You think Councilman Ulrich is a tad bit upset with Mayor Bill de Blasio? At a recent City Council hearing, Ulrich was in rare form as he unloaded on the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency regarding the city's Build it Back Program as well as plan(s) for a study regarding beach erosion and sand replenishment in the Rockaway area, a program, the details of such, Ulrich very obviously felt the Mayor's Office was not exactly being forthcoming with.
"It's almost like we don't exist!...I don't appreciate it when I am ignored or when the Mayor's Office comes to the City Council and tells us that they have a great, grand, master plan and they don't keep anybody in the loop. Very disrespectful. Unappreciated." When the Mayor's Office staff stated that the Councilman had his facts wrong, Ulrich had the last word by stating, "You want to talk about facts, we'll have another hearing on facts and I'll rip you and the Mayor to shreds - any day, any time! Have a nice day." How's that for a closer?
Speaking of Build it Back, that program's track record of bureaucratic inaction, fueled by administrators who have somehow managed to figure out how to cut red tape sideways, has served to bring many a Broad Channel resident to tears while awaiting return to their homes. As bad as Build it Back has been to date for this displaced population of Sandy survivors, they have somehow now actually managed to anger residents of the Channel who are not even involved with the program.
Prior to the transition from EIC contractor staff who were working on the new bulkheads and raised streets on West 11th and 12th Road, to contractors from the city’s Build it Back Program back in April of this year, it was made crystal clear to staff from the Mayor’s Office Build it Back operation that there are multiple families who are not part of the Build it Back operation who will continue to reside in their homes on both streets while the work is being done. At that time it was stated that contractors must remain acutely aware of these remaining families and occupied properties and afford them a modicum of courtesy and consideration so as to not inordinately impact their day to day lives (parking, deliveries, street ingress/egress, driveway access, refuse removal, etc.)
That being said, immediately after Build It Back took over West 11th and 12th Roads in April to start elevation and rebuild work on some 35 properties, any semblance of the various BIB contractor staff "remaining acutely aware of these remaining families and occupied properties and afford them a modicum of courtesy and consideration so as to not inordinately impact their day to lives" was immediately set aside as they set about to work.
Active driveways are often times completely blocked...routine sanitation pick- ups have been missed and scheduled; home deliveries cancelled because of contractor street blockage...dumpsters, portable toilets and a myriad of other contractor-related materials have been placed directly in front of residents’ homes...a cable feed was intentionally cut by a contractor, who never notified anyone, effectively killing cable service on the entire west side of 12th Road for more than 50 hours...a resident's private vehicle parked directly in front of the house was struck and damaged by a contractor's excavator with no notice to the owner who was home at the time...many individual contractor’s staff park their personal vehicles in front of occupied properties without a second thought to the fact that they are effectively displacing parking for an occupied home...a central air unit was removed by a contractor from a property on 11th Road and intentionally placed in the pit under the newly-raised house where it sat half submerged in tidal waters until the owner noticed it during a weekend inspection of the property.
Recently when talking with some of the contractor staff about the above issues, I was told that perhaps we were all “over-reacting” to the work on the block because, and I quote, "...you guys probably never had to deal with construction activity of this magnitude before." After taking a deep breath I advised this gentleman that, prior to Build It Back gracing our street with their presence, our residents had already experienced more than two years of significant construction activity with EIC and other contractors constructing new bulkhead at the bay ends, as well as ripping up the entire length of the street for new infrastructure, along with many scheduled water and power outages, and then constructing a newly raised roadbed along the same length of road.
I also added that the difference between the EIC/DDC operation and the present Build it Back operation is one of an awareness of and consideration for the residents of the affected streets that their work impacts. EIC/DDC excelled at it, with an on-site and readily available Community Construction Liaison and providing residents with weekly work schedules (including concrete work) and other relevant information, as a means of maintaining solid and continual communication with all street residents.
On the other hand, Build it Back appears either unwilling or unable to grasp the above concept and simply goes about their business with various contractors and workers, each doing their own thing.
Although Mayor's Office staff has provided us with, on multiple occasions, multiple assurances that they will ensure BIB staff pay closer attention to these issues, one can only be reminded that the definition of insanity is repeating the same actions, over and over again, each time expecting a different result. When (if?) Build It Back ever completes its final elevation and/or rebuild, the program should be buried under some rich soil where it can serve as an inspiration to cabbage patch kids. I believe something similar was done with that other Mayor's Office gem, Rapid Repair, which is buried in a quarry somewhere upstate inspiring newborn pet rocks!
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