New York hit the “pause” button on all non-essential business last week to slow the spread of coronavirus, and on Friday the directive from Governor Cuomo was extended to construction sites.
The temporary measure to halt all non-essential construction in NY follows similar measures taken in Washington state and in cities such as Boston.
Exemptions for the construction ban include the building of hospitals, homeless shelters, infrastructure and transit projects, emergency repairs, and perhaps most consequently for Greenpoint, affordable housing.
Local residents once-again reached out to Greenpointers on Monday morning with photos and videos of construction workers in close proximity at Greenpoint Landing and at 53 Huron St.
A man who lives near Greenpoint Landing called the police this morning as he watched construction workers on site: “They (the NYPD) claim they went there and it is essential work. I told them that they are not working on the affordable building yet. They are working on the tower,” he said, adding that the police must witness unsafe working conditions to enforce the order.
“They are working in close proximity and they don’t have masks. The police told me they don’t have to. It’s hypocritical from the city. It is absolutely does not help the situation,” he said.
Cuomo’s official “guidance for determining whether a business enterprise is subject to a workforce reduction under recent executive orders” lists the following rules for construction sites:
- All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).
- Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation.
- For purposes of this section construction work does not include a single worker, who is the sole employee/worker on a job site.
While the majority of Greenpoint Landing apartments are market rate, affordable housing is part of the plan, perhaps landing the mega-development in the “essential” category.
A few blocks away, a woman who lives near the 53 Huron St. development also contacted Greenpointers this morning will concerns after calling 311 with no results:
“So far there have been over 40 workers on this site and several heavy trucks entering and leaving,” she said. “This is just not acceptable for both the workers and for the surrounding buildings. It’s hard to walk to my building without walking past the mess they are making and walking past many of them in the street.”
I’ve rang 311 and told them but no one seems bothered and the state of the street next to the building is disgusting,” she said.
According to documents filed with the Department of Buildings, the mixed-use development at 53 Huron St. will have inclusionary housing among the 173 planned residential units.
On the other side of Newtown Creek in Hunters Point, construction crews were also spotted congregating in a large group near a work site on Monday. The Gantry Gram Instagram account aired concerns:
“This was the scene this morning on the south part of Center Blvd, in Hunters Point, Queens, where construction takes place on NYC middle income housing. The site borders a NYC park. Per usual, by midday there were smaller groups of construction workers socializing and walking shoulder to shoulder in and out of Ubran Market…I have never seen anyone monitoring these groups and gatherings, indoors or out. We all feel trapped and disoriented. These groups are adding to the stress.”