Water main break disrupts L train service

Feb26 L Train

By Sabina Mollot

A water main break in Chelsea caused L train service to be disrupted on Wednesday morning as crews worked to stop the flooding.

According to the Department of Environmental Protection, the 20-inch pipe located at Seventh Avenue between 14th and 15th Street burst at around 5:35 a.m. The water was later shut off though, stopping the leak, though not before some flooding in the subway. As of 9:30 a.m., crews were still working to excavate the roadway and repair the main though 14th Street was reopened to traffic.

As of 9:15 a.m., there was still no L train service between Union Square and Eighth Avenue, though otherwise L trains were still running every six minutes, the MTA said.

Still, the agency warned, “Expect delays in both directions” and suggested taking the M14 bus instead.

On its website, the MTA said water had stopped flowing into the tunnel, and crews were still busy clearing water and debris, and inspecting all affected switch and signal equipment. “We are working hard to restore full service by the afternoon rush,” the agency said.

L train updates have been posted online.

Update at 4:30 p.m.: A spokesperson for the DEP says a new valve has been installed and water service restored to 15th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.  Work continues to repair the main and restore water service to a building on corner of 14th Street and 7th Avenue, which is home to about 450 people. Work was still ongoing to resurface western lanes of Seventh Avenue though they were expected to reopen within the hour.

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Local tap water source changed after complaints about taste and smell

Council Member Keith Powers is calling for additional testing of the water after hearing from dozens of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village residents.

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The Department of Environmental Protection has stopped distributing water from the Croton watershed after an increase of complaints from residents about the quality of their tap water.

A spokesperson confirmed on Tuesday that the department decreased the percentage of Croton water going into distribution in response to the reports from residents about an “earthy” taste or smell to the water, and said that complaints to 311 have dropped since this change.

StuyTown Property Services sent out an email last Thursday with updates about the initial changes from the department, which were due to the DEP shutting down the Catskill Aqueduct for 10 weeks for an infrastructure project to upgrade the aqueduct.

The DEP noted that the Catskill Aqueduct is 113 years old and the ten-week renovation will cost $156 million. Gothamist reported last week that this Catskill Aqueduct shutdown will be the first of three before the Delaware Aqueduct is closed in 2022 for several months of repairs.

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Impacted businesses advised to file claims with Con Edison or insurance

Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito speaks to building owners at a meeting held on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Flatiron businesses owners impacted by last week’s steam blast were told on Monday night that they may have some recourse for their losses in the form of insurance claims or claims with Con Edison.

Representatives from the utility, the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Health, Small Business Services and the Department of Environmental Protection offered updates on the ongoing investigation and clean-up effort during a meeting at the Clinton School in Union Square on Monday night.

Joseph Esposito, the commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, said that as of Monday night, 17 buildings had been cleared for reoccupancy and the OEM announced that 16 additional buildings had been cleared by Wednesday morning, with 12 still needing to be cleaned and checked before they can be reoccupied.

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After asbestos confirmed, investigation continues in Flatiron

July19 Expolsion info at 22nd Con Ed

Con Ed employees accepting bagged clothing at 22nd Street and Broadway (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

In the wake of Thursday’s steam-pipe explosion, the city has confirmed the presence of asbestos. Sixteen inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection have been tasked with investigating the presence of any asbestos in nearby buildings while the site of the explosion is also being monitored.

On Friday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory for the whole city through 11 p.m. The agency’s warning noted that active children and adults as well as anyone with respiratory problems reduce “prolonged or heavy exertion” outdoors.

The public is still being warned to stay away from the immediate area, where there are still emergency crews at work.

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Steam explosion in Flatiron shuts down nearby streets

By Sabina Mollot

Emergency responders are still trying to find out the cause behind an early morning explosion in the heart of the Flatiron District. The blast occurred at 6:40 a.m. on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, sending a massive gray cloud shooting dozens of feet into the air and causing traffic shutdowns from 19th to 23rd Streets from Broadway to Sixth Avenue.

Eleven buildings were evacuated and surrounding streets were off limits to residents and workers until police began opening some streets at around 8:40 a.m., and office buildings began letting employees back inside. Town & Village’s block on West 22nd Street was one of those affected.

Town & Village driver Ray Pimentel was in his truck with stacks of this newspaper on his way to the office when he heard the massive “Boom!” nearby. Pimentel said had he not been caught at a red light on Sixth Avenue, “I would have been right in the hole in front of Chase Bank (on Fifth Avenue). I’m alive because of five seconds.”

He stopped his truck in the middle of Fifth Avenue and waited there for the Fire Department, which he said arrived in about seven minutes. Oddly, the blast didn’t smell too strong at that time.

“It was like cooking gas, you know like when you’re doing a barbecue, clean, not too bad,” he recalled.

