein said.

He said Spitzer's homeland security czar, Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni, should testify at such a hearing on Atlantic Yards terrorism security issues. On Sunday, state officials said Balboni would be happy to meet with the community to go over security concerns. ...
Bruce Bender, executive vice president with the developer, Forest City Ratner, said the project had always paid attention to security issues.

"From the start, Forest City Ratner has worked very closely with security experts on Atlantic Yards, and the top police, fire and security experts in the City have reviewed and approved our comprehensive plan. Anyone who has any experience in security knows that you do not discuss sensitive security matters in public for very obvious reasons," he said.

article

The AP article also ran in various forms in:
NY Daily News, Atlantic Yards complex foes urge state to consider terror risk
The NY Sun, Brooklyn NBA Arena's Foes Point To Security Problems
MetroNY, Foes of Brooklyn arena raise security issue (front page story) Newsday, Brooklyn arena foes want review of terrorism risk
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn posted a response on its web site, "FCR: Don't Worry, Be Happy."

Pardon us if we don't trust Forest City Ratner's "don't worry be happy" game plan, which completely fails to disclose any security measures for the glass-walled arena, surrounded by glass-walled towers, over the 3rd largest transportation hub in the city, abutting the busiest traffic intersection in Brooklyn at Atlantic and Flatbush, at a location that was the site of a thwarted terrorist attack in 1997.

We're not asking for state secrets, we're asking for the issue to be reviewed within the Environmental Impact Statement, only keeping confidential that which must be confidential -- and clearly measures like street closings are simply not confidential. So don't buy Bender's disingenous, "Anyone who has any experience in security knows that you do not discuss sensitive security matters in public for very obvious reasons." Oh really?

Despite Newark's police decision, two weeks before opening that city's new Prudential Center arena, to shut down two streets during arena events there and despite that city's police chief saying, "You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world," they (Ratner and the ESDC) expect the public to just take their word for it, that we'll be safe, and the security measures won't radically disrupt the surrounding major streets for 230 arena events per year?

Posted by lumi at 11:12 AM

October 14, 2007

Will Brooklyn Arena Be Safe From Terror?

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

Newark Prudential Center Street Closings Raise Troubling Questions;
Elected Officials and Community Groups Call for State Hearing on Atlantic Yards and Terrorism Security

“The terror risk for Forest City Ratner’s (FCR) planned Atlantic Yards project in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is potentially far greater than that faced by the Newark arena, and there is no reason that Brooklyn should play catch-up sometime down the road. The time for a review of the impacts of a terrorist threat against Atlantic Yards and a state hearing on the issue is now,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “We call on Governor Spitzer’s ‘homeland security czar,’ Deputy Secretary for Public Safety Michael Balboni, to address the need for and testify at such a hearing on Atlantic Yards terrorism security issues, and for Governor Spitzer’s ESDC to learn from Newark’s lack of planning and initiate a proper review of Atlantic Yards and terrorism security.”

Atlantic Yards would be a glass-walled arena surrounded by glass-walled skyscrapers, abutting the busiest (and frequently gridlocked) intersection in Brooklyn, sitting atop the third-largest transportation hub in the city, which was the site of a thwarted terror attack in 1997. It would be the densest residential community in the entire United States. FCR projects about 230 events per year at the arena. Yet the city and state of New York have failed to perform a proper and comprehensive review of terrorism security issues for the project. In the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) refused to consider the threat of a terrorist attack, claiming that a terrorist attack was “not a reasonable worst-case scenario” warranting examination in the EIS.

article

Posted by amy at 7:15 PM

October 13, 2007

Security and the AY arena, an update

gehry2oct07.jpg

Atlantic Yards Report

So, would the glass walls of the Atlantic Yards arena be as close to Flatbush and Atlantic avenues in Brooklyn as the Prudential Center seems to be to streets in Newark, necessitating the partial closure of streets there during arena events?

The situation seems similar if not directly parallel, and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn and the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods will have a press conference Sunday, calling for a state hearing on Atlantic Yards and terrorism security.

We don't have the clearest information, but the rendering (above) from AtlanticYards.com suggests that the glass-walled arena, as well as the glass expanse of Miss Brooklyn and the attached Urban Room, would be pretty close to the Flatbush Avenue. (The Atlantic Avenue arena facade also would have significant amounts of glass.)

article

Posted by amy at 7:52 AM

October 12, 2007

Uh-oh: Newark to close street bordering arena to guard against terrorism (and what about AY?)

Atlantic Yards Report

AY-PruCent-AYR.jpgIn light of revelations that the new downtown Newark arena requires game-day street closings to address security concerns, Norman Oder assesses the issue of security and terrorism for Atlantic Yards.

Here's an excerpt, but it's really worth reading the entire article:

For Brooklynites, Newark's decision raises questions about the arena planned for the Atlantic Yards development, which similarly would have a considerable expanse of glass, a design feature vulnerable to a truck bomb, McCarthy's concern.

So, does the city of New York plan to close parts of adjacent streets, notably narrow Dean Street or even wider Flatbush or Atlantic avenues, during arena events in Brooklyn? If so, why was it not disclosed during the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) environmental review of Atlantic Yards, since it inevitably would affect traffic?

And if the city does not plan to do so, then what would make the configuration of streets near the Brooklyn arena that much safer than its counterpart in Newark? In the Star-Ledger, McCarthy described the "standoff"--the distance between the building and a potential terrorist threat--as insufficient on adjacent Edison Place and Mulberry Street, neither of which have residences across the street from the arena, as planned in Brooklyn.

