So much for a ceasefire at P.S. 64 on East 9th Street. This morning we got word from frantic residents that the demo crew was back chopping at the facade of the landmarked East Village school building. No matter that owner Gregg Singer told us he called off his workers last week in order to restart talks with City Council rep Rosie Mendez in hopes of working out a deal to save the school’s historic face.
In fact, Singer resumed drilling even though, on August 1, a city buildings inspector issued a stop work order at the site for “failing to safeguard” public safety.
Specifically, Singer was cited for failing to install adequate sidewalk sheds to protect passersby from falling debris as his workers strip off blocks of limestone and terra cotta trim from the facade.
According to the permit on file with the Department of Buildings, Singer was supposed to erect two 190-foot sidewalk sheds to line both the East 9th and East 10th street sides of the building. But he evidently skimped and only installed about 60 feet on either side.
Singer was also cited for installing razor wire on those too-small sidewalk sheds (no doubt to keep out pesky rooftop protestors). Razor wire is prohibited in residential areas.
After police arrived on the scene, a contractor called off the wrecking crew at around 10 a.m. when it was made clear that the violation sheet posted on the 10th Street side of the building—which clearly stated “Stop all work”—did in fact constitute a stop work order. The contractor, who gave his name only as Enrique, claimed he was present when the violations were issued last Tuesday and said the buildings inspector left without instructing them to quit.
DOB spokesperson Jennifer Givner said it was SOP to either post the order or serve it in person. “If the inspector was there and it says to stop, I don’t know why they didn’t stop,” said Givner, adding, “They should have stopped.”
In fact, the contractor on the job said they did stop chipping for a few days last week, but only because of the heat.
When reached late in the day, Singer claimed the first he heard about the stop work order was when his security guard called him Monday morning to report that the police were outside. He noted that the inspector wrote his address wrong on the violation sheet, which may be why he never received word by mail.
Singer further claimed he only agreed to stop for two days. He said he put his workers back on the job because “nothing got worked out. Mendez doesn’t want to get [community] space in the building. She doesn’t want to do anything. She wants it to stay the way it is.”
City officials, however, weren’t buying that excuse.
“How can you trust anything this man says?” countered Mendez. “This just shows that it wasn’t a gesture of good will on his part because he had to stop, and now he’s back out there chopping anyway,” she fumed.