Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the NYTimes: Audit Says DOB Follow-Up on Buildings Is Lacking

Reposted from the NYTimes

Audit Says Follow-Up on Buildings Is Lacking 

By SEWELL CHAN 



The city’s Department of Buildings, which has already been the object of intense scrutiny over fatal construction accidents and accusations of corruption, is facing more criticism.
On Tuesday, City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. released an audit finding that the department had repeatedly failed to make sure that hazardous conditions were fixed. Among the notable findings:

 ¶The department failed to reinspect 20 percent of the properties due for reinspection as part of its Hazardous Re-inspection Program, because inspectors could not gain access to the properties.

 ¶The department failed to reinspect 5 of 14 buildings with three or more still-open hazardous violations for more than 11 months. The buildings were selected as part of its Multi-Hazardous Re-Inspection Program.

 ¶The department has not strengthened its existing programs or used its power to issue building permits as an effective enforcement tool.

 “It is simply unacceptable that D.O.B. has permitted buildings with multiple open hazardous violations to go un-inspected for years,” Mr. Thompson, who is expected to run for mayor in 2009, said in a statement. “Even by D.O.B.’s admission, these are the worst cases, yet it has stood by and let the violations go unchecked and put New Yorkers at risk. The Department of Buildings’ violation enforcement is crucial to ensuring that buildings in the city are being constructed safely and pose no risks to area residents.”

 The audit found that the department’s efforts to follow up on violations “were less than adequate not only because of deficiencies in the execution of its programs, but also because the agency is limited in its ability to compel property owners to remedy violations on their property.”

For example, in September 2007, the department issued 1,449 hazardous violations citations through an entity known as the Environmental Control Board.

Follow-up inspections found that 845 properties had no new violations, while 312 of the hazardous conditions still existed, resulting in additional citations. For the remaining 292 violations, inspectors could not gain access to the properties.

Mr. Thompson’s office found that inspectors left the required form, requesting that the property owner call the department to reschedule the reinspection, for only 100 of the 292 properties.

Mr. Thompson said the department should ensure that inspectors are leaving the forms and do more to follow up on the buildings in question.

 The auditors also looked at the department’s Multi-Hazardous Re-Inspection program. The audit reviewed 14 buildings that had at least three hazardous violations still open during the time period studied. The citations had been issued from September 2003 to December 2004. Of the 14, eight had corrected the violations, and six had yet to be resolved.

 Of those still unresolved, as of March 2008, the department had not taken any action for 11 months since at least April 2007 for five of the six buildings. In one case, the last recorded action was in October 2005 — two and a half years earlier.

Finally, the auditors examined the department’s self-certification audit program, which requires that 10 percent of randomly selected properties be reinspected. The audit found that the department did not check on compliance for one-third of the 1,628 self-certifications randomly selected.

Furthermore, of the 31 cases in which the department did find violations that were not corrected, it “took no further action and did not issue false certification violations against 17,” or 55 percent of the cases.

 In a response, the department said it had already begun to carry out the 11 recommendations of Mr. Thompson’s report, saying, “The content of these recommendations has helped the department review and strengthen our procedures."

Monday, June 23, 2008

A peek inside the "Virtual Folder" of 585 6th Avenue

Plans have been partially approved with the DOB to begin developing one of the last remaining vacant pieces of open land in the south Slope, the large parking lot located at 585 6th Avenue. You can expect a 5 story, 32,719 square foot building with 24 housing units on this R6B zoned lot. With various setbacks and bulkheads, that somehow turns out to be more, but never less than, the 50 ft tall height restriction . There will be balconies. There will be off street parking.
The architect will be FELIX TAMBASCO from the Brooklyn firm SEARS TAMBASCO ARCHITECTS, PC.




