In Brooklyn, actually, the towers wrapping the arena would be mostly residential. Dean Street appears to be somewhat wider than Edison Place, but is by no means a major thoroughfare.

Dean Street would be the southern border of the arena block, as shown in the illustration at right from New York magazine. While the main arena entrances would be on busy Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, the preferred (VIP) seating entry and entry to the loading area would be located on Dean Street.

Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

Newark will shut streets near arena

The Newark Star-Ledger
By Jeffery C. Mays and Jonathan Schuppe

This one goes into the are-u-effin-kidding-me file.

For a couple of years Atlantic Yards critics have questioned the wisdom of locating a glass and steel skyscraper, atrium and arena at one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, over a transit hub that was already the target of a foiled terrorist attack.

Apparently no one was thinking that hard in New Jersey:

PruCenterArena.jpg

With two towering glass entranceways, a high-definition scoreboard and a massive video screen visible from Manhattan, the Prudential Center in downtown Newark boasts all the features of a state-of-the-art arena.

Except for one thing: it was built too close to the street.

City officials said yesterday that the arena, due to open Oct. 25, isn't far enough from traffic to protect it from a potential terrorist attack.

To make up for the shortcoming, Newark will outfit surrounding streets with concrete barriers to keep cars and trucks from the entrance at the corner of Edison Place and Mulberry Street.

"You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world," Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy said. "So we're playing catch-up and taking measures to make sure it's safe."

He added, "It will be safe on opening day."

McCarthy and Mayor Cory Booker, who took office last year long after construction began, declined to comment on who was to blame for the apparent oversight.

As far as he could tell, McCarthy said, a homeland security survey was never done for the site.

article

The story was also carried by the AP (via, WCBS880.com).

NoLandGrab: Seriously, Bruce Ratner claims to have commissioned a security and terrorism threat assessment, only it's top secret (maybe even double-secret). Maybe the evil geniuses at Forest City Ratner and the NYC Dept. of Transportation are sitting on a plan to close the intersection at Atlantic and Flatbush on game days and sell it to the public as a "traffic-calming measure."

UPDATE, 11/25/07: THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE ONLINE. THE COMPLETE ARTICLE APPEARS BELOW AND IS BEING PROVIDED FOR RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES AS ALLOWED UNDER SECTION 107 OF THE US COPYRIGHT LAW.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT
Newark will shut streets near arena
Thursday, October 11, 2007
BY JEFFERY C. MAYS AND JONATHAN SCHUPPE
Star-Ledger Staff

With two towering glass entranceways, a high-definition scoreboard and a massive video screen visible from Manhattan, the Prudential Center in downtown Newark boasts all the features of a state-of-the-art arena.

Except for one thing: it was built too close to the street.

City officials said yesterday that the arena, due to open Oct. 25, isn't far enough from traffic to protect it from a potential terrorist attack.

To make up for the shortcom ing, Newark will outfit surrounding streets with concrete barriers to keep cars and trucks from the entrance at the corner of Edison Place and Mulberry Street.

"You can't construct an arena and put it right against a street in a post 9/11 world," Newark Police Di rector Garry McCarthy said. "So we're playing catch-up and taking measures to make sure it's safe."

He added, "It will be safe on opening day."

McCarthy and Mayor Cory Booker, who took office last year long after construction began, declined to comment on who was to blame for the apparent oversight.

As far as he could tell, McCar thy said, a homeland security sur vey was never done for the site.

A terrorist threat to downtown Newark is no abstract concept. In 2004, homeland security officials revealed they had intelligence that potential terrorists had cased Prudential Financial's downtown headquarters. Permanent barriers were installed around the building.

The Prudential Center is the largest development project in Newark history, costing $375 million -- with most of the money coming from taxpayers.

Devils owner Jeffrey Vander beek said the building will be the "safest arena in the country."

"There have been constant assessments," Vanderbeek said. "This is a state of the art security system with all the bells and whistles. Anything security-wise is state of the art."

Prudential Center Security Di rector Leslie G.Wiser Jr., the former special agent in charge of the FBI's Newark Division, said he has conducted constant threat assessments since he was hired in February.

"I do a threat assessment on this building every day," Wiser said. "From the moment I arrived I began that process. I have looked at threats, the means by which they can be delivered, I looked at the potential target and I have worked hand-in-hand with police director McCarthy to mitigate the risks."

One result of the assessment is the decision to close portions of Edison Place. Discussions about closing that street -- and, possibly, a portion of Mulberry Street -- on event nights have been going on since at least the early summer.

"This isn't a last-minute thing on our part. We have gone over this with a number of stakeholders," Wiser said.

The security issue came to light yesterday morning, during a special meeting called by the city council to address fears that closing Edison Place would hurt nearby businesses. McCarthy said the city needed to close the street during events to protect the arena from the threat of a truck bomb, but drivers will be allowed to use Edison Place to enter a privately owned parking lot.

Several council members said afterward that they were troubled by the news.

"They are working on it but they started late," said Councilman Oscar S. James II. "The arena is opening in two weeks and I want to make sure we have a plan and people know what it is,"

Said Councilman Carlos Gon zales: "It was a surprise to hear, especially given the environment that we are in. With an investment of that magnitude and having 18,000 people in one place at one time, you have to take precautions."

Richard Monteilh, the business administrator under former Mayor Sharpe James who was the lead negotiator on the arena, said there has always been talk of closing the streets around the arena during events.

