Thursday, March 01, 2007

Atlantic Yards Construction Watchdog Phase Begins?

So, if the Atlantic Yards project moves forward, some of the opposition energy will probably transfer to watching the construction work in hawklike fashion, not unlike the way a storm moving through the Midwest hands off its strength to a coastal storm system. For a harbinger of things to come, check out the item yesterday in Atlantic Yards Report and also see today's Metro, which expounds on the story first reported by Norman Oder. What unfolds is a revealing tale of budding problems and a left hand (Forest City Ratner's new "Community Liaison Office") that is unaware of the right hand (other Forest City Ratner operations and the Empire State Development Corp.). From the Metro story:
Ratner had announced construction of a temporary rail yard and demolition of a building on Flatbush Avenue within the 22-acre footprint, but Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, noticed work being done on his street. He visited the liaison to ask what was going on. “He said there was no jackhammering for the community to be worried about,” Krashes recounted. “I told him there had been jackhammering since [last week] on Dean Street.”

Krashes was still waiting for an answer on Monday when his water was shut off.

He called the numbers the liaison gave him. “The first number I called, nobody answered,” Krashes said. “The next number went to a consultant construction agency that didn’t know what I was talking about.”

A Forest City Ratner spokesman called Krashes and said the workers called in the city to check their work and noticed a leak in a water main. But Krashes heard a different story from the workers.

“I was told the plumbers caused the problem and [the Dept. of Environmental Protection] came and had to shut off the water. It’s a big distinction,” Krashes said. “But the bigger problem is there’s going to be a lot of construction going on in the next 10 years that we are going to be exposed to. We need public oversight. A community liaison’s office run by Forest City Ratner is not a replacement for community oversight.”

It could be a very, very, very, very, very long ten years. Did we say, "very"?

UPDATE: Norman Oder also has a followup story in Atlantic Yards Report today about how criticism of Atlantic Yards oversight was aired at an Empire State Development Corp. meeting..

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