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Sinkhole on E. 23rd turns into gurgling tub

July27 Sinkhole July25

Men work at the sinkhole on the bike lane at 23rd Street and the East River on Tuesday. (Photo by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

A sinkhole that’s been on the bike lane at 23rd Street along the East River for weeks now has grown from being a few feet across to a ten-foot-wide gurgling geyser. It has also been an active worksite manned by a plumbing crew from the Economic Development Corporation, which manages the nearby city-owned Skyport garage. It’s a broken, leaking pipe underneath the garage that has been blamed for the problem.

Town & Village first reported on the sinkhole last week, when a then two-week-old 311 complaint had yet to spur any action from the city. The relevant city agencies finally arrived at the scene last Wednesday evening (following T&V’s press time) to barricade off the area. Additionally, at that time, a spokesperson for the DEP told us the Skyport garage had been ordered to fix the pipe as well as well as the sinkhole.

But by Tuesday evening of this week, a spokesperson for the EDC, Shavone Williams, still couldn’t say exactly when the damaged water line would be fixed, although the expectation was sometime this week. Williams added that the EDC was planning with the Department of Environmental Preservation to shut down a main on Wednesday morning so contractors could repair the line and repave the surface later in the week. Until it’s repaired, Williams said, the crew would remain onsite and keep the area surrounding the water hole secured with cones and tape.

Meanwhile, water service was completely shut off at Waterside Plaza on Wednesday by 8:30 a.m., according to the management office. General Manager Peter Davis said he didn’t know if it was related to the sinkhole, since the property hadn’t gotten a notice from any agency. UPDATE at 10:54 a.m. Water service has been restored to Waterside, and a DEP representative said the agency was looking into why it happened and why residents were not notified.

Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, first reported the sinkhole to the city on July 5, fearing it would become a deathtrap for cyclists and the usual crowds of people headed to the party boats at the marina next to the garage.

However, there was no visible response from the city on the growing hole until Handal reached out to a number of city agencies and elected officials as well as Town & Village. Only then did teams from the DEP and the Department of Transportation arrive to completely barricade off the sinkhole, which had been only partially surrounded by tape.

As of this Tuesday, Handal said it didn’t appear the workers knew yet where the water main actually was. After stopping by the site, Handal said she was shocked by the force and sound of the gushing water in the hole, as thick cords from six water pumps snaked their way inside. The width of the hole, which had originally just been in the bike lane, had stretched across two traffic lanes by then. This may have been done intentionally to allow the workers access, however.

Based on her observations, though, the water pumps didn’t appear to be doing much. She said she was told by a worker that the EDC was waiting for the DEP to turn off the water and that the collapsed pipe was believed to be about 80 years old.

Sinkhole growing on bike lane at E. 23rd St.

Cyclists have been stopping short in front of this sinkhole, which was first reported to the city by Waterside Tenants Association President Janet Handal over two weeks ago. (Photos by Janet Handal)

By Sabina Mollot

Cyclists, beware.

A sinkhole that appeared earlier in the month has grown even larger as the ground continues to ripple on the bike lane at East 23rd Street and the FDR Drive.

The sinkhole was reported to 311 on July 5 by Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association, when she spotted it. But as of Wednesday, July 19 in the morning, it was still there, and, from what she’s observed, stretched into a yawning concrete chasm.

“A rapidly progressing collapse of the pedestrian-bike path in front of the 23rd Street Marina is happening and urgently needs to be attended to,” Handal said in an email.

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Opinion: March madness

By Former Assemblyman Steven Sanders

Out of Cleveland, Ohio comes a strong contender for the title of worst idea of the year.

Cleveland will be the site of the Republican Party National Convention over the summer. Nearly 40,000 people, many Ohioans (most of whom will not be in attendance), have signed a petition to allow participants of that convention to carry firearms into the arena.

So the pushing, punching and aggression which has been on display at various Republican candidate rallies in recent weeks seems to have led some to the conclusion that arming opposing political factions with guns is a really neat idea.

Who thinks this stuff up? And what kind of a mind believes this would be a good thing for our political conventions, especially at a time when passions are running so deep and tempers so short?

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Residents sound off about noise

ST/PCV residents listen to Gerry Kelpin, the Department of Environmental Protections Environmental Compliance Unit director. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

ST/PCV residents listen to Gerry Kelpin, the Department of Environmental Protections Environmental Compliance Unit director. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Frustrations were high for Stuyvesant Town tenants attending a forum on noise while trying to come up with solutions for peace and quiet in the neighborhood. The main complaint from tenants at the meeting, held by the ST-PCV Tenants Association at the PS 40 auditorium, was the seeming lack of enforcement on the part of management about noise issues. Discussing the issue with a crowd of around 70 tenants were city experts on noise.

