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NYASLA Atlantic Yards Parking Lot Letter 06-12-2012

NYASLA Atlantic Yards Parking Lot Letter 06-12-2012

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Comments on Forest City Ratner Corporation’s Design for Temporary Parking Lot B1129 on the Atlantic Yards Site

June 12, 2012 Kenneth Adams President/CEO Empire State Development Corporation 633 3rd Avenue New York, NY 10017 RE: The Proposed Designs for Temporary Parking Lot B1129, Atlantic Yards Dear Mr. Adams: The New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (NYASLA) is an organization of landscape architects in New York City, Long Island and Westchester. Given recent news regarding the design for the temporary parking lot (Lot B1129) on the Atlantic Yards site, we are submitting this letter of dissatisfaction with the proposed design. We feel that the design should be much more sustainable, meaning that in addition to just providing parking spaces, it would benefit the city through vegetation, shade, a minimized carbon footprint, stormwater management and pervious parking surface materials. Such an approach is more respectful of the quality of life of adjacent residents and businesses. We include recommendations for achieving those goals. NYASLA asks that the design for Lot B1129 be revised in order to incorporate important sustainable practices and to address the quality of life for adjacent residents, workers, and visitors to the site. Overall, we find the proposed design troubling, potentially dangerous to long-term public health, averse to maintaining environmental quality and inconsistent with NYC’s intent to strengthen the economy, combat climate change and enhance quality of life through thoughtful and environmentally beneficial design. The presently proposed design, a continuous asphalt pour, will result in higher-than-average temperatures in the neighborhood as a result of the heat island effect. Heat Island is the condition where an area, such as a city or paved area, has consistently higher temperatures than surrounding greener areas because of a greater retention of heat by buildings, concrete, and asphalt. The site will also contribute a higher concentrate of carbon dioxide into the air due to the absence of the mitigating effect of trees that can sequester the carbon. This position letter is specifically responding to the following facts that have been shared by Forest City Ratner Corporation (FCRC) with the public in regards to the design for Parking Lot B1129:


Denisha Williams
President Elect

Laura Starr

Nette Compton

Kenneth Keltai

Adrian Smith
Past President

Tricia Martin
Executive Committee

Celine Armstrong Alison Duncan Amy T. Gavaris Marcha Johnson Slavica Mickovic Bryan Quinn Dave Russo Curtis F. Velsor, Jr. Amy C. Verel

Anthony Walmsley, FASLA
CCNY Landscape Architecture Program Director

Denise Hoffman Brandt
Student Chapter President

Ken Missbrenner
Executive Director

Donna Panton New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects 148 West 37th Street 13th Floor New York, NY 10018-6909 212.269.2984 www.nyasla.org

Comments from NYASLA Re: Temp. Parking Lot B1129, Atlantic Yards June 12, 2012


• • • • • • • • • •

541 parking spaces will be integrated into Lot B1129 24 spaces are for NYPD parking There will be no planted islands or trees within the parking lot There will be a 4-foot perimeter planter along the sidewalk faces of the parking lot There will be a perimeter fence along the parking lot The parking lot will be used for 200-225 arena events per year The parking lot is temporary but could remain as a parking lot for upwards of 25 years. Lot B1129 is exempt from meeting City Planning Parking Lot guidelines due to its status as temporary lot The additional stormwater that is created is being mitigated with an underground detention tank There are no plans for green infrastructure within or along the parking lot

NYASLA additionally supports the Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP) – a proposal submitted by the Boerum Hill Association, the Park Slope Civic Council, and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, that would be implemented jointly by a) The State of New York through the Empire State Development Corporation, b) the City of New York through various City Departments and agencies, and c) Forest City Ratner Companies and its affiliates including Atlantic Yards Development Company, LLC and Brooklyn Arena, LLC. NYASLA agrees that the NPP is needed because, as outlined in the NPP proposal, “The Technical Memorandum dated June 2009 and the Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments for the Atlantic Yards Project dated as of December 21, 2009, only minimally address mitigation of the operation of the arena on adjacent neighborhoods.” More specifically, NYASLA outlines below three areas of concern that we ask FCRC to consider as part of an initiative to revise the current designs for Lot B1129. These points are based on ASLA’s national policies, available in complete form at http://asla.org/governmentaffairs.aspx. VEGETATION IN THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT Policy: NYASLA believes that the appropriate incorporation of vegetation in the built environment is a major influence on the quality of human life and in creating a healthy environment. Trees, shrubs, herbaceous, and aquatic plants filter pollutants in the air and water, mitigate wind and reduce solar heat gain, and stabilize soil to prevent or reduce erosion. These plants also create animal habitat, help filter and absorb stormwater runoff, and may help mitigate carbon emissions. Efficient use of plants can reduce energy needs. Plants provide an effective counterpoint to the built environment and create places of beauty. The cumulative effects of these attributes are essential to balancing the effects of humans on the land. Furthermore, the native plant communities of a region provide some of the strongest cues to the unique identity of a place and generally require less maintenance and irrigation. The replacement of an existing pervious gravel surface with an impervious asphalt surface will increase the temperature of the parking lot area and the surrounding neighborhood. This could lead to an increase in the use of energy, and its associated costs, for the adjacent neighbors. Even more

