Friday, July 06, 2007

Awaiting the AY ombudsperson, as the Ward Bakery work resumes

Nearly two months ago, on May 7, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) announced "new oversight measures" for the Atlantic Yards project. Among them:
ESDC intends to hire an Atlantic Yards ombudsperson who will work as a full-time liaison between ESDC, elected officials, community representatives and the general public. The ombudsperson will ensure that residents remain in the loop, and that community concerns receive proper attention.

But no ombudsperson has yet been hired. Why? ESDC spokesman A.J. Carter responded in a statement, "Since this administration took office Jan. 1, we have focused not just on filling jobs, but on filling them with the right people. We are in the final stages of the process and expect to have the ombudsperson hired soon.”

New concerns

On Tuesday, Metro reported that residents of Dean Street were concerned about the resumption this week of abatement and demolition work (as per ESDC announcement) at the Ward Bakery, where a 200-foot stretch of parapet fell in late April, alarming neighbors and causing the evacuation of an adjacent building. “Logic would suggest they should wait until the ombudsman is in place,” said Peter Krashes, president of the Dean Street Block Association, told the newspaper.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn pointed out that the work had resumed, even though, after the incident, the ESDC and developer Forest City Ratner agreed that FCR would "temporarily suspend all abatement and demolition activities until the City's Department of Buildings [DOB] concludes its preliminary investigation or the City directs us otherwise."

DOB statement

So, has the City directed otherwise? On Monday, the DOB issued a statement:

Earlier today, the Buildings Department lifted the Stop Work Order that was issued after the partial collapse of the parapet wall at the Wards Bakery building at 800 Pacific Street.

The decision to allow abatement of the parapet operations to proceed comes after the Department approved the developer’s plan to ensure public safety during construction operations.

As part of the plan, the developer will institute new protective measures, such as additional site safety engineers to oversee demolition operations and the installation of sidewalk sheds and netting at all abatement and demolition sites. The plan also calls for the installation of optical survey monitors on all buildings undergoing abatement and demolition, as well as on the occupied buildings next door, within the Atlantic Yards development. In addition, the developer has revised its means and methods plan for abatement and demolition operations to ensure the sequence of both types of work do not interfere with one another.

(Emphasis added)

The building owner’s engineer has notified the Department that removal of the parapet wall will begin this week. To ensure safe abatement and disposal of demolition waste, the Buildings Department has issued after-hours variances to allow abatement work to continue until 9 p.m. during the weekdays.

The investigation into the cause of the parapet collapse continues.


A clue emerges?

The bolded statement above, in which the developer pledges to ensure that abatement and demolition do not interfere with one another, suggests a possible clue regarding the earlier incident.

Did a hasty effort to accomplish too much lead to the fall of the parapet? Perhaps the investigation will explain. The imposition of the "new protective measures" implies that the previous procedures lacked such measures.

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