Monday, March 19, 2012

No interim report yet on arena Transportation Demand Management plan, originally due in December, now planned for May

The bi-monthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meeting on March 15 covered a lot of ground, but one key issue related to the Barclays Center arena remained shunted to the side, despite promises last year it would have been on the table well before this month.

Where's the Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan, the multi-faceted effort--free MetroCards, cross-marketing with local businesses, remote parking, etc.--to get fewer people to drive to the arena and instead choose public transit?

Only with a robust TDM plan can the interim surface parking lot--between Dean and Pacific streets and Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues--but shrunk from the now-planned 1100 spaces, which would require (potentially noisy and unwieldy) stackers, to a more manageable, greener configuration.

City Council Member Letitia James asked for an update on the plan, and Forest City Ratner agreed, but the issue was dropped and no discussion surfaced during the meeting, which lasted less than 90 minutes.

Pushing back the timetable

Forest City Ratner, with the help of Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing Atlantic Yards, pushed back the release of the plan for six months, reducing the opportunity for public input and for revisions of the plan.

ESD, responding to a question at a public meeting last June about the plan, "anticipated" that the developer would present the plan "to the public for comment in about six months," meaning December 2011.

However, at a December 2011 meeting on transportation issues, we learned that the plan was more likely coming in February, provoking Community Board 2 District Manager Rob Perris to comment that “we should be be very careful” because of the tight time frame.

In January, however, the timetable was pushed back to May.

Interim reports? Semi-promise in January

Perris in January asked if Forest City could provide “interim work products” for discussion before May.

“I pondered this,” Forest City executive Jane Marshall said. “It can't be done in a piecemeal way. You can’t break off the parking from the transit. I don't think there are individual pieces that we can present.”

She promised an update in early May, not late May, and “earlier than May if we can do it.”

Perris asked if it was possible to report on the progress of research in specific areas.

“If we can think of a way of doing that we will try,” Marshall said.

Interim reports? No delivery in March

At the March 15 meting, James commented, "Prior to the holidays, we had a meeting, there was a commitment at that time, that the plan that would be forthcoming in February. Here we are in March."

"If you want on update on where we are, I can give you that," Marshall said.

Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, ESD, said, "We can give you a copy of the [Sam Schwartz] presentation."

"I got a copy of the presentation," James replied. "My question is the actual plan. When is that going to happen?"

"In May we're going to present that plan, but I can give you an update," Marshall said.

But the issue was dropped, at least during the meeting. The next Atlantic Yards District Cabinet meeting is schedule for May 3.

Still waiting

Commenting on Brownstoner, Perris stated:
Jane Marshall has stated several times her personal goal of zero parking at the arena but has not (yet?) been able to sell the idea at FCRC.

Three months overdue, we're now a couple months away from seeing the draft transportation demand management plan. That's when we will know what is real and what is not.
Marshall's personal goal is irrelevant in this case. Many of the suite buyers at the arena will be arriving not by public transit but by luxury personal vehicles. They want a place to park.

The parking lot is supposed to serve both premium customers and high-occupancy vehicles (HOV). What hasn't been made public yet is how many in both groups are expected to seek parking and thus how the surface parking lot can be configured.

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