Sound and fury!

Res­i­dents slam loud, messy school re­hab

New York Daily News - - NEWS - BY REUVEN BLAU

Gramercy res­i­dents are fum­ing about a 19-month-old school con­struc­tion project that has turned the neigh­bor­hood into an un­bear­ably loud dump­ing ground, say­ing their near-daily com­plaints are rou­tinely ig­nored by the de Bla­sio ad­min­is­tra­tion and elected of­fi­cials.

The eye-ear-and-nose sore is Washington Irv­ing High School, whose fa­mous alums in­clude Whoopi Gold­berg and Joy Be­har, and where the city’s School Con­struc­tion Author­ity is in the midst of a $43 mil­lion over­haul, but has yet to come up with a proper plan to elim­i­nate the moun­tain of garbage bags gen­er­ated by the six schools us­ing the 1913 build­ing.

Though Depart­ment of San­i­ta­tion of­fi­cials have supplied the school with tilt­truck garbage cans with lids to keep out rats and other ver­min, staff at the 11-story school build­ing still dump trash bags in large open-air bins, in­fu­ri­ated res­i­dents say.

“There are nine city agen­cies work­ing on this and col­lec­tively they can’t fig­ure out how to put trash in a garbage can?” res­i­dent Julie Block railed. “It’s kind of shock­ing.”

“If it wasn’t so dis­gust­ing I’d go over there on a nightly ba­sis and do it my­self,” she added.

Block and other res­i­dents email pho­tos of the over­flow­ing garbage to a list of city of­fi­cials al­most daily. The Daily News has been in­cluded on the email chain over the past month.

The emails are rarely, if ever, an­swered.

“This should not be the com­mu­nity’s re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Block said.

School of­fi­cials told The News that the garbage is some­times tem­po­rar­ily placed out­side the con­tain­ers while it’s be­ing hauled out of the school. Ad­di­tion­ally, San­i­ta­tion Depart­ment garbage trucks make 14 stops at the school each week, in­clud­ing once each Satur­day.

And res­i­dents’ noise com­plaints haven’t been to­tally ig­nored. The city now stops con­struc­tion at 10 p.m., lim­its week­end work, and pro­vides reg­u­lar no­tice for street clos­ings and crane ac­tiv­ity.

The noise, how­ever, con­tin­ues to blare at night, res­i­dents say.

“I had to have my TV on vol­ume 42 to drown out the noise,” Block groused in an email last Wed­nes­day. “You keep telling us you’re in com­pli­ance with noise reg­u­la­tions, can you please show us a sin­gle in­de­pen­dent re­port that con­firms that?”

Con­struc­tion of­fi­cials say they’ve in­stalled noise-muf­fling blan­kets wher­ever pos­si­ble.

Gramercy res­i­dents also are awor­ried about dust from the site, sus­pi­cious it’s toxic and has caused health is­sues.

School of­fi­cials counter that the city’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion and an in­de­pen­dent mon­i­tor hired by the author­ity have com­pleted sev­eral in­spec­tions for dust, and no vi­o­la­tions have been is­sued.

Mean­while, res­i­dents have re­peat­edly asked for the re­ports, to no avail.

“We don’t be­lieve they ex­ist,” Block said. “There’s an en­vi­ron­men­tal prob­lem that no one is watch­ing.”

Block con­tends the con­struc­tion project is in vi­o­la­tion of mul­ti­ple city reg­u­la­tions.

Dur­ing a meet­ing at the Man­hat­tan Bor­ough Pres­i­dent’s of­fice in June, one san­i­ta­tion se­nior staffer told res­i­dents that de­part­ments re­spon­si­ble for en­forc­ing the rules are re­luc­tant to is­sue fines to other agen­cies.

“Why isn’t the SCA be­ing held to the same stan­dard as a pri­vate con­trac­tor?” Block asked. “Why have I had to spend close to 1,000 hours mon­i­tor­ing this project and en­sur­ing that it gets done in a safe man­ner?”

Block, a for­mer as­sis­tant Depart­ment of In­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sioner, has filed a com­plaint with her old agency.

SCA spokes­woman Is­abelle Boundy de­fended the city’s response to com­mu­nity com­plaints.

“Trash is a con­cern for all New York­ers, but the unique chal­lenge our neigh­bor­hood faces balanc­ing a ma­jor struc­tural re­pair…with the con­tin­u­ous oper­a­tion of six schools in the build­ing re­quires us to work closely with com­mu­nity mem­bers and city agen­cies,” she said.

“That is why we have con­ducted walk­throughs of the site and con­tinue to hold monthly calls” with mul­ti­ple in­volved par­ties, she added.


Washington Irv­ing H.S. cam­pus in Gramercy is un­der­go­ing a mas­sive ren­o­va­tion, but res­i­dents say the noise goes on un­til late at night and garbage (be­low) is not prop­erly dis­posed of de­spite nu­mer­ous com­plaints.


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