"The heightened time to protect the building is when its filled with people. Its an urban facility. You are not going to have a moat around it," he said. Monteilh said that the city's homeland security director and police were involved in security planning regarding the arena.

"We didn't want a siege mentality," he said. "The FBI building (in Newark) sits in a bomb shelter with closed-off streets that drove off life at the waterfront."

McCarthy said in an interview he first noticed the problem several months ago, when he toured the arena while it was still under construction. The so-called "standoff" -- the distance between the building and a poten tial terrorist threat -- was not sufficient on Edison and Mul berry. So he, Vanderbeek and Wiser started devising a plan to keep traffic away, he said.

They agreed to install concrete "Jersey barriers," like ones used as highway dividers, in both streets during arena events.

McCarthy said he is no longer concerned with the arena's safety, and neither should the public.

"Whatever steps were not taken in the past are being taken now," he said.

Staff writer Ian Shearn contributed to this report.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

August 20, 2007

GoLo has issues

Two posts at Gowanus Lounge, in the last week, cover issues that we've been tracking.

Brooklyn Homeowners Can't Get Insurance
HurricaneMap-BKLYN.jpgOne South Sloper's annecdote of trying to get homeowners insurance after being dropped by Allstate is a cautionary tale. Looking at the Brooklyn Hurricane Flooding Map posted on Gowanus, you'll notice that many of the affected zones correspond to areas where City planners are making way for more residential housing.

NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards watchdogs will be keeping an eye on this issue as the cost and availibility of insurance borough-wide will be affected by insurer's concern over severe weather events caused by warming and terrorism/security risks.

Availability and cost of insurance will add to the cost of Bruce Ratner's controversial plan. Who will pay is a lingering question. Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Schumer have already lobbied the Federal government to "correct the market failure" to provide insurance due to the increased risk of terrorism.

Where Will the Gowanus Rezone Stop?
GowanusDev-GL.jpgAnother cautionary message, this time from Marlene Donnelly of Friends and Residents of Greater Gowanus (FROGG), mentions one issue that NLG has mentioned several times, that residents in areas under consideration for rezoning have to pay extremely close attention because they are particularly vulnerable under NY State eminent domain law for removal for private developers.

We have also herd chatter about how the residential area between Hoyt and Bond is so under built--consisting of one and two family homes. It seems Planning doesn't feel that one and two family homes are appropriate for the community any longer. Those of us who live in this area between Bond and Hoyt NEED to be concerned. When a building doesn't make full use of it's allowed building size under zoning, it can be classified as "blighted" regardless of the condition of the building. Given the Mayor's Office plan to build housing for millions more people by 2030, we all should be aware that our neighborhood looks ripe for the picking...

Posted by lumi at 9:49 AM

August 17, 2007

On the radio, a question about terrorism & AY

Atlantic Yards Report

AYR reports on Brian Lehrer Show guest host Errol Louis's refusal to take the bait when Atlantic Yards terrorism hawk "Alan from Brooklyn" called in during a segment on the NYPD's recently issued report on homegrown terror threats.

Sure, the show wasn't focused on Atlantic Yards, but there are concerns about terrorism at the planned project. AY critics have questioned how much preparation there has been to protect against terrorism; indeed, the Empire State Development Corporation, in its response to the AY environmental lawsuit, has acknowledged that a review has been conducted, but has been unwilling to make details available.

article

Posted by lumi at 10:08 AM

April 19, 2007

On Terrorism and Securitization

Picketing Henry Ford

Brooklynites are troubled by the lack of scrutiny of the Atlantic Yards project from a terrorism and security standpoint. Picketing Henry Ford author Stuart Schrader just posted a macro-analysis of the causes and implications of this serious situation:

The lawsuit filed recently by opponents of the Atlantic Yards (AY) project seeks to “to annul the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and the approval of Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project”; defendants are the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), the Public Authorities Control Board (PACB), and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Given their less-than-stellar record on transparency, accountability, and ethics, it may be surprising that these agencies did not jump at the chance to give the AY project a thorough “terrorism” review, assessing its vulnerabilities, because there is nothing more purely unanswerable to public, citizen oversight than claims of national security. But the ESDC, PACB, and MTA (no word yet on the NYPD) punted on the terrorism review.

In this post, I discuss the relationship of political Islamist terrorism to neoliberalism through the lens of this large development project, which is using highly leveraged finances and the high-tech architecture of Frank Gehry. I also discuss “securitization,” a term I am using differently from its traditional meaning, to describe the sublimation of urban security features into a totalizing ideology of security and how this process may negatively affect both the architectural character of the project and the actual people, particularly local minorities, who support the project.

article

Posted by lumi at 9:38 AM

What's a "reasonable worst-case scenario"? ESDC considered terrorism, just not in EIS

Atlantic Yards Report

Critics of the Atlantic Yards environmental review had previously been told by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that post-9/11 terrorism was beyond the scope of the law. ...
Now there's a response from Forest City Ratner in the ligitation challenging the environmental review and seeking a temporary restraining order to block demolitions. In it, FCR attorney Jeffrey Braun points out that no regulation requires terrorist attacks to be analyzed.

Further, he points to a series of actions that suggests that the ESDC and the developer have taken the terrorist issue quite seriously:

In this case, the submissions in opposition to the petition will show that ESDC made the eminently sensible determination that the risk of a terrorist attack was not appropriate for inclusion in the SEQRA process, which would have entailed the publication, including availability on the Internet, of information about risk assessment and security measures. The submissions also will show that FCRC retained preeminent security consultants and, working with those consultants, participated in extensive confidential reviews of the Project with the New York City Police Department’s Counter-Terrorism Task Force, to assess the risk of a terrorist attack and to address that risk in an appropriate manner. Given the nature of the threat, however, it would not be appropriate—indeed, it would be foolish—to expose the risk assessment materials to public scrutiny.