The oath an architect takes when their work is to be Professionally Self Certified:

I HEREBY STATE THAT I HAVE EXERCISED A PROFESSIONAL STANDARD OF CARE IN CERTIFYING THAT THE FILED APPLICATION IS COMPLETE AND IN ACCORDANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAWS, INCLUDING THE RULES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS, AS OF THIS DATE. I AM AWARE THE COMMISSIONER WILL RELY UPON THE TRUTH AND ACCURACY OF THIS STATEMENT. I HAVE NOTIFIED THE OWNER THAT THIS APPLICATION HAS BEEN PROFESSIONALLY CERTIFIED. IF AN AUDIT OR OTHER EXAM DISCLOSES NON-COMPLIANCE, I AGREE TO NOTIFY THE OWNER OF THE REMEDIAL MEASURES THAT MUST BE TAKEN TO MEET LEGAL REQUIREMENTS. I FURTHER REALIZE THAT ANY MISREPRESENTATION OR FALSIFICATION OF FACTS MADE KNOWINGLY OR NEGLIGENTLY BY ME, MY AGENTS OR EMPLOYEES, OR BY OTHERS WITH MY KNOWLEDGE, WILL RENDER ME LIABLE FOR LEGAL AND DISCIPLINARY ACTION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS AND OTHER APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES, INCLUDING TERMINATION OF PARTICIPATION IN THE PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES AT THE DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS. LOT A.K.A. 591 SIXTH AVENUE.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
Here at IMBY, I can think of no better time, from an adjacent property owner's point of view at least, to have to endure the construction of a new building next door to your home. The level of protection being provided by the Department of Buildings is probably at it's highest in years. Foundation, excavation and underpinning work of course is still the most critical time in the whole process, but at least you can be reassured that if your house starts to wander from it's old foundation, you are only a phone call away from having the DOB's special team of forensic engineers come to your rescue and issue a stop work order, and another, and another, and another, until the foundation contractor finally gets it right.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hertzberg Charged

THE NEW YORK TIMES IS REPORTING:

Engineer Is Charged in Fatal Wall Collapse

Published: June 20, 2008

A licensed engineer was charged Thursday with filing fraudulent plans with the city’s Department of Buildings in connection with a Brooklyn construction site where the collapse of earth and debris killed a day laborer in March.

The owner of the site was indicted on June 12 on manslaughter charges in connection with the collapse. The charges come at a time when the authorities are placing intense scrutiny on construction safety after a string of fatal accidents at building sites.

The engineer, Abraham Hertzberg, 86, of Kings Point, N.Y., faces nine first-degree counts of offering a false instrument for filing, a felony. If convicted, he could face up to three years in prison on each count.

Mr. Hertzberg’s lawyer, Kevin Keating of Garden City, N.Y., said his client would plead not guilty. “The D.A. conceded in court today that Abe Hertzberg has no responsibility for the tragic death of this individual,” Mr. Keating said. “He was not charged with manslaughter or any other charges like that.”

According to the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, William Lattarulo, the owner of the construction site, hired an architect in 2005 to design plans to build a laundry at the site, at 791-793 Glenmore Avenue in East New York. The architect subcontracted the work to Mr. Hertzberg, a professional engineer with Sanchez Associates.

According to the indictment, Mr. Hertzberg had previously lost his authority to self-certify architectural designs and used a stamp belonging to his partner, Louis Sanchez, to certify them in Mr. Sanchez’s name. He also placed Mr. Sanchez’s signature on several documents filed in support of Mr. Lattarulo’s applications for building permits, according to the district attorney.

At the time, Mr. Sanchez was recovering from a severe brain injury and “lacked the physical ability to review or certify architectural designs,” Mr. Hynes’s office said Thursday in a statement.

After getting the necessary permits, Mr. Lattarulo began construction of the building. On the morning of March 12, a worker, Lauro Ortega, 30, was digging the foundation in a trench beside a house that Mr. Lattarulo also owned. The laundry’s foundation was to be much deeper than that of the house, requiring that the house’s foundation be underpinned to prevent a collapse.

According to the authorities, Mr. Lattarulo was warned by a consultant that the new foundation was unstable. Instead, the authorities said, Mr. Lattarulo told Mr. Ortega to keep digging.

