The Barclays Center, the two malls, the street level of the LIRR and the subway , if the City Council does not oppose the plan, Councilwoman Letitia James said during a meeting with the precinct’s Commanding Officer and area residents on Wednesday night.
The 78th Precinct’s , , taking away turf from the 77th and 88th precincts.
The new section added to the precinct’s borders will be a triangular area that hops over Flatbush Avenue and go until Hanson Place, up to Vanderbilt Avenue until Grand Army Plaza, across Plaza Street East and back to Flatbush Avenue.
But the biggest concern for the NYPD, the precinct’s Commanding Officer, Captain Michael Ameri said, will not be the crowd of 18,000 people during concerts and games at .
“The crowd size is not a concern to me,” Captain Ameri said during the meeting at his stationhouse, explaining that he used to police Citi Field in Queens, the U.S. Open and recently in Park Slope has successfully controlled crowds in Prospect Park ranging from 4,000 to 20,000 people. “Rest assured that 15,000 to 18,000 is not too much for us to handle.”
But, the traffic and parking, Ameri said, is going to be a problem.
“To be honest with you, that's my biggest concern with this arena is traffic,” he said to a room filled with about 60 residents from Park Slope, Fort Green and Prospect Heights. “We will have beyond sufficient number of traffic agents and we will pull cars away from the arena so cars close to the area can leave.”
A St. Felix Street resident asked how police would differentiate locals between visitors and prevent visitors from loitering and sitting on stoops in the residential neighborhoods around the arena.
“I'm not in the business of shooing people away. Are we going to funnel them to proper exits and egresses and funnel them towards subway stations and parking garages? Yes. Will I deploy officers to those areas? Yes,” Ameri said, who later explained that Forest City Ratner will have 18 pedestrian managers to help move people along and out of the area. “If they live there or don’t live there, they have the right to be there.”
In terms of vehicle traffic and parking, Ameri said that they would not close down any streets.
“As of right now, there’s no intent of changing traffic patterns,” Ameri said.
A Hanson Place resident asked if police will funnel traffic to “main arteries” and prevent them from driving around residential and side streets to try and find parking.
“When it comes to parking and residential traffic, that’s going to be a problem. I can’t tell you that I can prevent people from pulling up on your street or parking on your block,” Ameri said, adding that it’s a difficult question to answer. He does, however, have a plan for livery cabs, limos and buses to drop people off near the arena and then park elsewhere, like the Navy Yard and industrial areas nearby.
Councilwoman James (D-Fort Greene) said that when she and Councilman Stephen Levin passed a resolution in City Council to urge the state legislature to pass a residential parking permit program for the community the Department of Transportation did a study. DOT’s study stated that in Fort Greene, Park Slope and Prospect Heights to accommodate all of the cars coming in for the arena and no parking permit program was needed.
“Councilmember Levin and I said it was ridiculous and [DOT’s] report is worthless,” James said, explaining that DOT’s report was all speculation since the arena is not open yet. “We have to wait and see. I asked them to come back with another report in January and I believe at that point in time it will confirm our worst suspicions and we will be entitled to a residential parking permit.”
Another resident suggested increased enforcement for traffic and parking.
“We will set the tone early — we will flood the area with traffic agents and tow trucks. We want the word out that if you break the law, you’ll not only get a ticket, but you’ll get towed,” Ameri said, explaining that on opening day tow trucks will be there. “Once the word is out that you’ll get towed, people will be scared.”
When asked how many more cops will come to the 78th Precinct to help police the arena and surrounding area, Ameri declined to give a hard number or say where the added officers will come from.
“Impact officers were already released to my precinct and I am over staffed from last year,” Ameri said, explaining that he will give out concrete numbers closer to Barclays’ open date. “But we will be ready to police the arena come the first event.”
Another concern of the crowd was how their quality of life will be affected by inebriated event-goers.
Ameri said that at the beginning of the fourth quarter during all NBA games and an hour before the end of concerts. However, the arena’s food and beverage proprietor, Levy Restaurants LLC, is applying for a liquor license with the State Liquor Authority inside the three clubs. But Ameri said that the clubs are expensive “premiere” establishments and “higher than VIP,” so the majority of ticketholders will not be drinking until 2 a.m.
“There will be changes to people’s quality of life when the arena comes, but we will step up enforcement,” Ameri said.