Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

For 8 years I’ve been tortured by construction going on outside my window. One building after another on East 51st, which my apartment faces, has been knocked down and built up since 2000. Drilling, clanking, banging and trucks beeping is the music I write to, eat with, try to ignore when I want to relax and get wake to at 7AM, every day. This morning it was 7:30. There’s no mercy on weekends!

Today there was a tragic example of how construction companies get preference over the welfare of New York City’s residents.

The very tall crane used on a building going up at 303 East 51nd Street, diagonally across from my windows, crashed across the street, smashing a small apartment building. It was 10 minutes after I’d left to go to brunch. I’m grateful I wasn’t here to see it happen. My neighbor did. She looked out just as it fell, and saw the crane crush 2 construction workers. Four people are confirmed dead. Other injured.

Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer said there are at least 13 unresolved violations against this building. Yet it continued to go up and up and up, endangering a residential neighborhood.

I see it right out my window. The pics above were taken from my bedroom. They’re still looking for possible bodies and there may be people in the building hit by the crane that still need to be rescued. My neighborhood is a war zone. My cross street, Second Ave., is closed from 49th St. to 53rd, as are the streets. I’m on 52nd and have to show ID to get onto my block and must walk well out of my way to go anywhere. The streets are lined with fire trucks and ambulances. Police dot every inch for blocks.

For years it’s seemed like the construction companies rule. They do as they please, ignoring time limits on making noise and sliding on violations. Loading in supplies with loud beeping as early as 5AM. Basically doing whatever suits them to get their buildings up as fast as possible, with the city’s blessing. To me, silence is giving permission. And since the violations have continued for many years, the city must be silent in enforcing the laws since the work never stops. That’s giving permission!

We complain when they work till midnight. Operators at 311 take complaints that go into a big black hole of no responses.

Last July Mayor Bloomberg had a big media show about the new noise laws to improve our quality of life. I rejoiced, until I found out he actually extended the hours for construction in residential neighborhoods, to begin at 7AM, even on the weekend. I’d love to know how that’s supposed to improve my life?! I’ve been living with increasing anxiety from being woken up at 7, every day and listening to the cacophony of drilling, banging, clanking and beeping as I try to write.

We used to get a break on weekends, but now Bloomberg gives everyone permits for Saturday and even some Sundays, which gives me no chance to decompress and heal.

The building crane crash and loss of lives may have been prevented if the city played hardball with the construction companies. They need to start enforcing codes. And, the city needs to put the residents needs ahead of getting buildings up at high speed. My quality of life has deteriorated. A neighbor is on Paxil because of it. I’m trying to stay sane. And now this latest tragedy has unnerved me more. It could have been me under that crane.

It’s ironic b/c I planned to go to my vegetable stand before going to have brunch. But since the construction on that building woke me so early, I was very hungry and decided to go after. Had I gone first, I’d have been right where it crashed at that time.

I had a bad feeling about that building. It was a small one before they leveled it. Now they were up to 20 floors and I heard today it was slated for 40. Forty floors in a very skinny building! I sometimes looked out my window and got chills as I tried to see the top. I couldn’t imagine how it could be safe to work at those heights, since the building is so narrow.

I’d tell people it scared me. They’d laugh when I actually tried to figure out whether it could hit my window if it fell. My gut felt it coming. Today friends called to see if I was okay, and ask if the crash was from the building I worried about. Wish it didn’t take this tragedy to make my point.

I’ll end this post as I began it—Shame on you New York City—for putting the economy about the safety and quality of lives of the people who live here.I pray that politicians take a stand on doing more regulating, though I sadly don’t expect much change. May God rest the souls of the people who lost their lives rest today.

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