We’re shocked that the City has issued permits to Thor Equities for pre-demolition asbestos abatement during Coney Island’s summer season. Couldn’t Joe Sitt be persuaded to wait till October to get on with his dirty work of demolishing the historic buildings that he owns in Coney Island?
Joey Bulldozer Sitt, who has ZERO rides and attractions on his Stillwell lots this season, contributes ZERO to the Coney Island community. While Coney Island’s stakeholders are busy working to make this summer the best in decades, the only thing Joe Sitt is busy doing is turning the rest of his Coney property into empty lots asap. Too bad New York City is not ancient Athens, where citizens considered dangerous to public welfare were banished!
The permit from the City’s Department of Environmental Protection is dated June 1, 2010 and runs through January 2011. Is the City monitoring the air around the doomed Bank of Coney Island or leaving it up to Thor’s team to keep us safe from inhaling asbestos fibers and dust? Here’s where we start to be concerned…
Workers have been doing asbestos abatement at the bank building on weeknights for the past two weeks. Last week another Coney Island photographer was threatened by a thuggish worker who made a grab for his camera as he was snapping photos. Did they have something to hide or were they merely camera shy? Today for the first time the crew worked daytime hours. Early this morning some kind of white covering appeared on the rooftop, but caution tape did not materialize on the street until 1 pm. Sounds of heavy machinery in bank. Observers tell ATZ it looked like they were cutting and removing pipes and metal. While some workers wore hazmat-type gear, others were seen working inside the building in street clothes, no hard hats. Around 3 pm, they put garbage bags full of material in the back of a closed unmarked truck.
Uh, do we have to point out that asbestos is considered dangerous? Since there is no known safe level of exposure, all asbestos exposure should be avoided. Anyone who is exposed to asbestos can get mesothelioma. “Workers who deal with this deadly material often carried microscopic asbestos fibers home with them in their clothes and hair, which caused secondary exposure to their families and friends. Over time, these innocent victims can develop mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other fatal conditions.”
See “A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Bank of Coney Island” (ATZ, Oct 9 2009) for a look at a building that is not long for this world. The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission rejected Save Coney Island’s proposal to landmark the bank building and three other historic buildings. The other three –the Grashorn and Henderson and the Shore Hotel — are probably next on the abatement list. One day last week when we passed by the vacant Shore Hotel, we saw the shuttered first floor open. A man was inside taking notes. Since the Henderson and Bank of Coney were doomed by last year’s rezoning for 30 story hotel towers, it’s doubtful that Save Coney Island’s continuing efforts to save them will succeed. So what’s your hurry, Joe?
UPDATE August 14, 2010:
We’re sorry to report the demolition permit for the bank building was issued yesterday– Friday the 13th. It was no surprise because on Wednesday the sidewalks around the Thor-owned building were being dug up to disconnect sewer and water lines in preparation. How inexpressibly sad to see the potential here and what will be gone forever in a matter of days. Don’t bother calling the DOB to complain either. It’s final! According to the permit: “This job is not subject to the Department’s Development Challenge Process. For any issues, please contact the relevant borough office.” Joe Sitt will soon have another empty lot to add to his collection of empty lots.
UPDATE June 14, 2010:
Soon after our post, we received an email from contributing photographer Bruce Handy with links to his flickr photo set of asbestos removal signs at the Shore Hotel, seen during Save Coney Island’s Historic Walking Tour on June 13. We bet the other two buildings have permits, too. Too bad the DOB doesn’t list these permits on the Bank of Coney’s and Shore Hotel’s pages on the DOB site, where people have been keeping an eye out for news! According to the DEP’s website, the City’s permitting process for asbestos abatement has been moved from the DOB to the DEP’s office in Lefrak City.