Thursday, July 11, 2013

Is Lightstone Group Tearing Down Gowanus Building On Development Site Without Proper Permits?

photo credit:Jeff Anzulewicz

Meanwhile, back in Gowanus...
I am still in France but have received a string of emails from Gowanus residents reporting that workers began tearing down the roof of an old brick building at 363-365 Bond Street, between 1st and 2nd Street yesterday. The building is located on the site of the 700-unit, 12 story Lightstone Group development.

According to reports, a crew of about 25 men with pick axes and saws started demolishing the rooftop of the building yesterday afternoon. Gowanus residents became concerned when they realized that no permits had been posted. More troubling was the fact that no asbestos monitoring equipment was present on site and the crew did not wear any protective gear.

Residents contacted Councilman Brad Lander's office and Community Board 6 to ask that the work be done according to local laws, with proper permits, and proper protections for workers and the local community. They also placed several calls to 311. Inspectors came out to the site later in the day and work stopped yesterday afternoon at about 2 pm.
Today, a crew was back building a plywood fence around part of the building. In addition, red and yellow caution tape with the words "Danger-Asbestos" has been put up.
NYC Department of Buildings has recorded a 'pre-filing' for the site on its web site. A permit for a plywood fence has also been recorded. There is, however, no sign of a demolition permit.

In addition, Lightstone has applied for the NY State  Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program. The program requires that any action on the site be first approved by the agency. It is likely that demolition work would also need to be approved.

This not a very good start for Lightstone Group and its highly contentious project.  Stay tuned for's bound to be a long hot summer in Gowanus.


Gowanee said...

Asbestos is very serious stuff, A quick Google and you will see that even short exposure to it is detrimental to your lungs. And it is airborne as well. That is why is is manadatory to work under controlled conditions to remove it. Lightstone was not going to use union workers if Inremember correctly. I can't see union workers agreeing to expose themselves to asbestos. This does not speak well for how Lightsone treats Gowanus, the air, the residents, the workers, the environment. Thank you to all in the neighborhood who have been so vigilant. It is the community looking after itself. Lightsone, pay heed!

Jim said...

Jogged by the building this morning (I live on 3rd and Bond) and didn't see the plywood fence around any part of the building or the red and yellow caution tape with the words "Danger-Asbestos."

Anonymous said...

I've seen this on other demo's in NY -- a crew comes in quick to deal with an asbestos work without a permit. Then they get a permit and can proceed with an easier, non-asbestos demo. Not saying that's what's happening here, but if it happens once, it will happen again.

James said...

Senator Montgomery's office recieved a call about this demolition last Wednesday and we immediately contacted the DEP. They checked their records and determined that no permit for the action had been issued, sent out a team, and shut things down within 3 hours.

DEP says, surprisingly, that there are no exact requirements for protective wear for workers during asbestos abatement: those are union rules. However there must be clear postings warning the community. There is also no special asbestos abatement permit necessary, just the community postings. As soon as those postings were in place abatement was allowed to resume the next day.

Thank you to all the community members who are providing clearly necessary oversight on this operation. When you see something that looks a little less than kosher (or in this case, A LOT!) please reach out to the Senator's office at 718-643-6140.

Jim Vogel, office of NYS Senator Velmanette Montgomery, 25th District

Jim said...

I stand corrected. The plywood fence is up. A nice blue. The perfect canvas for taggers.

Anonymous said...

Well no surprise that Lightstone's slimy behavior has started. Asbestos is a very serious carcinogen especialy when airborne. Thank you King Bloomberg for pushing this in our face!!!. To all those Brooklyn newbies that support this project I guess you are immune to Lung cancer.... This project needs to stop. Call 311 every time you see something... King Bloomberg won't stop helping his buddies until the day he leaves office

Detale said...

@Gowanee You are right for the most part. I am a union carpenter and am certified to handle asbestos removal.

The problem with asbestos is that it can take up to 30 years to show up on a test or even affect you. You don't get sick right away from it so you don't know you've been exposed. Have you ever seen that "gray stuff" that looks like asbestos on the exposed ceiling or steel beams? Well that's something called monokote and its the EXACT same mineral as asbestos but processed differently. Asbestos fibers are basically shaped like a Christmas tree, monokote fibers are the same but split down the middle. Monokote is illegal everywhere in Europe, California and even Mexico...MEXICO!!! You can watch a "donkey show" there but you can't use monokote! Somehow our government thinks we're immune on the east coast, go figure. We will see a new rash of illnesses in years to come from monokote, same as asbestos.

Also it can potentially stay airborne indefinitely. Under controlled (a clear tube) situations it takes a single asbestos fiber 3 days to fall 14 feet with no wind! When the trade center fell it released a shitload of asbestos into the air that could be circulating around us all for many many years.

It's now become very hard for the EPA, or anyone for that matter, to prove where the asbestos came from if it pollutes the air around a removal site. so basically no one cares, and those that do can't do anything about it really.

Definitely call 311 and report it if anyone sees what they think to be asbestos being handled. When it is removed properly the general public can't see it at all. It needs to be handled inside a "tent" built just for the removal process so you shouldn't see anything other than a white plastic tent with no idea whats going on in there. Bags labeled "asbestos" are not legit and should be reported immediately. If you can read the word asbestos you're too close and the removal isn't being handled correctly.

A call to 311 will have someone out to the site usually within a half hour, I've called a few times and they DO come believe it or not. At least the city will ticket them or maybe even stop the work for a while.