That may be so, but in other projects there has been at least some acknowledgement of security issues.

And the question remains: what's the difference between "a reasonable worst-case scenario" under the scope of state law and "a reasonable worst-case scenario" under a common-sense understanding?

article

Posted by lumi at 9:30 AM

April 11, 2007

Atlantic Yards Deathtrap!

When the joke is on Brooklyn, what's left to do but celebrate the ATLANTIC YARDS DEATHTRAP:

"With a building this UGLY and DEADLY, NO TERRORIST will be able to MISS BROOKLYN when PLANNING the ULTIMATE TERROR ATTACK!!"

The ATLANTIC YARDS DEATHTRAP comes complete with MILLIONS OF GLASS SHARDS!!!

Just ADD PUBLIC MONEY & WATCH IT GROW!!!!! [Assembly required.]

Posted by lumi at 7:04 AM

March 6, 2007

With Terror Insurance To Expire, New York City Leaders Urge Renewal

AP, via InsuranceNewsNet.com

NEW YORK — When property owners could not get terrorism insurance amid post-Sept. 11, 2001 worries of future attacks, Congress provided a backup — a program that many say must be renewed before it expires at the end of this year.

During a hearing Monday at City Hall, blocks from the World Trade Center site, Sen. Charles Schumer, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and real estate developers urged federal lawmakers to make the program permanent — or, at the very least, extend it for several years.
...
Critics of TRIA have complained the federal program unnecessarily subsidizes already successful developers and insurers, but Bloomberg said it simply corrects a "market failure" caused by the threat of terrorism.
...
Bloomberg noted several major development projects happening simultaneously in New York City, including the rebuilding at ground zero and a major commercial and residential complex in Brooklyn known as Atlantic Yards.

"Without terrorism risk insurance, none of them would ever get off the ground," he said. "And if projects like this are put in jeopardy, so will the future of our city — the global financial leader of America."

article

NoLandGrab: A terrorism and security risk assessment has been requested by the commmunity, but was not included in the Environmental Impact Statement because it is not required by law.

Even though Atlantic Terminal was the target of a thwarted bombing plot, the City and State have not questioned the wisdom of or costs associated with constructing a glass and steel tower, in close proximity to a landing approach for LaGuardia airport, at one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, over one of the largest transit hubs in the system.

Brooklynites are puzzled by why they are not getting the same consideration as Lower Manhattan, where the base of the Freedom Tower was redesigned to address vulnerability to truck bombs.

Remember, back in early December, 2006, Al Rosner warned that the insurance industry's risk assesments, revised after 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, could leave taxpayers holding the bag.

Posted by lumi at 8:40 AM

January 18, 2007

Justices Decline to Take Up New Eminent Domain Case

The NY Times
By Linda Greenhouse

The Supreme Court on Tuesday bypassed an opportunity to revisit or limit its much-disputed 2005 ruling that upheld governmental power to use eminent domain to foster economic development.
...
The lawsuit accused Gregg Wasser, G & S Port Chester’s owner, of having improperly demanded a financial stake in the plan for the CVS store as the price for permission to proceed with it.
...
Even if there was interest on the court in revisiting the issue, the justices might have seen the Port Chester case as a poor vehicle for doing so, because the lower courts based their dismissal on the property owner’s failure to file his lawsuit within the three-year statute of limitations. The suit should have been filed within three years of the village’s July 1999 adoption of the redevelopment plan, the courts ruled, rejecting Mr. Didden’s argument that the clock did not start running until late 2003, when the village announced that it would take his property.

“I’m so disillusioned with the whole court system at this point,” Mr. Didden said on Tuesday.

The same article mentions that the Supreme Court declined to "hear a California utility company’s appeal of a ruling that required administrative review of the potential environmental impact of a terrorist attack on the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo."

In contrast, there has been no "review of the potentional environmental impact of a terrorist attack" on Atlantic Yards.

article

Posted by lumi at 8:12 AM

January 10, 2007

If you build it... they will come

South Oxford Street asks, "In a post-9/11 New York City, why does our government want to build a 60-story glass tower with a 20,000-seat arena, on one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, over parking garages & subway stations, in a densely populated area?"

flightpathAY.jpgRemember all the criticism that ensued when it was discovered that the NYPD were not consulted on the Freedom Tower's design? The Freedom Tower had to be redesigned to incorporate the NYPDs and Homeland Security's anti-terrorism concerns, which has caused years of construction delays. By contrast, the largest development in the history of New York City, the Atlantic Yards, with its 17+ skyscrapers, received no terrorism review. I guess Brooklyn residents are expendable in the eyes of our government officials

link

NoLandGrab: Technically, the flight path is supposed to be over Prospect Park, in order to avoid some of the more densely populated neighborhoods in Brooklyn. However, the planes on approach to LaGuardia often drift away from the prescribed flight path.

Also, Norman Oder reported that Ratner has conducted a security study, but it is top secret and, like many troubling aspects of the development plan, is not part of the public review process.

Posted by lumi at 8:48 AM

December 7, 2006

Atlantic Yards: Creating the next terrorist target?

Daily Gotham

Mole333 posts an open letter from Al Rosner to Governor-elect Spitzer. Rosner highlights the fact that a post-9/11 and Katrina security analysis has been overlooked.

