July 8, 2010
Building renovation is not something covered on local ecologist but an incident today spurred us to do so. I was pushing my son in a baby carriage and happened to cross the LaGuardia Place and Bleecker Street intersection to find the sidewalk completely blocked by wooden beams laid across a trash can and a rickety old chair. Three men, two workers and a "foreman," were attempting to removed the metal awning above the doorway to the former Senor Swanky's restaurant. I asked them to create some space on the sidewalk so I could pass. The foreman remarked, "I know the baby is not yours but it's not safe to pass here," to which I replied, "He is my son and I'd like you to make space for me to pass. I don't see a permit for the work you are doing," to which he replied, "Don't be selfish. Think about the baby." He reluctantly adjusted the makeshift barrier, allowing me to pass. Once passed, I called 311 and reported the illegal blockage of the sidewalk. NYC 311 allows residents to "get information, report problems, and request services." Unfortunately, I did not photograph the sidewalk blockade. Later in the day, I took a video of two workers cutting the metal awning on the sidewalk without personal safety equipment and without safeguards for passers-by. I will continue to document the renovation of 142 Bleecker Street.
Update, 7/12/2010: Work on the exterior of the former restaurant resumed this morning. A new awning is being installed. Metals rods for the awning were cut with a circular saw on the sidewalk. Scaffolds on wheels are being used. Two ladders are propped on the exterior wall and two others, one of which is wheeled, are standing unsecured on the sidewalk. As before, there are no visible safeguards for passers-by.
Update, 7/12/2010, #2: Enclosure of the renovation is in progress -- finally!