After more than six months of searching for the perfect candidate for the job (and after three people had refused offers), an ombudsman for the Atlantic Yards project has finally been found: Forrest R. Taylor, a communications and government relations consultant who worked as chief of staff to former City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and as deputy executive director for operations at the MTA. One word of advice to Mr. Taylor: Duck!
Press release below.
ESDC HIRES ATLANTIC YARDS OMBUDSPERSON
ESDC furthers commitment to increased oversight and information flow
Furthering its commitment to increased oversight and improved information flow at the Atlantic Yards project, the Empire State Development Corporation today announced it has hired Forrest R. Taylor as project ombudsperson.
Mr. Taylor, who has a long and distinguished background in the public and private sectors, will be the dedicated project coordinator and liaison between ESDC, elected officials, community representatives and the public.
“Understanding and addressing the community’s concerns are a high priority for this administration. We believe this important development project will help transform Brooklyn by bringing much-needed housing, transit improvements, open space and jobs to the downtown area,” said Avi Schick, President and COO of ESDC. “Forrest’s background in government, transportation and community affairs makes him ideally suited to provide the public with direct information and direct access to the state and the developer.”
Most recently, Mr. Taylor served as manager of Prowess Initiatives and Analysis, a boutique firm advising corporate clients on government relations and corporate communications. He has also held a number of government posts, including chief of staff to the City Council president, deputy executive director for operations for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and chief of staff for the deputy mayor for finance and economic development.
“This ombudsman position provides an opportunity for me to draw on all of my experiences in and out of government and is an exciting next step forward in the State’s effort to increase the public’s connection to this important and transformative project. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to insure the community has access to current information and swift responses to questions and concerns,” Mr. Taylor said.
Mr. Taylor, who assumed his post on Monday, will be based in a to-be-established office in the Atlantic Yards project area, providing easy access for local officials and community members. As ombudsman Mr. Taylor will oversee the project schedule and activities and meet with elected officials and community groups to brief them on process, activities and timetables. Mr. Taylor will also be tasked with relaying and working through public concerns with the proper administrative agencies.