Unconscionably the ESDC has chosen to ignore all too many of the documented concerns of the communities surrounding this project. One area of profound consequence they have refused to address regards issues of public safety and security. Since the attacks of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina this has become a major focus of attention at all levels of government, yet any such consideration here was disregarded.

link

NoLandGrab: You may be thinking, "Katrina??? Now Rosner has really lost it." But Rosner has a point. Post-9/11 and Hurricane Katrina MARKET conditions have not only added to the cost of additional security measures, but have caused insurance premiums to skyrocket. Something tells us if these costs become unmanageable, taxpayers, not Bruce Ratner, will be holding the bag (again).

Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

December 6, 2006

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere19.jpgDon't Worry It's Just Reality (Brooklyn Ed.), Why do "nice guys" like Michael Ratner Associate With 'bad guys' like Bruce Ratner?

It's a trick question... he's not a nice guy.

In a subsequent post, Dreadnaught notes that Michael Ratner is an international human rights lawyer, which gets him off the hook for local human rights.

The Gowanus Lounge, Christmas + Atlantic Yards = Atlantic Yards Youtube Christmas Carols
GL gives the Prospect Heights Action Carolers some airplay and has this warning for Marty Markowtiz:

Do you begin to sense what will happen if the BP runs for Mayor and people hold a grudge? The only mayoral candidate with a pre-mixed opposition group.

Gawker, Memo to Bruce Ratner: Where's Your YouTube Video, Hmmmm?

If you really wanna see Bruce Ratner's YouTube video, click here.

[Note: Give it up for targeted advertising. When we viewed Bruce Ratner's YouTube vid, the banner ad for Cingular featured Nets minority owner, Jay-Z.]

I'm Seeing Green, Atlantic Yards Light

Worried about being blown over by the Atlantic Yards project?

The Gowanus Lounge, Atlantic Yards: A Terrorist Attack is Not a "Reasonable Worst-Case Scenario"?

If a major terrorist attack is not "a reasonable worst-case scenario" for an arena atop a train and subway station with a highrise atop it and apartments nearby, what is?

You can overlook all of the impacts of Atlantic Yards that have been ignored: scale, density, pollution, congestion, shadows, etc., etc., etc., but even the most enthusiastic backer of the project should ask that officialdom hit the pause button until proper anti-terrorism and safety planning is done.

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

December 5, 2006

FIVE Bogus Points!

We've been saving the five bogus-point rating for the ultimate in Bo-da-cious.

In response to the community's request that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) address security and the threat of terrorism, the Final EIS states in Chapter 24, page 235:

"Emergency scenarios such as a large-scale terrorist attack similar to the World Trade Center attack, a biological or chemical attack, or a bomb are not considered a reasonable worst-case scenario and are therefore outside the scope of the EIS."

5Bruce-BogusPoints.gifIf these are not "reasonable worst-case scenarios," then what is? How much worse can you get?

Nuff said, we're slapping this one with the max — that's five bogus points.

Posted by lumi at 9:07 AM

December 1, 2006

Security in a Box

GehryModel-Glass.jpgDevelop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) explains why the coalition has been deeply concerned about the issue of terrorism and security for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project:

Because the proposal calls for a glass-walled arena (with 250 regularly scheduled events drawing crowds of up to 20,000), surrounded by glass-walled high-rise towers, over the 3rd largest transportation hub in the city, right at one of the busiest and most gridlocked intersections in Brooklyn, at a location targeted for a terrorist attack in 1997.

This week, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report attended a forum about the terrorism and security challenges inherent in projects involving large amounts of public space. Oder explains in an article how no one could take his question about Atlantic Yards, since one panelist was under contract to Ratner and another was a City (not State) official.

DDDB's response:

So, we only have a Ratner consultant looking at security, in a box, from the developer's point of view; we have the city passing the buck to the state; and we have the state mum on the issue.

link

Posted by lumi at 4:51 PM

November 30, 2006

Security study for Atlantic Yards? Sure, but it's Ratner's

Atlantic Yards Report

The Municipal Art Society held a forum on the issues related to creating great public spaces during the age of terrorism concerns. Norman Oder was in attendance and popped the question about Atlantic Yards in the Q&A.

FreedomTower.gifOne question on the minds of Brooklynites is why the base of the Freedom Tower was redesigned to address vunerability to truck bombs, while Ratner is proposing to build a glass-and-steel skyscraper and arena attached to the densest residential community in America, over a transit hub that was the target of a foiled terrorist attack? Where's the security study? The public wants to know how terrorism and security concerns are being addressed.

You're probably used to not receiving answers to your questions and concerns about Atlantic Yards, so the non-answer to Oder's question won't be a surprise.

article

Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

November 26, 2006

Coalition Asks State Board To Consider Terrorism Protections for Atlantic Yards

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

The coalition, consisting of 40 neighborhood organizations including four community boards, raised several concerns in its letter to the board, sent Tuesday, that were not addressed when the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the project earlier this month.

Those concerns included whether an insurance company would cover buildings in a development made largely of glass with an arena above an underground parking garage and one of the city’s main transportation hubs, and how affordable that insurance would be to low-income tenants.

The CBN also contends that the project violates several post- Sept. 11 codes that the Freedom Tower was required to follow, such as increasing its distance from the street and constructing the first few levels of impermeable concrete and steel.

