Janet Babin, Economic Development Reporter, WNYC News
Janet Babin is a reporter at WNYC covering economic development.
Residents concerned about traffic and congestion around the new soon-to-be-opened Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn have until Tuesday, July 3, to submit written comments to Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the project.
“These streets will just be absolutely clogged with on street parking, and the [transportation plan] doesn’t address that,” Gib Veconi said. He is with the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development council and complained there will be a lack of on street parking for the thousands who will drive to shows at the arena after it opens this fall.
According to surveys conducted by the project’s developer, Forest City Ratner, about 2,500 carloads are expected to drive to each Barclays Arena event — and there are 220 events so far scheduled at the arena during its first year in operation.
Empire State Development extended the comment period to give residents more time to respond. ESD said it’s confident that the neighborhood will be able to absorb the influx of visitors because many will take public transportation to the Prospect Heights facility.
“The goals of the transportation plan are to reduce the number of cars traveling to the arena and to maximize the use of mass transit. We are confident the plan will be effective” explained Arana Hankin, ESD’s Director for Atlantic Yards.
Hankin said even after the comment period closes, residents will have other chances to tell ESD if transportation or other issues arise.
ESD, the Borough President’s Office and Forest City Ratner are establishing a Quality of Life Committee comprised of community members to address the arena sticking points.
Hankin said Forest City Ratner is also hiring a full-time Community Affairs staffer to handle local concerns regarding all aspects of arena operations.
But Veconi, with the Prospect Heights NDC, said he will continue to push officials to create residential parking permits to reserve on-street spaces for residents. Residential parking permit programs, however, need permission from the state.
Comments and questions about transportation issues can be submitted to AtlanticYards@esd.ny.gov.