John St. residents still awaiting peace and quiet

BY ALINE REYNOLDS  |  According to some residents, living on John Street is still hellish, despite recent assurances that the noisy after-hours work on certain constructions projects would cease.

A crane on John Street where local residents have been dealing with noise from the numerous ongoing contruction projects for months.

That was the message residents Barbara Minsky and Christopher Swann delivered to members of the Community Board 1 Quality of Life Committee last Thursday, Jan. 19, attended by Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center representative Robin Forst.

“I would have never moved down here had I known about this,” said Swann, who lives at 20 John St. “They don’t seem to take into account that people want to be there on weekends and for dinner on weekdays.”

“I looked out my window today and saw a crane with a large metal ball. It was scary,” chimed in Minsky. “It’s been a living hell for nine months. I listen to six hours of a saw every day. And businesses on the street are being crushed.”

The onus should be put on Con Edison, according to C.B. 1 Vice Chair Catherine McVay Hughes. For nearly a year, the utility company has been ripping up John Street to find and replace faulty steam, gas and water mains.

“They need to be held accountable and they should come in for a meeting,” said Hughes.

Since the C.B. 1 meeting, Forst has initiated a weekly task force with Con Edison, SL Green and the Metropolitan Transit Authority in attempt to coordinate construction work and address residents’ quality of life concerns.

“We’re hoping to reduce nighttime and weekend noisy work as much as possible,” said Forst. “This will often necessitate daytime closures of John Street, however, pedestrian access will be maintained.”

Forst continued, “I’m guardedly optimistic that we’ll see improvement in people’s daily lives.”

Committee Chair Pat Moore also proposed to arrange a forthcoming meeting with the various stakeholders. “We’re going to try to help you resolve this,” Moore told the residents. “Let’s schedule a meeting, but you all have to work on getting every business on the block [to come].”

Con Edison began ripping up John Street between Nassau and William Streets in search of a steam leak on Monday, Jan. 23, according to spokesperson Allan Drury.

“That work, which was scheduled from Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., was suspended [Tuesday] when we discovered a damaged electrical cable,” said Drury. “We are assessing this and will make repairs, and will [then] resume the steam work.”

Starting in February, Con Edison will be working to replace 150 feet of gas main on the portion of John Street between Broadway and Nassau Street, according to Drury. The utility company currently has permits to perform this work Monday trough Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Drury made no mention of weekend or overnight emergency work, which residents have recently complained about.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused for people in the area,” said Drury. “The work is necessary to keep our systems operating safely and reliably.”

Meanwhile, SL Green Realty, which is erecting a 23-story Pace University dormitory at 180 Broadway, has obtained after-hour city permits this week to work Monday through Friday from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this weekend. The firm didn’t immediately provide its after-work schedule for the coming weeks.

“As of today, they do not plan on working on the weekend but pulled the permits in the event that something comes up,” said SL Green Spokesperson Melissa McNamara. “They also do not intend to work before 7 a.m., other than picking up and changing out the job site toilets and possibly deliver materials.”

Responding to residents’ concerns, SL Green officials said in a statement, “Construction managers are working to mitigate any noise at the site.”