“The ESDC has claimed that it does not have a specific mandate to look at post-Sept. 11 issues,” said Jim Vogel, secretary of the Council. “But you’re talking about thousands of people’s lives. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t cut it.”

article

Posted by amy at 11:48 AM

Brooklyn Broadside:Yards Plan Includes ‘Urban Room,’ New Transit, LIRR Connections

glassroom11.06.jpg

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Another development that promises to be unique to Brooklyn and maybe the city is the “urban room,” a large proposed public space that will be the “lobby” for both the centerpiece building and the arena. The entrance to the building, a triangle made from the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic Avenues, will lead to a broad staircase which the architect, Frank Gehry, calls Brooklyn’s biggest “stoop.”

The size of this space, to be glass enclosed, is expected to be about 10,000 square feet. It will occupy two levels. A café is expected to be on the street level for ease of access by pedestrians going to and from the subway and the street during both event-and non-event periods.

article
Oooh - a giant glass room! Pairs perfectly with the FEIS's lack of preparation for terrorist activities!

Posted by amy at 11:41 AM

November 25, 2006

Civic Groups Cite Potential Terror Threat At Atlantic Yards; Call For Study

Courier-Life
Thomas Tracy

The FEIS, released on November 15, doesn’t take into account the Atlantic Yards potential to be a terrorist target, Council members said, adding that the ESDC told Council members that they didn’t look into such matters because “environmental legislation doesn’t require it.”

“Over 100,000 people live in the vicinity of this project,” said Jim Vogel, a spokesperson for the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods. “It is unacceptable that their safety and security should be compromised by hair splitting about the letter of the law.”

In their letter, Council members said that fears of terrorism at the Atlantic Yards “were made known to the ESDC in responses to its Draft Scope of Analysis for the Atlantic Yards from the CBN, Community Boards 2, 6 and 8 and many elected representatives and community groups.”

“Unfortunately, the ESDC failed to acknowledge these concerns,” they stated.

article

Posted by amy at 1:18 PM

September 12, 2006

On 9/12, a day for an election--and a hearing

Atlantic Yards Report cites the list of security concerns about Ratner's Atlantic Yards project (posted yesterday) and explains:

Given that post-9/11 security is not within the scope of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), that responsibility--and the responsibility remains--will fall to our elected officals.

Whether they support Atlantic Yards or not--and Atlantic Yards Vote and NLG will let you know--our elected officials (and that includes ones not in races today) owe the public a responsible analysis.

article

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

September 11, 2006

We shall never forget, but we are wondering

wtc-brooklyn.jpgFive years after our city and country lost so many loved ones on September 11th, many Brooklynites are wondering why Bruce Ratner plans to build: * a glass and steel skyscraper, * towering above an arena, * at one of the busiest intersections in Brooklyn, * over a transit hub that has already been targeted by terrorists.

Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

July 21, 2006

Ever on Guard Against Scary Parades

The NY Times
By Clyde Haberman

Two days ago, Gothamist pointed out that the public hearings for the new NYPD guidelines for public gatherings and the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement are on the same day. Somehow, we figured that wouldn't be the last time the two issues would be linked.

JulyRally-NYT.jpgToday's Clyde Haberman column, about how the NYPD is making a mountain out of a molehill by proposing to severely restrict public gatherings, is illustrated by this photo from last week's rally with the following caption:

People gathered at Grand Army Plaza, where the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn group held a rally against the Atlantic Yards project on Sunday.

Haberman makes a good point about these absurd rules:

Bicyclists traveling in groups of 20 or more must first get a parade permit from the police. The same goes for groups of 35 or more people walking together on sidewalks. For that matter, a group of merely two people — that’s right, two people — will be defined as a parade if they walk or cycle “in a manner that does not comply with all applicable traffic laws, rules and regulations.”

Be honest. Have you never, while strolling or biking with a companion, crossed the street against a red light? Have you never, while strolling or biking with a companion, crossed the street against a red light? It would seem that the two of you will now, technically speaking, qualify as a parade. And since you probably will not have first asked the police for a parade permit, it appears that you will — again technically — be breaking two laws.
...
PRACTICAL considerations also come to mind. Will 20 people on a routine bike tour have to get a parade permit? How about 35 kids walking as a group on a class trip? Or a funeral procession? [Or a handful of Atlantic Yards opponents en route to another Ratner press conference?]

Paul J. Browne, a Police Department spokesman, dismissed all this as “grasping at unrealistic scenarios.”

article (online, Times Select subscribers only)

NoLandGrab: In the meantime, when is the NYPD going to scrutinize the feasibility and impacts of building glass-&-steel high rises and an arena over the third-largest transportation hub in the region?

Posted by lumi at 10:28 AM

July 20, 2006

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY (Open Letter): NEW TERROR TARGETS FOR BROOKLYN

UrbanRoom01.jpgYou've already heard it in the press: the Draft Environmental Impact Statement doesn't cover terrorism and security issues, despite their impacts on post-9/11 urban design and the fact that Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry are proposing to build the 60-story glass-and-steel "Miss Brooklyn" atop a major transportation hub.

While the State won't study or reveal the potential impacts of putting the densest residential project in the entire US over a major transportation hub, Prospect Heights resident Alan Rosner keeps asking the tough questions and entreating the press to get some answers.

Glass-clad skyscrapers, next to a glass sports arena, above the third largest transportation hub in the city, may soon be coming to… Brooklyn. And no one has assumed responsibility for the risks Brooklyn is being told to swallow.

The State agency in charge, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), declares it will NOT address post-9/11 security issues — issues that were raised by local elected officials, the three affected community boards and more than 30 community groups, as well as at official Boro Board meetings with the ESDC in attendance.