Moments later, part of a wall from the house collapsed and spilled rubble onto Mr. Ortega, killing him. A second worker was injured.

Last week, Mr. Lattarulo was charged with manslaughter in the second degree, criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment in the case.

Robert D. LiMandri, the acting buildings commissioner, said in a statement on Thursday: “We will not tolerate anyone who puts the safety of others at risk by filing false documents and deliberately misleading the buildings department. Today’s arrest demonstrates that those who do so will face serious consequences.”

Related IMBY posts:

"Proven Disciplinary Actions from the Department of Buildings"

"Crossing the i's and dotting the t's... catching up on the paper work."



Company Hired to Test Concrete Faces Scrutiny


NY TIMES
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM
June 21, 2008

Manhattan prosecutors are investigating whether the leading concrete testing company in the New York area, Testwell Laboratories Inc., which has been hired to measure and analyze the strength of the concrete poured at some of the biggest construction projects in the city, failed to do some tests and falsified others, officials involved in the inquiry said on Friday. LINK

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna to perform in Prospect Park







Metropolitan Opera: Live in Prospect Park
Friday, June 20th, 8 p.m.

What you all doing Friday night? Opera anyone? I HEARD THE FIRST 35 PEOPLE IN LINE GET A FREE COUCH!
What could be more adrenaline arousing than an evening spent under the Brooklyn moon and stars with your wife and kids in the middle of a public park, after dark? I don't know, maybe for some of you the novelty has already worn off.

In any case, the clover is in bloom, the fire flies are out, and I have just enough stamps on my SLOPE CELLARS wine club card for a bottle of just about anything under $20 bucks, so time to pack up my blankets and picnic basket and head on over to Prospect Park. I won't forget my Boy Scout knife/corkscrew either like last time. (No twist tops tonight honey.)


"That's right, buy 12 and get a 13th for 99 cents."
Everyone knows that the true opera fanatics always sit way up in the cheap nose bleed sections, but Friday night all the seats are the same price, FREE. Two of opera’s biggest personalities, soprano Angela Gheorghiu (FHM magazine ranks her at number 74 in its '2006 World's Sexiest Women' chart) and tenor Roberto Alagna, will perform together on the Long Meadow Ballfields on June 20 at 8 p.m., together with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. This year's Prospect Park concert is anticipated to be one of the Metropolitan Opera’s largest outdoor concerts in company history. They're expecting an audience of 100,000!
If you miss this opportunity, you'll have to wait until New Years Eve and the Met's gala premiere of Puccini’s La Rondine. >Expect to pay a little more.

"Bleeding chunks" program planned.

The happily married couple of Gheorghiu and Alagna will sing popular arias and duets by Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, Massenet, and others, conducted by Ion Marin.
Gheorghiu and Alagna will perform on a larger-than-normal super mega stage, surrounded by six jumbo-tron like video screens that will be strategically placed throughout the Great Meadow to maximize the viewing experience.










































Looks like they are prepared for an overflowing crowd as the Jumbo-Tron screens and speaker towers are being set up at a great distance from the actual performers. The way things are being staged, concert goers can enter just about anywhere along the Park Slope side of the park to find good seating. If you want to be close to the stage arrive at either the Park's 9th St. or 15th St. entrances.
>Tourists, just t
ake the F train to the 7th Avenue/9th St. stop and walk uphill for two blocks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

325 20th Street: Contractor gets "Lynched"...again








































"Failure to Provide Adequate Protection."


Surveying the damage to the back yard garden at 327 20th Street. Looks as if the shoring may have failed, leading to the cave-in and yet another Stop Work Order for Tao Construction, Inc.
A "brief" DOB history of 325 20th Street

2-16-2008
CALLER STATES THAT THE NEXT PROPERTY OVER HAS AN EMPTY LOT AND HAS DONE SOME DIGGING THAT HAS PUT HIS PROPERTY IN DANGER OF COLLAPSE AND HAS CAUSED SOME DAMAGE FOR THE PAST MONTH OR SO. BUILDING SHAKING/VIBRATING/STRUCTURAL STABILITY AFFECTED.


