Between The Bridges

Back in April of last year, work on the street raising/new bulkhead installations on West 11th and 12th Roads were suspended "indefinitely" to allow the City's Build it Back (BiB) program access to those same streets in order to raise/rebuild homes.  At a transition meeting prior to the turnover it was made crystal clear to the Build it Back "powers that be" that there would be multiple families who are not part of the Build it Back operation who would continue to reside in their homes on both streets. 

At that time, it was stressed to BiB that their  contractor staff 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.) 

Build it Back (BiB) Chief Operating Officer Lou Mendes was present at this meeting and provided assurances that the multi-contractor operations on these streets, involving some 30 plus homes, would be sufficiently supervised in order to obviate or otherwise promptly address any problems or concerns on the part of these remaining residents caused by BiB contractor staff and/or operations.

As it turned out, Mr. Mendes' "assurances" amoun­ted to nothing more than a bunch of malarkey as shortly after the take-over of the affected streets the various contractors (at least on West 12th Road) went about their business at various homes all along the street with little or no courtesy or consideration for those few remaining residents still living on the block.  Initially, we tried to address these concerns by speaking with the various contractors on the block  but, unfortunately, our attempts to politely deal with some of these individuals left us with the annoying feeling that there are some contractors who apparently think they don't have to interact with residents still living on the street, with anything more than lip service. 

Our complaints and concerns in this regard were then raised to the level of BiB senior staff, and the Office of the Queens Borough President.  We advised them that our experience with the entire Build it Back Contractor Circus on the street was not unlike the end of the DreamWorks 2005 film, Madagascar, where the penguins simply lie about on the beach ignoring all the other animals attempting to leave the island with the attitude of "Smile and wave boys, smile and wave!"  To their credit, they did take notice and quickly assigned a "street activity coordinator" whose sole job was to tour the BiB affected streets in order to be present and available to immediately address any and all resident-related problems and concerns.  The number of contractor-related problems dropped dramatically with the assignment of this street coordinator and for a period of time, all was right with the world.

Unfortunately, Mr. Murphy and his really annoying law, saw our street activity coordinator injured and depart on medical leave with no replacement.  Guess what?  The penguins were soon back in force "smiling and waving" and, not surprisingly, the number of contractor/resident-related issues immediately started climbing again.      Scheduled sanitation pick-ups were missed because of contractor-related street blockages and lengthy street blockages became once again routine due to contractor equipment being parked and left in the middle of the road.  Coordination between the various individual BiB contractors was almost non-existent as evidenced by the absence of an assigned flag man at the top of the block to coordinate vehicle access on and off the street. This resulted in dumpster, concrete, and flatbed material trucks, as well as homeowners' private vehicles waiting inordinate periods of time to access or egress the street.  You haven't lived until you have finally convinced a contractor at the bay end of the block to do you the courtesy of moving his van or truck to allow you to drive up the street on your way to work, school, grocery shopping or a medical appointment only to see a large concrete truck suddenly backing down the top of the street with no flag man and the driver depending solely on his rear view mirror only to stop midway in the middle of the road and begin an hour-long concrete pour!

Our concerns were once again addressed to the BiB higher-ups advising that despite the street activity coordinator's absence on medical leave, we saw no excuse for the City to allow these BiB contractors to revert to their rude and extremely inconsiderate habit of impeding street access for residents at their leisure.  Once again, BiB has reacted by temporarily assigning yet another individual to fill in for the duties of the street activity coordinator until such time as he returns from medical leave.  Although greatly appreciated, BiB's response in this matter is clearly reactive in nature whereas a more proactive approach would have seen a continuance of street supervision to preclude these problems from rearing their annoying heads once again.

When it comes down to maintaining an awareness, consideration and common courtesy on the part of contractors for the impact of their work on those non-BiB residents living on the street, the difference between the DDC/EIC contractor's street raising and bulkhead operations and the present Build it Back operations on West 12th Road is as clear as day and night — EIC excelled at it while Build it Back continues to struggle with their contractor staff who appear either unwilling or unable to grasp the concept.

Broad Channel — why would anyone want to live anywhere else?

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