Governor Pataki will soon be leaving Albany. Has even one reporter asked any of the candidates vying to replace him about their positions on the ESDC’s disregard of the public’s safety concerns? Somehow, the press seems to have decided there’s no story there.

Meanwhile, public officials outraged over the 40% cut in New York's Department of Homeland Security grants have remained silent on security in the heart of Brooklyn: Mayor Bloomberg, who gave over control to the State, silent; our own Mr. Security, Senator Schumer, silent.

In high-profile Manhattan, publicized security problems at the Freedom Tower led to a re-thinking of that project, ultimately resulting in a far smarter design. Terrorism concerns did not prevent development from going forward. Here in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards project, roughly as big, easily as consequential … well it’s … fuggedaboudit!!!

Due to the ESDC’s unique understanding of due diligence, the developer, not the State, could easily end up being the party making the following crucial public safety decisions, behind closed doors, with no oversight: * How strong should all that glass be? * Should there even be that much glass there?
* What fire ratings ought the structural steel have?

So, when do we learn who will determine our safety and well-being? And, how come no one appears interested in finding out?

What Ratner Wins By Ignoring Security
Fortunately for Ratner, project financials will not have to include 30 years of costly Terrorism Insurance premiums. For 16 towers and a sports arena, premiums could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Will the public perhaps have to step in to cover this “unanticipated” cost? No one has addressed this question.

Also, the ESDC will never have to acknowledge that this project concentrates so much additional risk at this particular location, nor that it irreversibly alters Brooklyn’s existing risk profile. Neither will the ESDC be compelled to indicate that the alternative project proposals, without skyscrapers or sports arenas, would not create those concerns!

Finally, with State control trumping city building codes, we may be left with Ratner helping to determine: * standards for exterior glass blast resistance, * the fire ratings for the structural steel, * emergency stairwell sizes, * whether or not Fire Department radio repeaters will be installed in the high rises, * whether there will be bio-chemical detectors and proper air-circulation systems, * and a host of other critical design and construction standards.

Will cost or public safety prevail? And if “standards” are belatedly announced, will they include appropriate post-9/11 enhancements?

How Brooklyn Loses
Indirectly, the biggest cost to Brooklyn communities could be that increased risks lead property- and small-business-insurance providers to raise premiums or withdraw from the market altogether (See NY Daily News, So this is a terror target? 03/27/06).

Issues of uninsurability could affect affordable housing in ways that dwarf Ratner's pledges for the Atlantic Yards. Allstate’s response to Hurricane Katrina was to reduce its share of Brooklyn’s homeowners' insurance market (See, AP, HOMEOWNERS FAR AWAY PAY KATRINA'S DAMAGE, 06/22/06). Could this become one of those “who could ever have imagined” scenarios?

The greatest ongoing impact will likely come from the ESDC's ignoring of the traffic implications of the need for security barriers and vehicle inspections when the arena is in use, or when the Feds raise the Terror Alert Status. Likewise, since the NYPD can close streets for any security reason, the ESDC will not have to model those impacts, either. We, however, will have to live with whatever the ESDC’s Environmental Impact Statement ignores.

Indeed, the ESDC won’t have to address the implications for evacuations — or for that matter, NYPD and FDNY response times — in any sort of emergency situation. Given Brooklyn’s development-driven infrastructure overloads at the Atlantic Avenue transit station and the Flatbush, Atlantic & 4th Avenue intersections, such consequences would likely be unacceptable if publicly acknowledged.


What I haven't yet mentioned — just two years after the Madrid train bombings, a year after the London Metro bombings, and days after Mumbai’s rail bombings — is that the Atlantic Avenue station was the target of a failed suicide bomb plot in 1997.

One positive development: Ratner’s arena was originally to have sub-surface parking beneath the arena. The community protested and suddenly, it’s gone. However, it now appears that it was the NBA that determined it is unsafe to have parking beneath an arena, not any state or city agency — another story the press missed.

Alan Rosner
July, 2006

Posted by lumi at 12:23 AM

May 18, 2006

FCRC Mute On Atlantic Yards Security In Event of Terror Attack

Courier-Life Publications
By Emily Keller

If terrorists decide to target the Nets basketball arena planned for Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, it is unclear how the arena’s developer would keep the team’s fans safe, or how the 19,000 people that the arena is planned to seat would be evacuated.

Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), the developer of the Atlantic Yards project that includes the arena and 17 residential and office towers, says the company does not discuss security with the public.

When asked whether the company will purchase terrorism insurance, how the development is designed to deter terrorists, and how Nets fans would be evacuated in the case of a terrorist attack, FCRC spokesperson Joe DePlasco said:

“We do not discuss security issues. We do, however, as we have said, meet with security experts and the [New York Police Department] NYPD to ensure that security is a priority in all stages of development. As we have done for all of our projects, we have also hired security consultants who regularly interface with the NYPD on behalf of the company.”

What is clear is that the possibility of a terrorist attack in the area is real, and according to Alan Rosner, a retired strategic and business analyst, will become greater should the contentious Atlantic Yards project come to fruition.

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Posted by lumi at 10:02 PM

December 26, 2005

Will ESDC consider terrorism/security issues--and would Ratner build an under-arena garage?

TimesRatnerReport takes a detailed look at security and terrorism concerns about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal. At issue is venue parking and whether or not the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) will study the impacts of on-site parking, the arena and construction on terrorism security and emergency services.