2-18-2008 STOP WORK ORDER VIOLATION SERVED FOR NON-COMPLIANT AFTER HOURS WORK. DOB VIOLATION ISSUED FOR FAILURE TO CARRY PERMITTED WORK
DOB Violation #:021708CNE01GA


3-17-2008 FULL STOP WORK ORDER SERVED
FAILURE TO PROVIDE PROTECTION TO ADJ PROPERTY 321 20 ST. FOUNDATION WALL HAS CRACKS/BRICK FACADE HAS CRACKS.

3-18-2008 ECB Violation Number: 34630176L TAO CONSTRUCTION INC.
Infraction Codes: B32 27-1032 FAILURE TO PROVIDE PROTECTION AT SIDES OF EXCAVATION

Description of Violation:
STOP ALL WORK. FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY PROTECT THE SIDES OF AN EXCAVATION CARRIED TO A DEPTH GREATER THAN 5 FEET NOTED: @ TIME OF INSPECTION,
UNDERPINNING COMPLETED ALONG # 327 & # 321 2O STREET AND A SHEER CUT AP

3-18-2008 ECB Violation Number: 34630177N TAO CONSTRUCTION INC .
Infraction Codes:
BP6 27-147 WORK WITHOUT A PERMIT - HAZARDOUS
STOP ALL WORK. WORK W/O A PERMIT. NOTED: @ TIME OF INSPECTION CONSTRUCTION SITE. UNDERPINNING COMPLETED ALONG SIDE LOT # 327 & # 321 20 ST ( JOB# 310087713 APPROVED FOR UNDERPINNING ONLY) JOB SITE WITH FOOTINGS IN.

3-26-2008 321 20th Street: BUILDING SHAKING/VIBRATING/STRUCTURAL STABILITY AFFECTED. LARGE CRACK IN FOUNDATION AT FRONT OF BUILDING . WINDOWS ARE ALSO SLANTING.
DOB Violation #032808CEX01MP

3-28-2008 VIOLATION SERVED PRE-EXISTING CRACKS AT 321 20th STREET BUILDING HAVE WIDENED DUE TO CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY AT ADJ. LOT

4-1-2008 BOROUGH COMMISSIONER HAS ISSUED A 10-DAY LETTER OF INTENT TO REVOKE APPLICATION NUMBER 302331616 ON 03/27/08. ISSUE DOB STOP ORDER & NOTE THE PERCENTAGE OF WORK COMPLETED.

4-5-2008 ECB Violation Number: 34643620L TAO CONSTRUCTION INC
Infraction Codes:
BL8 27-1009(A) FAILURE TO SAFEGUARD PUBLIC / PROPERTY EFFECTED BY DEMO.
Description of Violation:
FAILURE TO SAFEGUARD PUBLIC & PROPERTY AFFECTED BY DEMO OPERATIONS. UP
ON INSPECTION AT 325 20TH ST 2 STORIES BLDG IS DOWN, SITE IS GRADED, CONTRACTOR IS ASKING FOR SIGN OFF ON DEMO, ADJACENT PROPERTY 327 20TH ST.

4-10-2008 PARTIAL STOP WORK ORDER LIFT TO INSTALLED RAKERS ONLY.

4-13-2008 REMEDIAL SHORING WORK UP AGAINST 321 20th ST. ONGOING TO SAFE GUARD BLDG

5-13-2008 ECB Violation Number: 34630308Y TAO CONSTRUCTION INC
Infraction Codes:
B34 27-1031 FAILURE TO PROTECT ADJOINING STRUCTURES DURING EXCAVATION.
Description of Violation:
(A)(B) FAILURE TO ADEQUATELY SUPPORT ADJOINING GROUNDS AND STRUCTURES
AFFECTED BY EXCAVATION. NOTED: AT TIME OF INSPECTION. A STOP WORK ORDER IN EFFECT V#031808CEXOINDC ISSUED ON 3/18/08. PILES DRIVEN AGAINST

