Con Ed improves security on E. 11th road project


By Elizabeth O’Brien

Residents of E. 11th St. say that increased police patrols have helped allay their safety concerns as Con Edison installs a major steam line along the street.

Con Ed put up plywood and chain-link fences in the street that cordon off the equipment it uses for its roadwork between First Ave. and Avenue C. The work involves digging several large shafts from which the underground pipe will then be tunneled. A previous project on 10th St. involved an open trench approach that caused complaints about blowing dirt and was also blamed for aggravating asthma conditions.

The shaft project was seen as an improvement on the trench approach. But neighbors were concerned that the tall fences around the shaft locations create narrow, low-visibility corridors for pedestrians that would make them easy crime targets.

In response to community concerns, within the last few weeks the Ninth Precinct has increased foot patrols in the area.

“I’ve seen them,” Alyssa Adams, a member of the 11th St. Block Association, said of the extra officers. “That’s reassuring.”

Adams also said that Community Board 3 has played a valuable role coordinating community meetings with residents, police and Con Ed officials.

Before the foot patrols, neighbors say they saw drug activity around the fenced yards. A Con Ed spokesperson said that the company contacted the Ninth Precinct as soon as officials heard the community’s complaints. The company also added gates in early September to close off the yards, said Brenda Perez, the spokesperson.

Democratic District Leader Rosie Mendez said that people had noticed needles around the work sites, one of which is right in front of her house. She said the installation of gates has helped, though one night about a week ago she saw a man who looked like he was nodding out on drugs and about to fall over standing in front of one of the gates as if hoping to go inside.

Residents also still worry about the fumes from the generator, the piles of dirt created by the tunneling work and limited road access. Perez said that Con Ed relied on standard electricity as much as possible and used a generator only when necessary. She did not return a follow-up call by press time on the questions of dirt removal and road access.

The steam line work on E. 11th St. comes as Con Ed expands the capacity of its E. 14th St. power plant. The new line will be needed to accommodate the steam produced in the revamped plant, to be completed by the end of next year.

Perez declined to say when the E. 11th St. work would be completed, noting only that the work was on schedule. Adams said the tunneling work was planned through December.