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NoLandGrab: This article is a must read for those who are interested in Urban Planning in the post-9/11 world.

Posted by lumi at 8:49 AM

December 8, 2005

Venue Parking and Security

autosecurity.jpgBrooklyn Views

Calling venue parking for the proposed Nets arena a "charade," Brooklyn Views points out that parking under an arena is a major security threat:

Ultimately, venue parking - as currently proposed - won’t happen.
...
Does anyone really believe, post 9-11, that we’ll allow unchecked passenger vehicles to drive under an arena filled with 20,000 fans at events carried live on national TV?

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NoLandGrab: "Charade" is the right word. Venue parking could be in the plan as a giveback to the community. If so, traffic planners and pols need to start talking about real options.

Posted by lumi at 7:24 AM

August 7, 2005

Ratner arena a terror concern

Letter to the Editor of the Brooklyn Papers regarding the inherent and dangerous flaws in the Ratner plan:

To the editor:

As a co-author of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn’s white paper, “Terrorism, Security & the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise & Arena Development Project,” I would like to clarify two points in your July 16 article headlined, “Atlantic Terminal Terror Fear.”

While the white paper identifies various terrorist scenarios, one of its primary purposes is to show how the project’s location and design flaws create serious consequences even if NO terrorist event ever occurs.

Not only will there be direct costs that have never been included in anyone’s budgets — such as what to do about the Arena’s easily targeted street-side glass walls, or the Fire Department’s need for equipment for handling highrise fires and rescues in a borough that has been low-rise up until now — but cumulatively these costs could be high enough to affect the underlying financing of the project. One cost alone, that of terrorism insurance, could easily run into hundreds of millions of dollars, over the life of the project, when current federal laws covering such costs expire at the end of this year.

Original article
The White Paper: "Terrorism, Security & the Proposed Brooklyn Atlantic Yards High Rise & Arena Development Project"

Other non-financial costs are equally problematic. The most devastating of them concerns the impacts of traffic with its public health — read asthma — implications. [And] the need to secure the arena during special events, such as NBAplayoffs will inevitably create outright gridlock.

Brooklynites only have to think back to last August’s massive three-day nightmare when an elevated terror alert out of Washington, D.C., required the inspection of all commercial vehicles crossing the Manhattan Bridge. As noted, no actual terrorist event was required for there to be real costs to all of Downtown Brooklyn and its economy.

I have been exploring the security-related issues of this out-of-scale project since well before ever hearing of DDDB. In fact, the article’s indication that this issue has been brought up in various community meetings over the past year is really a reference to my own attempt to make security concerns a part of the public discourse. So while I support DDDB in all their efforts, I have maintained an independent stance to better present my findings. Most of these concerns have now been included in various pre-scoping documents being readied for the upcoming Environmental Impact Study.

The response of politicians has been mixed. Some, like [Councilwoman] Letitia James, [state Sen.] Velmanette Montgomery and Chris Owens [legislative aide to his father, Rep. Major Owens, who has expressed interest in running for the congressional seat] have been very accepting, while others have not.

Some, like mayoral candidates [City Council Speaker] Gifford Miller or [Rep.] Anthony Weiner have been disingenuous at best. Interestingly, [Borough President] Marty Markowitz, at a meeting of the Dean St. Block Association said it would be a reasonable thing to conduct a thorough security review of the project as was performed for the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero. — Alan M. Rosner, Prospect Heights

Posted by amy at 2:03 PM

July 22, 2005

ATLANTIC YARDS Report: Arena Vulnerable to Terrorists; Changes Urged for Gehry-Designed Ratner Project

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

The high-rise urban hub and professional basketball arena proposed for downtown Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards would be vulnerable to a devastating terrorist attack because of design flaws in architect Frank Gehry’s plans for the site, according to a recent report co-authored by a Defense Department analyst that was released to The New York Sun.

The report recommends changes to the planned glass exterior of the sports arena. According to the authors, an estimated 80% of all casualties from terrorist attacks result from breaking glass. The report also charges that the sports arena and the towers slated for the Atlantic Yards site would not be set back sufficiently from the surrounding streets, “making them subject to the full force of car or truck bombs.” Similar concerns prompted the redesign of the Freedom Tower planned for Ground Zero.

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Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Vallone Introduces Bill Giving Police Veto Power Over Construction Projects

The NY Sun
by Daniel Hemel

...and speaking of security concerns in new construction in NYC:

A City Council member, Peter Vallone Jr., told The New York Sun yesterday that he will introduce legislation that will give the Police Department veto power over all proposals to construct buildings higher than seven stories in the five boroughs.

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NoLandGrab: In light of the concerns over security and terrorism outlined in the security analysis of the Atlantic Yards, this measure could have a major effect on the design and cost of the Ratner plan.

Posted by lumi at 7:44 AM

July 16, 2005

TERMINAL TERROR FEAR

The Brooklyn Papers tells us how it ain't just ugly - it's a death trap:

“Built-in design flaws” of the Ratner buildings — designed by noted architect Frank Gehry — include “a perimeter of high-rise towers surrounding an open central green area with only five street entrances to the entire 24-acre complex,” according to the report, which was based on recent overhead renderings released by Forest City Ratner, the developer’s company. It also cites underground parking in the plan as an attraction to terrorist bomb plotters.

The concerns about lack of building setbacks in the report find that buildings abutting sidewalks in such close proximity serves in “maximizing the blast effects of any car or truck bomb passing by,” stating the result could be “widespread physical destruction and loss of life.”

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Posted by amy at 10:42 AM