5-14-2008 FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH STOP WORK ORDER.
- BUILDING VIOLATION ISSUED FOR FAILURE TO OBEY STOP WORK ORDER
Comments: SHORING FOR SUPPORT OF EXCAVATION COMPLETED AT EXP 2/4 UNDER PINNING WORK IN PROGRESS FOR BLDG AT EXP4
DOB Violation #:051308CEX01NDC

6-6-2008 FULL RESCIND OF STOP WORK ORDER. ALL PLANS WERE AMENDED AND ALL REMEDIAL WORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED AS PER SEP/EXCAVATION UNIT


6-11-2008 311 Complaint: CALLER STATES THERE IS CONSTRUCTION GOING ON AT THE LOCATION GIVEN & DAMAGE HAS BEEN DONE TO THE NEIGHBORING PROPERTY (THE BLDG & BACKYARD) ADJACENT BUILDINGS - NOT PROTECTED

6-11-2008 DoB Violation served #061208CO701RH

6-12-2008 FULL STOP WORK ORDER SERVED
FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE PROTECTION AT SIDES OF EXCAVATION. DUE TO INADEQUATE PROTECTION PARTIAL COLLAPSE OF ADJACENT"


6-13-2008 "UPON INSPECTION, INSTALLATION OF SOLDIER PILES WAS VIEWED TO BE CONTRARY TO APPROVED PLANS. STOP WORK ORDER SEP/EXCAVATION UNIT
Contractor ordered to fill in and make level excavation.
















As Seen in the NEW YORK TIMES: "From Cracks to Falling Cranes, a Big Job for Building Inspectors"

321 20th Street: DOB Crack monitors installed over cracks in front facade.




















Thanks all those who contributed photos used in this post. -IMBY

Prospect Park Hawk Makes a Killing


















That dark shaped object on the far right is the hawk. From the safe distance of the foot path, you could actually hear what sounded like bones crunching as the pigeon's corpse was being torn into shreds. During the 15 minutes that I watched the hawk eat his lunch, he never seemed distracted in the least by the small group of children and their caretakers who had stopped to behold the curious sight.

Which reminds me...Anyone see the White Squirrel around the Harmony Playground lately? Last time I saw him was last Fall. Let's hope there was no fowl play surrounding his disappearance. Maybe he moved back to the Midwest.





































video

City Birdwatching Links:

www.urbanhawks.blogs.com

www.yojimbot.blogspot.com

Friday, June 13, 2008

Brooklyn's Memorial Baptist Church Photo Tour
























Memorial Baptist Church
1506 8th Avenue, Park Slope Brooklyn. LINK

Our post on Saturday, June 07, 2008 "Special Enforcement Needed to Save Brooklyn's Memorial Baptist Church: Recent Crack Comparison Data is in." focused on the very real physical threat to this century old church building. This week we see just what's at stake. Just what do we have to lose?















































8th Avenue Triptych




































The Choir Balcony, with it's sliding stained glass doors seen in their closed position.























The crazy quilt floor of the balcony. tiers illuminated by the light from the setting sun.




Pastor Stephen Christopher, in the organ loft.














The Pipes














































The W. B. Williams Co. 1894



Organ Stops (levers on the right and left) are identified at the Console by the names of the pipes that they control. So the Stop that controls the Open Diapason rank has "Open Diapason" inscribed on the Stop Knob. Also inscribed is a number that corresponds to the length in feet of the longest pipe within that rank, so that the organist has some idea of the pitch. link























The Wind
Indicator. Why not Wind-icator?


Interesting passion...
The New York City Organ Project.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Nice things, in my back yard.



































