Thursday, June 23, 2016

Kafkaesque construction delays cause anger at The Neighborhood School on 3rd Street


[EVG photo from Monday evening]

The three-year renovation of The Neighborhood School and PS 63 on East Third Street between Avenue A and First Avenue has reached a boiling point with parents and nearby residents.

And now the aptly named Kafka Construction, the company behind the renovations, which include asbestos removal, have been removed from the job.

Members of The Neighborhood School’s Health and Safety Committee issued a statement dated today:

After parents of The Neighborhood School (PS363) and The Star Academy (PS63) elementary schools gathered 600 signatures in just two days on a petition alleging three years of health hazards at their schools created by ongoing construction work — including rodent infestation in classrooms, homeless encampments at fire exits and drug paraphernalia and human waste at the school’s entrance — the NYC School Construction Authority (SCA), on June 13, terminated Kafka Construction’s contract. The company’s completion date over the three-year period had been postponed twice, and they showed no signs of intending to complete the work or caring about the ramifications.

The co-located elementary schools ... have been covered in scaffolding for three years, blocking all sunlight into classrooms and creating a neighborhood eyesore. Local politicians and DOE officials who toured the schools in early June were shocked by what they found. It was enough to compel the SCA to take “drastic actions,” firing Kafka and bringing in an emergency contractor to complete the work, ostensibly by the beginning of next school year.

Parents could no longer keep silent when they discovered that each morning before school started, school administration had been forced to clean hypodermic needles, vomit and feces, found on the premises, before the children’s arrival. This was a problem created by the ongoing scaffolding surrounding the building which created conditions for all kinds of undesirable behavior after school hours.

The school’s cleaning efforts didn’t prevent used syringes from being found during a daytime fire drill or by an after-school group playing in what is left of the school’s yard, which is largely covered by construction equipment.

The flower boxes in front of the school, which once housed beautiful plants, are now rat infested, as is the area behind the school where construction equipment is stored. The entire building now has a problem with vermin, and children have been known to shriek when they see a rodent scamper across the room during class.

Parents are relieved that Kafka has been fired, but remain concerned and skeptical that their kids will have a facility that is safe and an appropriate learning environment by September.

And here are some photos supplied by the parents...








[Syringes found against school wall during a fire drill]

A Kafka rep declined to comment to the Daily News.

Meanwhile, a resident who lives adjacent to the school sent along a few photos and commentary...





"We have had our lives turned upside down by this nightmare. It's been going on for over three years now and every year we're told the same thing. It will be done in August," the resident said. "We've called Kafka numerous times to complain. One particular instance...Kafka told us the project was delayed because they had to order a special kind of terracotta and it was only made by one company in California! They also told us to think of what a beautiful building it's going to be once it is completed. I'm sure the terracotta cost more than the teachers got in raises in the past 10 years or so.

"They could have build three new schools in the time it's taken them to renovate this one."

In early May, the artist JR and his Inside Out Project visited the school. The portraits of the students from Inside Out were then used to liven up the plywood on East Third Street...


[EVG photo]


[EVG photo]

The Kafka workers recently tore down the photos and tossed them in the dumpster. [Updated: The school had to remove the posters. The Department of Sanitation was going to levy fines for every poster, according to a parent. "Obviously frustrating but for an entirely different reason," per a parent.]



Per the resident: "You can name the post 'Dumpster full of children's tattered dreams of this project ever getting completed.'"

According to the Daily News, Department of Education officials are looking to secure a new construction company to finish the job. Officials are banning the Queens-based Kafka from taking new jobs with the city School Construction Authority for at least two years.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Given the bureaucracy of city work, I wonder how much of this is due to the neglect of the board. The contractor should not be cleaning walkways of non-construction debris, dealing with rats, or the homeless. The school should have posted a guard 24/7, or worked out an arrangement with the construction company to do that. The rat problem, again, is the school's responsibility -- and DoH should have been contacted. And why are the flower boxes rat infested? Is this due to lack of light or just inattention.

Gojira said...

Wow, Anon. 7.50, way to deflect blame from the real culprit here. In case you don't remember, the primary function of a school is to teach and nurture children, not be a clean-up crew for an irresponsibld, probably corrupt construction company that repeatedly lied, stonewalled, and made the neighbors' lives hell for an inordinately lengthy amount of time. Way to go, you fine citizen, whose daily existence, I am guessing, has in no way been impacted by this imbroglio, and whose kids, if you have them, don't attend this school.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all the good builders are no longer available considering the insane about of construction happening in the city the past several years. The city apparently got stuck with one of worst.

Anonymous said...

Yup it's been h*ll on earth living adjacent to this "project" - obscene actually. Sometimes they are cutting bricks, drilling, yelling, power washing, back-up beeping until midnight on Friday only to start again at 8am Saturday. It's like a weird twilight zone where you have absolutely no right to live in your apartment - and you know, think, work, god forbid sleep. Shame on the SCA and all involved!

blue glass said...

somobody forgot to add the appropriate language to the contract - this is ridiculous. it is not the school's responsibility to clean up after the contractor, nor to remove construction debris, or to provide security.
the city is responsible for their property and its maintenance. they also have a slew of emgineers, architects, managers, construction workers, etc. on their payroll. i nver understood why they have all this staff of workers and then bid out work.

oh shit, let the kids build a security fence - they'd probably do it quicker and better. maybe even the repairs.
or, call donald. he's always looking for cheap press.

Anonymous said...

