Deadly silence? Officials have had one e-mail exchange over Yards security

New LIRR terminal is a monument to fear and paranoia
The new Long Island Rail Road terminal on Flatbush Avenue is ringed by huge granite coffins.
The Brooklyn Paper / Barry Shifrin

Is it possible that state officials have had just a single e-mail exchange regarding securing the outside of the Barclays Center arena in the heart of Brooklyn?

It seems unlikely — given 9-11, given the seven years since the project’s unveiling, given the so-called War on Terror, and given that this year, the Long Island Rail Road admitted that it ringed its new terminal across the street with an oversized anti-terror perimeter because it is necessary “in this day and age.”

Yet the Empire State Development Corporation claims that its officials have had just one e-mail exchange over security outside the proposed 18,000-seat arena.

The Brooklyn Paper received the e-mails — with all nine lines of text fully redacted — in response to a “Freedom of Information Law” request seeking “any and all internal documents pertaining to exterior security designs at the Barclays Center.”

Explaining the redaction, the quasi-state organization said in a statement that “it is the ESDC’s determination that certain responsive information contained in the document is exempt from disclosure.”

The exchange was initiated on Nov. 13, 2007, by senior counsel Joseph Petrillo in an e-mail to a number of officials, including Jennifer Maldonado, the former director of intergovernmental relations; Susan Rahm, an unpaid, lawyer/volunteer; Rachel Shatz, currently director of planning and environmental review; Edouard Decatrel, director of architecture and engineering design and construction; Steven Matlin, another senior counsel; and Darren Bloch, currently the executive vice president of strategy, policy and public affairs.

Only Maldinado responded.

ESDC spokesman Warner Johnston maintained that the lone e-mail exchange was indeed all the internal communications regarding security measures at the Barclays Center.

The request for information stemmed from the controversy over the bollards at the new Long Island Rail Road terminal at Flatbush Avenue and Hanson Place, which would serve the sports fans attending Brooklyn Nets games at the Barclays Center, should it ever be built.

The tomb-like bollards — which exceed NYPD counter-terrorism standards, and have been decried as ugly — raised the question of whether similar measures would be taken at the Barclays Center.

After our online version of this story was first published on Wednesday, Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) expressed outrage.

“If this e-mail is truly the only correspondence … about security, it would be an astounding abrogation of public trust,” Lander said. “In any case, this points to a critical gap in development policy in New York City, which is why, I initiated the process to develop legislation that would require strategically significant sites to work with the NYPD on security plans as part of building and zoning approvals.”

A FOIL request about security planning at the Atlantic Yards project led to the release of this single-page document. Helpful, huh?

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