Spiderwort is a compact, clump-forming herbaceous perennial which typically grows to 12" tall. Purplish-blue (concord grape), three-petaled flowers (to 1.5" diameter) accented by contrasting yellow stamens are borne in terminal clusters (umbels) atop stiff stems. Numerous flower buds form in each cluster, but individual flowers open up only a few at a time, each for only one day, blooming in succession from May into August. Arching, iris-like, smoky, bluish-green leaves are folded lengthwise forming a groove. When the stems of spiderwort are cut, a viscous stem secretion is released which becomes thread-like and silky upon hardening (like a spider's web), hence the common name.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mr. Lattarulo's engineer?

KINGS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHARLES J. HYNES, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION COMMISSIONER ROSE GILL HEARN AND NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER ROBERT LIMANDRI ANNOUNCE INDICTMENT IN DEADLY CONSTRUCTION COLLAPSE

CONTRACTOR CHARGED WITH MANSLAUGHTER

Brooklyn, June 11, 2008 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes, New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn, and New York City Department of Buildings Acting Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the indictment of William Lattarulo for his role in a construction collapse that killed a 30-year-old laborer, Lauro Ortega.

Lattarulo is charged with Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Two Counts of Reckless Endangerment in the First Degree and Two counts of Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree.

“If not for this defendant’s callous selfishness and complete disregard for the safety of his workers, Lauro Ortega would be alive today,” said District Attorney Hynes. “In his hasty attempt to cut corners and reduce his own expenses, William Lattarulo cost another man his life. I would like to thank Commissioner Gill Hearn and Commissioner LiMandri for their help in this case.”

“Today’s indictment serves as a warning that there are serious consequences for cutting corners by ignoring safety regulations,” said Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri. “We do not tolerate builders who prioritize expedient development over safe construction practices, and we will continue to hold them accountable for threatening New Yorkers’ safety.”

DOI Commissioner Gill Hearn said, “DOI’s investigation shows that by ignoring the building code William Lattarulo undermined the foundation of his building, caused the death of his worker and put other lives at risk. The harm he is charged with causing cannot be undone, but the indictment announced today demonstrates that anyone who acts so recklessly will be held accountable. I want to thank District Attorney Hynes for pursuing this important prosecution.”

On March 12, 2008, Lattarulo was having laundromat built on a vacant lot, at 791-793 Glenmore Ave., in East New York, which he owned. The adjacent building, which Lattarulo also owned, had a foundation that extended several feet below ground, but the laundromat’s basement would go down much deeper than the existing residential building next door.

The indictment charges that, despite repeated warnings from several people, including a consultant he was required to hire to inspect the work, Lattarulo failed to properly support the neighboring foundation, as the new building’s foundation was being dug. As a result of that failure, the indictment charges, Ortega, an undocumented immigrant earning $100 a day, was crushed when the building’s foundation buckled under its own, improperly supported weight and pressure from the earth beneath it.

The charges against Lattarulo stem from his lack of experience in construction, his failure to properly establish “underpinning”, his failure to hire someone with the proper expertise and experience in constructing underpinning, and his failure to build braces to support the underpins below the foundation wall of the adjacent building. Underpinning involves digging narrow trenches beneath a foundation – one at a time – building support walls, or “underpins”, from the bottoms of the trenches to the base of the foundation, and backfilling the trenches. It is essential that underpinnings be braced, because they are prone to buckling, under the weight of the building above them and pressure from the earth beneath the building.

An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.

DOI investigators working on the case included DOI’s Inspector General for the Department of Buildings Michael Carroll and members of his staff, including Investigators Robert Miller, Nicholas Novellino, Sadie Lopez, Assistant Chief Investigator James McElligott, and Deputy Chief Investigator Crissy DeAngelo, under the direction of DOI Associate Commissioner John B. Kantor.

The case is being prosecuted by Rackets Division Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph DiBenedetto. Rackets Division Bureau Chief Gavin Miles, Counsel to the Rackets Division Monique Ferrell, and Deputy District Attorney Joseph Petrosino also worked on the case. Michael Vecchione is Chief of the Rackets Division.






And from todays New York Times additional reporting.






Contractor Charged With Manslaughter

Published: June 12, 2008

A Brooklyn contractor is being charged with manslaughter today in connection with an accident on a construction site in March that killed a worker who was digging a foundation, according to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office.

