Residents harassed by construction

Extra hours of sleep on weekends are not a possibility for residents on 67th Place off of 70th Avenue in Ridgewood, due to a disruptive construction project on the block, speakers said during a public comment period at a Community Board 5 meeting last week.
The 60-year-old building at 70-20 67th Street is an abandoned factory, said neighbor Gary Jannazzio, who spoke at the meeting.
According to the Department of Buildings (DOB) Web site, the project’s most recent construction permits expired in 2004. The building has 19 complaints and 17 violations listed on the site.
The most recent complaint is from Christmas Eve, and states that demolition was being executed without proper permits. According to the complaint, an inspector was sent to the building but couldn’t gain entry.
“Weekends, night time, Christmas Eve, they’re there banging away and nothing gets done,” Jannazzio said.
He said he’s seen the city put stop-work orders on the building, but workers ignore them. He also saw officers from the 104th Precinct issue harassment summonses on the premises, but the construction hasn’t stopped.
Jannazzio said he witnessed workers removing the building’s roof by taking pieces and throwing them to the ground.
“They decide they’re just going take it and throw it off the roof,” he said, “take wheelbarrows with the dust and heave it over the side of the building.”
A 60-year-old building is bound to have asbestos, he added.
“For weeks I can’t open my windows, my kids can’t play in the yard,” Jannazzio said.
Community Board 5 Chair Vinnie Arcuri said the board got involved in the issue in 2003.
“There were no [DOB] permits issued for work over there,” which specify operation hours and restrictions, Arcuri said.
Although he said asbestos abatement permits were issued by the city Department of Economic Preservation (DEP), board members witnessed asbestos abatement occurring without proper hazardous materials protection.
When the board contacted DEP, Arcuri said, an inspector came to the building, which resulted in a phone call to police.
“She was harassed by the workers, that generated the call to 911, and an executive officer showed up and emptied the building out,” Arcuri said.
Construction at the building resumed by the next week, he said.
Arcuri said he sent a letter to the DOB commissioner on December 28 asking for information about the construction, but hasn’t heard back.
Nick Desocio, who spoke at the meeting with Jannazzio, said he spoke with a DEP inspector who came to the building, but was shrugged off.
“We can’t open our windows – asbestos stays in the air for 30 days without falling down,” Desocio said. He added, “Sunday morning, want to catch an extra hour or two [of sleep]? Forget it, you have to hear hammering and chiseling on a wall.”
In a phone interview on Monday, January 16, Desocio said he heard construction happening in the basement over the weekend. However, when this newspaper visited the site earlier that morning, it was quiet.
An architect listed on the DOB Web site gave a number for an owner of the building, but several calls to the number were not returned.

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