Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Whole Lot Of Noise, Shaking, Toxic Smells, And Traffic Jams At Lightstone Group's Mega Construction Site In Gowanus

Rendering Of Lightstone Group's 700-unit development at 363-365 Bond Street in Gowanus
Photo courtesy of Michael M.

The past few weeks have been hell for residents who live near the Lightstone Group's building site at 363-365 Bond Street between Carroll Street and 2nd Street. They have had to deal with noise, shaking, toxic smells and traffic jams ever since construction of the 700-unit, 12 story mega project on the banks of the highly polluted Gowanus Canal got underway.

The continuous pounding and shaking of pile driving has prompted nearby homeowners to organize and to stay connected through the Facebook page 'Voice Of Gowanus'. After numerous 311 calls, reaching out to Council Member Brad Lander's office, and signing a petition asking Lightstone to use noise reduction measures in place while driving more than 1200 piles into the marshy ground, the NYC Department of Environmental Protection finally paid a visit in late May and "found the noise recordings to be 'unreasonable'.  The DEP issued a 5 day cure notice.
 Lightstone contractors and the DEP subsequently tested various forms of sound muffling blankets on the ends of the piles in hope of reducing the impact of the noise on the surrounding neighborhood.
However, residents still say that the noise is unbearable and that they still feel their buildings shaking. One Second Street resident has invested in a digital sound meter device. This morning at 9:30 AM, the reading from his bedroom window registered 95.1 decibel. (Sustained exposure to 90-95 dB may cause permanent hearing loss.)

Decibel reading on June 12th 2014 at 9:30 AM on Second Street 
near Lightstone Group Contsruction site

Then there is the noise coming from idling trucks that have been lining up on First Street  right next to St. Mary's Star of the Sea Senior Home and across the street of residences as early as 5 AM, though the construction site only opens at 7 AM.  According to a spokesperson from Lightstone's PR firm, Geto DeMilly, the construction team has been directed to tell the truck drivers NOT to back up onto 1st Street prior to the site opening at 7 AM, but so far, that new policy does not seem to have taken effect.
On Tuesday, June 10th, trucks were still beeping non-stop for 15 minutes at 5:45 am according to a First Street resident.

And traffic is another headache around the site.  I just received an email from resident Riccardo Sinti, who contacted me about the traffic snarl created on Third Street "by the almost 100ft long tractor trailer trucks that are delivering the 1200 piles to the Lightstone development on Bond Street.

Sinti sent along the photo below, which he took yesterday.
 Riccardo further writes:
"As you can see from this picture the trucks are having difficulty navigating the tight curve from 3rd to Bond, nearly hitting the scaffolding that surrounds the building housing Fumi Hair Salon.
I have personally seen one of these trailers catch their rear wheel on the base of the lamp post and they always need to go up on the curb.
Obviously a 100ft long truck stuck in the intersection ties up traffic on an already busy street.
When they started deliveries this was always an issue so the eventually found a better way by using a short cab with a tighter turn radius which they would use to back up onto Bond between 3rd and 4th before heading straight across 3rd st.
I thought they learned their lesson until this morning when I saw them trying to execute the nearly impossible feat of turning from 3rd to Bond with the full sized cab. The short cab was parked down 3rd st. One of the construction workers said the driver "wanted to be a hero."
They don't seem to have a protocol in order for these deliveries and are inconveniencing and endangering drivers, pedestrians, parked cars and infrastructure.
Lightstone and the truckers need to have a plan to make sure that these trucks can get where they are going with the least inconvenience to the neighborhood and the police need to be present during these maneuvers to manage traffic and ticket cars that are parked in areas that should be clear on alternate side parking times to facilitate the movement of these mammoth vehicles."

Ricardo Sinti has forwarded the information to Councilman Brad Lander's office.

Lastly, but more importantly, both 363 and 365 Bond Street need to be remediated through the New York State Brownfield program since they are former manufacturing sites.

Crews at the Lightstone Group's site recently removing soil known to contain harmful petroleum-based contaminants. The resulting fumes caused residents to experience difficulties with breathing. The Fire Department visited the site twice on May 29th.

Below is a list of suspected chemicals on the 365 Bond Street building site.

Gowanus residents have created the Facebook page 'Voice Of Gowanus'  for the community to be able to communicate about the Lightstone development as well as to discuss issues pertaining to the Gowanus area. To access the page, click here.


Bklynebeth said...

I find it curious that in every rendering of Lightstone's Megapolis the buildings pictured adjacent to the structure are depicted as being the same hight (6-12 stories). The buildings directly across the street are TWO to THREE STORIES - half the size. This sleight of hand is no accident and misrepresents the development visually. If they had drawn in the buildings at their proper size we would have a much more realistic picture of the impact this massive structure will have as it towers over its diminutive brick and wood frame neighbors.

carmen said...

was an environmental study done for this project. If so How could it have passed. with a Super Fund Toxic dump right next to the property line and the tight streets, this looks like they just walked into the neighborhood and started the Love Canal 2014 housing project. Instead of making a Show about LICH closing Bill de Blasio should have been shutting this debacle down. Real Estate, the New Demon Satan Child.

Rob said...