The contractor, William Lattarulo, is accused in the indictment of ignoring clear safety hazards and forcing his employees to endanger themselves so he could keep his construction moving forward. The indictment marks an unusual step for prosecutors, who rarely press charges against contractors. But it comes amid a spate of construction accidents that have killed or injured dozens of people and cast the city’s contractors and buildings inspectors in an unforgiving light.

The accident occurred on the morning of March 12 when a worker, Louro Ortega, was digging the foundation for a commercial building at 791 Glenmore Avenue in East New York. According to the authorities, Mr. Lattarulo, who owns several adjacent houses on the lot, was warned by a consultant and a more experienced contractor at the site that the new foundation was lower than the foundation beside it and needed underpins to keep it stable.

Instead of heeding those warnings, the authorities said, Mr. Lattarulo ordered Mr. Ortega to keep digging. Moments later, part of a wall from a residential building next door collapsed and sent rubble spilling onto Mr. Ortega, killing him and injuring another worker on the site.

The contractor was warned by others on the site that the wall wouldn’t hold, said a city official involved in the investigation who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the matter.

Patricia J. Lancaster, the former buildings commissioner, visited the site later that day and said there was “evidence of shoddy work conditions” and that the work should not have been going on.

Three people who were inside the residential building, 795 Glenmore Avenue, escaped unharmed but were left homeless and had to be provided shelter by the Red Cross. The rest of the building was later pulled down.

"...investigation into whether an engineer who had been barred from construction work was illegally working at the site."

Mr. Lattarulo was immediately issued at least eight violations and the project was shut down. He is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon on a manslaughter charge, the authorities said. They also said that they were continuing an investigation into whether an engineer who had been barred from construction work was illegally working at the site.

New York has seen a number of recent construction accidents, including a series of crane accidents this year that have killed nine people and injured 28. In the aftermath of one crane disaster in March that killed seven people, Ms. Lancaster resigned from her post as buildings commissioner and the agency came under intense scrutiny. Two months later, another crane collapsed on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, killing two people and badly damaging a luxury apartment building.



ECB VIOLATIONS:



Inadequate...Incomplete...Insufficient.








Inappropriate... Uncontrolled...Irresponsible.






IMBY ARCHIVES:Louis Sanchez and Henry Radusky: Where have we heard these names before?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

James Brennan's letter to Commissioner LiMandri

June 2, 2008

Commissioner Robert LiMandri
NYC Department of Buildings
280 Broadway
New York, NY 10007

Re: 406-408 15th St., Brooklyn

Dear Commissioner LiMandri,

I understand that top DOB management are consumed by recent events involving the crane accident last Friday. I very much appreciate the time Mr. Lynch took on Friday to visit 406-408 15th St. to inspect damage caused by that construction to numerous properties on 8th Ave. and on 16th St.

I am writing to reiterate my position and call on DOB to issue a stop work order on this site to protect public safety and to arrest the disastrous damage to adjacent properties.

As you know, catastrophic undermining has caused 1504 8th Ave. - until recently an intact, 8-unit solid brick apartment building – to be vacated; its back wall has been removed; its foundation is cracking; there are stress signs throughout the building; it is listing toward the new construction. We cannot wait for other buildings on 8th Ave. and 16th St. to collapse as well. According to DOB Inspector Ross, the condition of Memorial Baptist Church at 1506 8th Ave. is markedly worse than it was a month ago. During the inspection on Friday, Inspector Ross found that the crack in the side corner of the church was significantly wider than it was just a month ago. A gap has appeared in the shared wall between the church and 399 16th St. as the church apparently is pulling away in the direction of the site. Sinkholes have appeared at the property line between 1502 8th Ave. and 399 16th St.

The deep undermining has profound implications for public safety and for the structural integrity – present and future - of many surrounding properties. The damage that has occurred is obvious; it is unacceptable that it is continuing to occur without correction. Public safety demands a stop work order and immediate implementation of an effective remediation plan, overseen by the DOB.

