Even though construction at the Project site has begun, regular passers-by know cleaning and snow clearing in some areas of the Project is still erratic and that in some cases the sidewalks are in poor repair. Conditions have improved since the most recent nadir, the blizzard in late December that wasn't cleared from some Project sidewalks for nearly a week. But even now, over four years after Atlantic Yards was approved by the ESDC, there are vacuums in responsibility for custodianship at the site and Forest City Ratner is doing significantly less than it originally committed to do in 2006.
With the project agreements approved by the ESDC in 2006 Forest City Ratner was given responsibility for the custodianship of all sidewalks lining the perimeter of the site. In the new project agreements approved by the ESDC in 2009, the vacuum in regulations covering the sidewalks lining LIRR/MTA property that existed prior to the Project remains in place. The product of the changes to the project agreements is that it is still unclear who will improve and maintain those sidewalks, clean litter or remove snow.
Some steps have been taken in recent months to clarify what entities are responsible for which sidewalks. The issue of sidewalk custodianship was raised by elected officials with FCRC and ESDC at the second District Service Cabinet February 10th. Since that meeting, an updated map showing responsibility for specific sidewalks has been provided by the ESDC. It details the locations Forest City Ratner's contractors and the Atlantic Yards Development Company will pick up trash and clear snow. The map does not detail who is responsible for replacing and maintaining sidewalks.
In the map Atlantic Yards Development Corporation/FCRC does take responsibility for trash and snow removal in some areas not required according to the logic of NYC property regulations like Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues and the south side of Dean Street between Flatbush and 6th. However those locations are an integral part of the Project's construction plan and heavily visited by construction workers.
Significant questions remain. Who is going to repair the many sidewalks lining LIRR/MTA property? When Barclays Center opens, and the anticipated interim surface parking lot is established, the project plans will lead to radically increased pedestrian traffic on many of the sidewalks that do not have clear custodianship now. Is the arena opening the point FCRC/Atlantic Yards Development Corporation will take on the responsibility of maintaining them?
Currently, there are three types of outstanding custodianship issues:
1). Sanitation and Trash Pick-up
- Clean up has been irregular and is not consistently applied across all sidewalks.
- The worst area in recent months has been Pacific Street at 6th Avenue.
2). Snow Clearing
- Snow clearing has been irregular and is not consistently applied across all sidewalks.
- LIRR clears its entrance ramp snow by placing it on Pacific Street sidewalks.
3). Maintenance and replacement
- Multiple sidewalks lining the project perimeter are in poor condition, either through neglect or the affects of Project construction. Most patches by Project contractors are asphalt, even though many have been in place for years. The sidewalks in particularly poor shape include those along Atlantic Avenue for which there is no clear replacement schedule.