The people on Carroll have it really bad. They've got this project and the one at the old Regency building going on at the same time.

Jim said...

Folks, I live in the neighborhood and I don't like this development project any more than anyone else. The reality is that this apartment building will get built and complaining isn't going to accomplish anything short of delaying the inevitable. For example this last 5 day cure notice brought some peace and quiet but to make for lost time and cost it will just get tacked onto the back end.

As for Riccardo's account of how the trucks deliver pipe via 3rd/Bond, it varies quite differently from mine. I watch the drivers every morning from my apt. on window on 3rd street and each, surprisingly, maneuvers their trailers effectively and in a timely fashion, stopping traffic less than 8 minutes. As for the truckers endangering pedestrians, drivers, and infrastructures that is ridiculous. And the suggestion that a cop should be present while a trucker negotiates the corner turn for a few minutes out of every morning is nothing short of absurd.

To those habitual complainers stop thinking of yourselves and let the S.O.Bs. get on with it for the sake of the rest of us. That is all. Goodnight and goodbye.

Anonymous said...

This is Riccardo,
Maybe you didn't grasp what I was trying to say in my comment.
I mentioned that with the first shipments they were getting stuck while negotiating the turn, then they figured that they should use the short cab. That is great. But the problem is, as I witnessed myself on more than one occasion, and shared the picture, they obviously have not set up a SOP for these deliveries. Even though a short cab was on site one of the drivers "wanted to be a hero" and took the turn in a full sized cab and got stuck for more than 10 mins (as long as I was there, so maybe longer) and as a result the lamppost is now dented- check it out yourself if you do live right there. I really don't want one of these truck to take down the scaffolding that is on my building. So yes, some of the drivers do it right and it goes as smoothly as can be expected for such huge trucks, causing a minimal amount of traffic. But my whole point is that even though they can do it correctly it seems as though some crews continue to do it wrong causing a dangerous situation. My call for police has more to do with managing traffic and pedestrian safety than babysitting the truck drivers. When the trucks are stuck in the intersection cars are swerving around and honking so we need traffic enforcement to manage this, not the random construction worker. There are many young kids traveling to school crossing bond street headed toward Park Slope in the morning and they deserve some protection. Cars that are parked in alt side spots illegally also get in the way of these trucks making smooth turns and it would be good if they were ticketed to encourage the clearing of the lane. Do you thing enforcing safety is absurd? As for the 5 day cure notice, though the pile noise is still loud I do feel it is muted a bit so it did help some.
In short, I'm not just thinking of my self when bringing up this issue, in fact I am thinking of my neighbors and their children, and the business in my building, the taxpayers and even you!

Anonymous said...


De Blasio is the primary reason this project is happening. He was its biggest supporter when it was first conceived by Toll Brothers (450 luxury condo) and to this day de Blasio remains strongly opposed to the canal's designation as a superfund site. Katia covered this extensively on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Every movie filmed in the city has a NYC Police detail assigned to the project. This Lightstone project is bigger than any movie yet the police seem to be completely absent. Where is the 76th PCT. during the constant morning traffic jams?

Anonymous said...

I, too, find it hard to believe that this project was allowed to go forward -- whether you are for or against, which is really no longer the issue because it's being built regardless -- solely on the issue of contamination of the land and the proximity of the filthy Gowanus waters. Who in their right mind would want to live there in those new buildings while knowing all this is really beyond me. I know I wouldn't want to be any closer to the canal than I am now (two blocks), never mind living ON its banks. I hope the cleaning of the canal will be successful for the neighborhood's sake -- it's way overdue, and we deserve it -- but the industrial waste damage done to that area in the last century can't be ignored for the sake of housing or profit, and at the potential risk to the health of unsuspecting (or unbelieving) new residents who will be moving into that complex.

Hooplehead said...

Anyone who is concerned about the future of the Gowanus Canal area should try to participate in the Bridging Gowanus process convened by Brad Lander and our other electeds. Developers and others who do not live or work in the area have been permitted to participate in what is supposed to be a community oriented process. The more voices heard from the community, the better.

What happens here affects our entire neighborhood in terms of schools, traffic, public transportation. People who use the Bergen Street station will have it worse during the morning rush than those of us who use the Carroll Street station.

Anonymous said...

There is just NO REASON for the local community to endure the harm that is being imposed, and everyone should keep up the complaints, contrary to Jim's advise.

And everyone needs to be aware what is involved in building new developments from moving massive materials along the narrow Bond Street, do releasing toxic fumes into the environment, and also driving an unreasonable number of piles into the soft swamp land.

This project is wrong for this land; and others like it would be even more wrong for the area, given what we are now learning.

So where is the 'green' sustainable development that respects the nature of this land? These large developers and their engineering teams clearly seam not to have any imagination for a sustainable green future in Gowanus.

Anonymous said...

It would have been nice if this land was cleaned and left for mother nature to take over and let her do her thing.
I too, cannot imagine anyone in their right mind wanting and paying to live on the gowanus canal. does anyone do thier homework?, it is the most polluted body of water in america.

I can see Love Canal, all over again.....
Im guessing it will be transplants moving there, as no native like myself, ever would.