“People will call management then management will call public safety, but by the time public safety comes up they won’t hear the noise,” Tenants Association President Susan Steinberg said. “They say not to get involved with your neighbors so you have to wait for public safety but the next thing you know, it’s going on again.”

In response, Noise Activities Chair for GrowNYC.org Dr. Arline Bronzaft said that she disagreed that tenants shouldn’t approach their neighbors.

“You should know your neighbors,” she said. “If there’s a problem, we should be able to interact with each other.”

Other residents felt that the lack of enforcement was due to the non-compliance of many apartments on the 80/20 carpet rule, which states in Stuy Town leases that 80 percent of the floor must be covered by carpeting to mitigate noise between floors.

“Two of the last three tenants who have lived above me were not compliant with the carpeting rule,” resident Arlynne Miller said. “You have to get (management) to jump through unbelievable hoops to get them to comply.”

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Leasing office building renovation

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town leasing office (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Along with the ongoing work to build a new management office and an office for the public safety department in Stuyvesant Town, another project is taking place at the building that’s home to the leasing office.

A resident at the building, 250 First Avenue, told Town & Village recently that he learned about a plan to extend the leasing office further into the building from onsite workers. However, the resident, who didn’t want his name printed, said he was less than thrilled about the work, because of all the noise from jackhammering and generators earlier in the month, which he called “deafening.” There were also vibrations in his apartment, he said, adding, “It’s seven hours a day they were jackhammering.”

He also noted that fliers placed in the building early in January alerting residents to the fact that the work would be taking longer than expected (past January 3) “due to unforeseen circumstances” didn’t mention what the project was.

It’s nothing to do with benefitting the general tenants. It’s being done to make more students move in,” he said.

When asked for details about the project, a rep for CWCapital wouldn’t divulge any, only saying that it would be completed by January 24. Fliers that were put up again more recently also noted the new completion date, while classifying the work as a renovation.

Meanwhile, since work began, the building was visited by an inspector from the Department of Environmental Protection. A spokesperson for the department confirmed to T&V that there was an inspection for asbestos. However, none was found.

The resident, however, said he observed that when an inspector came, workers were

Wokers put up a curtain to prevent dust from blowing around at the work site. (Photo by a resident)

Wokers put up a curtain to prevent dust from blowing around at the work site. (Photo by a resident)

made to put up a curtain after excessive amount of dirt from their workspace had managed to fly around the Terrace level and accumulate on floors, even getting into mailboxes. (He also snapped a couple of photos to prove the point.) Still, the rep for the DEP, Mercedes Padilla, told T&V there was no record of an official complaint about dirt. She also said all CWCapital’s necessary work permits were in place.

The construction in that building is a stone’s throw away from Playground 8, which is being upgraded as part of the work on the new management office. The area, including a walkway, around 274 First Avenue on the First Avenue Loop, is currently walled off. Last summer, CW said in an announcement that the new management office would be completed in April. However, there were no updates given on the date a meeting held last October about the project for tenants living in nearby buildings.

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings did not respond to requests about the leasing office project.

 

Water main break on 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue (updated)

whirlpool

Flooding from the water main on the northeast corner of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue
Photos by Sabina Mollot

By Sabina Mollot

A water main break on Friday morning before 11 a.m. sent rivers of water gushing throughout the street on Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street and inside the Q/N/R subway station, where trains stopped working.

Outside of Madison Square Park, on the east side, cars driving south found themselves having to get past a seven-foot-wide whirlpool. Naturally, tourists continued to stand around anyway to take pictures of the Flatiron Building, as firefighters responded to the scene.

The 36-inch water main was from 1915, according to William Podstupka, one of the MTA workers at the scene. An official agency spokesman couldn’t confirm the main’s age, though, explaining, “the MTA doesn’t own the water main.” Podstupka, however, said the main had caused 36,000 gallons of water to spurt out and that workers were just hoping to have the situation under control by Friday evening.

The break caused N and Q trains to stop running between 57th Street and Dekalb Avenue and R trains to stop running between Queens Plaza and Whitehall Street.

Update: As of 1:55 a.m. on Saturday, normal N, Q and R train service has resumed in Manhattan. According to an official NYC alert, straphangers should expect residual delays and traffic near East 23rd Street and Broadway.

Additionally, the Department of Environmental Protection was on the scene to address problems with water pressure in the area as a result of the break. If anyone still has low water pressure, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who sent out an email alert via the Flatiron BID, said the DEP is tracking complaints via the 3-1-1 system.

Stroller

Passersby slosh through the water on the northwest corner of 23rd Street and Fifth Avenue.

23rd Street NW corner puddle

Flooding at around 11 a.m.

workers

Three hours later, workers remain at the scene.