Friday, December 28, 2007

Burg's Fart Cloud Building Mess To "Get a Lot Worse"

5 Roebling Repairs

We swung by the atrocious demolition site at 5 Roebling Street in Williamsburg formerly known as the Giant Fart Cloud Building and found a busy situation. Workers were patching a wall of a neighboring building that had been damaged during demolition. We watched a huge trailer pull in and hoist a dumpster until it stood nearly two stories in the air and then drop it with such force that the ground shook across the street. All in a day's work, allowed to continue with a wink and a nod, we suppose. We got the following email from blogger Bad Advice, who has chronicled much of the awfulness of living next to a Wild West demolition site. It concerns a visit from a DOB inspector. The good news is that the DOB cared enough about the situation to send someone. The bad news is that he basically told her that she and her neighbors are screwed. Here it is:
So yesterday I'm home and my buzzer rings. I go downstairs to answer the door and it's a Department of Buildings inspector! I was so excited! Christmas came late, but that's okay. Or not. He tells me he has a report of the building shaking, cracks in the wall and apartments filled with dust. I try to get him into my two first-floor neighbors' apartments, but neither are home, so I tell him what happened. Anyway, I'm so excited to see someone from the DOB that I told him all we've been going through, how horrible it's been and how MMG [the demolition contractor] is doing all this illegal stuff and nobody seems to care.

He says there's no proof of that. I tell him that I have video of them using a backhoe for demolition. He starts to back away, obviously not wanting to deal. I remind him that video is proof and he's welcome to it. He tells me that I should look on the website and maybe there's somewhere there that'll tell me where to send it because it's no good to him. He needs proof.

I ask him if there's anything we can do when they're working at night or on weekends or jeopardizing our building's structure. He seriously advises me to call 311. WTF? So I just start laughing and ask him how effective that is when they send an inspector four days after the fact and refuse to even look at any proof of wrongdoing. The guy is acting like I'm a mental case! I need to point out that I was completely pleasant and was more amused at his obvious discomfort at actually having to do his job than anything approaching anger.

So I look on the DOB website today and all the complaints are marked as resolved. His parting comment to me was, "It's going to get a LOT worse."
Therein is the crux of the conundrum. DOB requires "proof" of illegal work or violations. Yet, they lack the resources to develop such "proof." Hence, developers and contractors, in effect, are granted carte blanche to violate laws and regulations at will, because lacking an inspector on site during work hours and unable to respond to anything but complaints involving threats to safety and building stability in a timely way, there is never "proof." Catch 22, anyone?

If it's going to get "a lot worse," we'll be doing a lot of writing about what we will probably dub the "Williamsburg Building from Hell" in 2008, unless the DOB takes action and refuses to issue permits for a site that its own inspector indicates will "get a lot worse" in terms of doing serious violence to the quality of life of neighbors.

5 Roebling Dumpster

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

hire a lawyer.

9:25 AM  
Blogger nomadnewyork said...

Those folks on 16th street in park slope did it and I guess that they won since their web site is down.

10:49 AM  
Blogger gary said...

Sadly, the advice from anonymous is right. Hire a lawyer and force the city to enforce the law.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, hire a lawyer or start packing.

11:43 PM  
Anonymous kate said...

this is insane. and yes, i think it's time for the folks in the pink building to hire a lawyer.

11:24 AM  

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