Comments from NYASLA Re: Temp. Parking Lot B1129, Atlantic Yards June 12, 2012


concerning is the increase in carbon dioxide that will be created with the increase in vehicular traffic and with the accumulation of over 500 cars concentrated in one area. Without trees to sequester the carbon, this neighborhood will be subject to potentially dangerous long-term health issues. Recommendation: NYASLA recommends that the Department of City Planning Parking Lot Regulations be integrated into the revised designs for the Lot B1129. That will ensure the addition of vegetation and will provide inclusion of green infrastructure systems. NYASLA recommends that the planter along the perimeter of the parking lot be extended to 7 feet to be able to include trees and more vegetation diversity. We recommend that FCRC work with local organizations and the Million Trees initiative to create an urban forestry plan that will include an appropriate number of trees both within and along the perimeter of the site as well as the care and maintenance of the trees for the duration of the parking lot. WATER QUALITY AND CONSERVATION Policy: NYASLA urges efficient use of available water supplies, equitable allocation of water resources, and the provision of safe drinking water. We encourage land use practices that conserve and protect water resources and related ecosystems and eliminate all forms of water pollution. While the integration of a detention tank system will mitigate some of the harmful effects of additional stormwater to our waterways and aging water infrastructure, there are other missed opportunities as a result of using this gray infrastructure technique, as opposed to or in addition to green infrastructure. Water is not being used as resource. The excess water could be used to irrigate plants within the parking lot and along the perimeter. Additionally the detained water, as proposed, will not be able to be directed through the soil and vegetation to recharge ground water, filter through natural cleansing systems and maintain the base flows of streams. Recommendation: NYASLA recommends that a green infrastructure strategy be created for Lot B1129. The green infrastructure strategy will include a plan for conserving rainwater for irrigation use for the site. The green infrastructure plan will also include rain gardens as part of the planting plan for the interior and perimeter of the lot. LIVABLE COMMUNITIES Policy: NYASLA believes that communities are more livable when they respect ecological and cultural systems, promote economic development, strive for social equity, and provide places for positive social interaction. The design of the parking lot, as proposed, will increase neighborhood ambient temperatures, will create more air pollution, does not provide any cultural or ecological amenity, requires additional energy input, and is unsightly. At 144,510 square feet (or approximately two city blocks), this is no small matter. As a parking lot, it will serve the function of providing parking during approximately 225 arena events per year. If each event uses the lot for 4 hours, at 225 x 4 = 900 hours/year, out of 8760

Comments from NYASLA Re: Temp. Parking Lot B1129, Atlantic Yards June 12, 2012


total hours in the year, that is about 10% (much of it in the evenings). During the other hours and days the site will sit empty, heating the air and shedding water. We are concerned about how the site can be used over the other 90% of the time. It is unacceptable to propose and construct a lot of this size that does not also “give back” to the community and the environment. Recommendation: In addition to the recommendations above that address environmental sustainability, NYASLA recommends that FCRC work closely with the adjacent neighborhood organizations and with local city officials to facilitate the programming of events that can be accommodated within the parking lot. Events could include farmer’s markets, street fairs, performances, a cycle track, etc. SUMMARY In summary, we ask that FCRC revise the design of Lot B1129 to address the above-mentioned concerns. At a minimum we advise that Lot B1129 be required to meet the Department of City Planning Parking Lot Regulations that would include planting within the lot and an increase in the perimeter planter from 4 feet to 7 feet. In 2007, Major Bloomberg released PlaNYC, an effort to strengthen the economy, combat climate change, and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers. The plan brought together over 25 City agencies to work toward the vision of a greener, greater New York. Shortly after, also in 2007, the City Planning Commission adopted the Design Standards for Commercial and Community Facility Parking Lots. These standards were created as a direct tactic to achieve the important sustainability goals that are part of the Mayor’s PlaNYC 2030 proposal. The standards specifically address reducing the urban heat island effect, achieving cleaner air quality through the planting of shade trees, the efficient management of stormwater runoff, and the visual improvement of the aesthetics of large parking lots. In 2010, three additional plans were created to improve the ecological and cultural systems of our city. The NYC Department of Environmental Protection released the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan to provide a sustainable strategy for cleaning our waterways; the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation released the High Performance Landscape Guidelines for 21st Century Parks for NYC and the Mayor’s office, in collaboration with the Departments of Design and Construction, Health and Mental Hygiene, Transportation; and the Department of City Planning published Active Design Guidelines: Promoting Physical Activity and Health in Design. The proposed design for Lot B1129 completely disregards any of the recommendations, standards, and guidelines outlined in these texts. As one of the major projects underway in our city at this time, overseen by a public agency, this should be an example of how to do this right, rather than an exception to the agreed-upon initiatives. Our city has made great strides towards making decisions that are better for our communities and our environment. It is unacceptable that a project as large as this parking lot ignores the smart, strategic recommendations of these plans. Through the creation of the Barclays Center Neighborhood Protection Plan (NPP) along with continued consultation with local residents, workers, and organizations such as NYASLA, we believe a new design can be created that meets the FCRC needs for arena parking and contributes to a greener and better New York City.

Comments from NYASLA Re: Temp. Parking Lot B1129, Atlantic Yards June 12, 2012


On behalf of NYASLA’s Board of Directors, thank you for considering these comments and suggestions intended to help protect public health, safety and welfare. We look forward to working with you and all stakeholders towards implementing these ideas. Yours truly,

Denisha Williams, President

Tricia Martin, Past-President, Policy Committee

Cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo Mayor Michael Bloomberg Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz New York City Council Member Letitia James New York City Council Member Stephen Levin State Senator Velmanette Montgomery Assembly Member Hakeem Jeffries New York City Department of City Planning, Commissioner Amanda Burden New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Commissioner Carter Strickland New York City Department of Buildings, Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Commissioner Adrian Benepe New York City Department of Transportation, Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan Forest City Ratner Corporation, Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin Community Board 8, Chairperson Nizjoni Granville

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