Gorija,

I'm sure the board of ed had told the school admin that there was no money for a 24/7guard, nor for clean up. The rat problem -- and to blame the contractor for that -- is outrageous. When the city digs up streets, are those contractors responsible for putting out traps? No. Individual residents are and will be fined if they do not.

There is no excuse for the school to not clean up the rat problem -- especially if it has persisted for three years.


Anonymous said...

been forced to clean hypodermic needles, vomit and feces, found on the premises, before the children’s arrival.
This is the East Village. You don't like it, move to the suburbs.

Anonymous said...

I live across the street ( in Village View). Noise on weekend and evenings have disrupted my family's enjoyment of our home for over two years. Dirt comes in our windows from Kafka's rooftop work and the noise continues well past the 10PM cutoff. Phone calls to city council and DOE have changed nothing. And, the intensely bright work lights have caused us to purchase black out curtains, which may have been appropriate during World War 2, but not in 2016. Rarely have we seen more than a half dozen men working on that project. Three years of dirt and noise and hell...for nothing. Why did it take DOE three years to act? And those poor children suffering too.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Anon 12:07, you rascally troll. The situation there is not "Eh, East Village, whatever." It's a permanent encampment of substance abusers who leave food and shit and hypos out every day, attracting rats and forcing the neighbors to walk in the street. The neverending delays on this project have also deprived the kids at those schools of much of their playground, while tormenting the neighbors with insane construction noise that goes on late into the night. The city should sue this contractor into penury and ban him from doing business with NYC for life.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything more ignorant than the blanket "it's the east village, move to the suburbs" statement anymore? I mean besides Donald Trump.

Anonymous said...

And where the hell has the 9th Precinct been during all of this? A heroin den springs up a block and a half from their HQ and they don't even notice it? Par for the course for NYPD in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised no one sued them to stop the apparent nuisance

Anonymous said...

There is a particularly nasty band of crusties usually camped out overnight under scaffoldings on 10th betw 3rd and 4th or 9th between 4th and Broadway leaving detritus of human/dog waste and garbage including food and drug supplies and menacing passers by the police also seem to turn a blind eye to. Why in the world would you think this was appropriate status quo for the EV?

Anonymous said...

I agree: NYPD is to blame. Sue them as well for forcing our children to endure this.

Anonymous said...

These classic old buildings will be likely around for decades more. So yes, they should spend now for good materials (like that terra cotta) and hopefully good workmanship. And it shouldn't be 'we can only spend on quality construction OR on quality teachers, but not both"

cmarrtyy said...

Where is our Council Person?! Oh, the Democratic Party doesn't want to get involved. Sorry. Sorry for us. One party rule i sno good. We need open elections. No parties. Just good people.

Makeout said...

Fucking Kafka. Way to take the money and run. Cocksuckers.

Anonymous said...

@ 12:36 PM You're right. I apologize.
That stuff should all stay in TSP, where it belongs.

Anonymous said...

4:14 - yes it SHOULDN'T be either or - point is it is. Also, reading these comments finally makes me feel not alone in this - currently home from work to the summer sounds (EVERY summer) of the ice cream man being drowned out by the brain rattling sound of CUTTING STONE - every single night for YEARS As NYers we expect some noise, filth and disturbance but having it constantly from the same project for years should be illegal. It's like paying NYC taxes to pay for the school project while paying exorbitant rent for apartments we can't even enjoy because of the money we paid for the school shit show project. Total BS.

Anonymous said...

I live on this block and the homeless encampments have indeed been a horrific mess. I've stopped by the nearby 9th precinct and called 311 numerous times to complain, even flagged down a passing police car, but nothing has changed. In broad daylight, I've seen a junkie shoot a needle in another junkie's neck. I've also seen another junkie stagger down the sidewalk like a zombie with blood running down his arm. Not to mention, the filthy mattresses and cardboard boxes that block the sidewalk and the horrible stench that fills the air. I should also add that I've lived in the neighborhood since 1992 and I've never seen anything nearly as bad as this: drunks, junkies and homeless vagrants, every single day and night. Back in the day, if there was such a problem, it wouldn't have lasted nearly as long. Three years? This is total insanity.

JNZ said...

Can we take the same action against the Houston Street construction company?

Anonymous said...

No matter how noisy the endless demolition, construction, renovation, no matter how filled the nights become with drunken 20 somethings yelling and fighting, no matter how much dog shit appears on the sidewalks from the pet owners that are irresponsible, no matter how many summers with drug addicted crusties, rents continue to soar, newbie's can only imagine moving here from suburbia and developers continue the carpet bagger ways.

Honkeur said...

I live nearby and my kids go to school here. It is indeed a complete disaster. Kakfa Construction are thoroughly incompetent. But someone at DOE deserves to be fired as well, for not monitoring the progress of the project, and allowing a near-stoppage of work. For anyone who uses the building, it's been clear for the past two years that the job was not being done properly, and was ridiculously behind schedule. In the meantime, our poor kids haven't had access to most of their recess yard.

Anonymous said...

Place the blame squarely on East Village politicos Rosie Mendez, Susan Stetzer & CB3 who refused to move on the homeless encampments outside the school as well as elsewhere in our neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

And just this morning on the East 4th Street side of the school: A junkie shooting up into her trembling arm while in a doorway hidden by the scaffolding and dumpsters.

Downtowner said...

I live across the way in Village View - this has been a joke going on for years. The encampments are bad, I can't even imagine what it's like for the kids and parents who attend the school. Typical city project gone wrong. Like every other dragged out, incompetently appropriated construction project. I hope this remedies the project soon, for the kids there and the poor neighbors who are in the immediate area.