In addition, on behalf of the adjacent owners, I request the following documents: (1) most recent foundation plans, (2) all geotechnical documents, including boring tests, and (3) proof of insurance.

Again, I very much appreciate Mr. Lynch’s inspection of the surrounding properties, especially at such a difficult time. I hope to discuss this urgent matter with you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,



James F. Brennan
Member of Assembly

Cc: Commissioner Magdi Mossad


The Mr. Lynch referred to in Mr. Brennan's letter is actually Timothy D. Lynch, P.E., Chief Engineer, Forensic Engineering Unit, NYC Department of Buildings.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Special Enforcement Needed to Save Brooklyn's Memorial Baptist Church: Recent Crack Comparison Data is in.





















Standing on the brink.
It just so happens that this north eastern corner of the Memorial Baptist Church, 1506 8th Avenue in Brooklyn, is closest to where the Armory Plaza constructed its foundation. It's no more than a half dozen feet away from where all the digging occurred. Beneath this new Armory Plaza building is a three storied
subterranean parking garage, designed and built to cover the entire 100'x100' lot, right up to the property lines of 10 other existing buildings. There are no 30' set backs. No buffer zones.

Was any protective shoring done by the developer of the Armory Plaza prior to the start of their excavation? No. Any underpinning of the hundred and seventeen year old adjacent foundation? Nope. Any site surveys or monitoring of the existing adjoining properties? Nothing really, unless you count reading the 100+ complaints to 311 that show up on the DoB's BIS site. But I doubt they did that even.
The 60' long hollow steel tube piles,
soldiered together side by side, were dropped into pre-drilled shafts, and then absurdly pounded into the ground using the "converted" end of the Kelly Bar of an IMT AF-80 Boring Rig. Settlement, apparently caused by the creation of subsurface voids during the boring process eventually lead to sink holes extending out some distance from the new wall. Of coarse there was also the vibration and shaking to contend with that went on for months as the 200 or so piles were driven. That's gotta hurt.
Vacate Orders and
Stop Work Orders and Partial Stop Work Orders soon followed. The Church's neighbor, 1504 8th Avenue, was not able to withstand the same assault. It now stands propped up like an empty coffin, its entire rear facade and part of the side masonry wall have been removed and shrouded with plywood. And then there is our Church.

In the beginning.
The first signs of cracking. Photo dated 1-6-2007. (If you choose to click on any of these pictures, they will expand to full size in another window.)





















Detail below of same corner wall: 1-6-2007























As the crack widened significantly...
and after numerous complaints, a special meeting with Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Magdi Mossad, PE, was called. As a result of this meeting the DoB installed a single crack monitor in the Church's damaged interior and then left, not to return for almost a year.
Photo dated 8-9-2007























The inspectors return: Below the same crack monitor 10 months later, photo below dated 6-6-2008, showing continuing movement. New cracks are actively appearing daily in other locations through out the Church even as the Armory Plaza nears completion of its building.

Time for the NYC Buildings Department Special Enforcement Teams Forensic Engineers to step up to the plate and ensure the present and future safety of Memorial Baptist Church and the other properties that have been harmed during the building of the Armory Plaza.

















































Detail 6-6-2008























The bigger picture: 6-6-2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Armory Plaza seeing red: "Tangent piles not in line with grade beam."


















"Comments: LOT LINE WINDOWS, TANGENT PILES NOT IN LINE WITH GRADE BEAM AS PER APPROVED PLANS - SWO RECIND BY BORO COMM. APPROVAL"


















DOB BIS PAGE FOR 406 15TH STREET















COMPLAINT #111




























§ 27-201 Compliance with application, plans, etc. All work shall conform to the approved application and accompanying plans and papers, and any approved amendments thereto.























Pile Caps and Grade Beams


Pile Caps installed back in March of 2007. The pour gets funky along the 8th Avenue line. It looks like they used the existing plywood construction fence for the outside wall of the forms. Notice the variation in width?