Battered Nerves

Excavation creates a site for sore ears


Bang. Bang, Bang. Bang.

It’s like a powerful drumbeat reverberating through the neighborhood as construction crews break up a series of rocks that once made up stone ledges at 3482 Fort Independence St. And neighbors are angry.

Stagg Group — the developer already under fire for suddenly turning apartments at 5731 Broadway into a transitional facility for the homeless — is clearing away rock to build a six-story apartment complex.

The constant noise has ruined the quality of life in the vicinity, residents said, and they’re calling on Stagg to lower the volume, or find some other quieter way to clear out the rock.

“It’s this constant hammering,” said Bob Drake, whose apartment sits directly in front of the site. “One time I measured it in my bedroom and it was the decibel level of having a motorcycle in the room.”

Drake, who lives on the seventh floor of 3489 Fort Independence St. said the noise from the site is louder on the higher floors of his building because there is no wall or covering to muffle the sound. Stagg has something like that already at ground level in front of the construction site that muffles the sound. Drake would like to see something similar placed to the same height as his apartment to lessen the noise coming from the site.

Or, Stagg could simply reduce the number of breakers — also known as hoe rams — used to cut up the series of rock ledges.

When Drake measured the sound from the sidewalk using a pair of smartphone apps, he got a reading above 85 decibels — equivalent to traffic noise in midtown Manhattan, according to a city noise guide. When he’s tested the noise levels in his apartment, the readings have come in as high as 96 decibels, or similar to a train.

Because of the change in decibel levels from the sidewalk to his seventh-floor apartment, Drake questions how the city measures the sound since he is finding such disparity between both locations.

Drake is a chemistry professor at Fordham University. When he’s not teaching a class, he’s working from home. However, because the construction noise is so loud, he cannot open the window to get fresh air because it means even more noise, he said. Also, it’s difficult to have a telephone conversation.

Jeanette Cordero, who lives near the construction, said she wears earplugs and headphones — like the ones construction workers wear — to muffle the sounds of the constant hammering, which happens between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays. It’s even affected her when workers aren’t there, she added, struggling to get a decent night of sleep since work began last May.

At 78, Cordero said the loud noise, the continuous banging and the resulting stress are just not healthy.

“This is beyond anything I’ve ever experienced,” said Dart Westphal, who lives approximately 500 feet away on Orloff Avenue “There was the construction of a building on Cannon, which is going to be turned into a library. That was also a lot of rock drilling. And the pile driving when they built the B.J.’s (Wholesale Club) was difficult to live through. But, this was the first time right in the middle of the neighborhood there has been anything this big that I can remember.”

Rey Rosa, who lives on the second floor of Drake’s building, said he’s in a tough spot at the front of the building where the construction noise is loud.

“I don’t know if they could do much about it unless they put barriers,” said Rosa, who retired from the city’s buildings department in the 1990s. “To me, on a construction site, it would be normal. And … I’ve been on many construction sites.”

Stagg does not have a lot of fans in the area, especially when it comes to leaders like Community Board 8 land use committee chair Charles Moerdler.

“If I had to give an award to the worst neighbor in this community, (Stagg) would win it hands down,” Moerdler said. “We have been in constant communication with the buildings department, the department of environmental protection, who handles noise complaints, with a variety of city agencies. They come. They give a summons. (Stagg is) back at it next day.”

But the city’s environmental protection department says the work at 3482 Fort Independence is above-board. Agency spokeswoman Tara Deighan told The Riverdale Press by email that backhoe hammer readings are within the legally allowable 85 decibels. DEP has been to the site “several” times, she added.

Stagg, through a limited liability company 3069 Cannon Place, purchased the Fort Independence property in December 2014 for $3.5 million, according to city property records. The company is using a construction loan of more than $15 million to finance work there.

“We have taken aggressive measures to mitigate the noise by using sound-muffled hammers and wrapping them with sound-attenuating blankets,” said Jay Martino, the company’s senior vice president of construction, in a statement. “We are also using a drill to facilitate the excavation of the hard rock and minimize the vibration telegraphed when hammering this hard material.”

“The scaffolding meets (the city’s) requirements for sidewalk safety and protecting the public from debris,” Martino said. “The scaffolding is not meant to, nor can it mitigate noise levels.”

But that doesn’t seem to be enough for residents, who likely will have to suffer through construction noise for at least another year — Stagg is scheduled to finish 3482 Fort Independence in January 2019.

“It’s completely unbelievable that we have to live through this for all of these months,” Westphal said, “and it’s not over yet.”


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Community watchdogs should be on the lookout for another Stagg bait and switch because I can't for the life of me figure out how this project works out economically.

15 million to remove a veritable near mountain of solid bedrock only to build a six story building? How will they ever make their money back? Perhaps there are other secret plans in the work?

Also, the removal of this rock seems to be pretty dangerous thing to do as it stabilizes a pretty steep slope. Now that it is being removed, will Sholem Aleichem houses be structurally safe? Not being an engineer I can't say one way or another, but this project stinks to high heaven and I really feel for people who have to live within its shadow.

Friday, October 6, 2017
Democrap 4 life

A local plumbing contractor withdrew all his permits and stated "Mark is very untrustworthy" The plumber said he not only works in Riverdale he has lived her since 1962

As a democrat I love having homeless and people on methadone living in our mist as this is why we democraps can make sure a republican never gets into office in my area

It is great that socialism taught in public schools as this what we libertards thrive for as we are "entitled" for free medical, very low rent housing and food stamps on demand.

We need to allow the Stagg group to build in Vanny park as there is enough room to build several 6 story no income housing like they may build on 261 street and Riverdale ave

Seems there is a double standard as usual as when SAR high school was being build the noise went on for months but considering most of the liberal democrats send their children there we seemed to over look that attack on our quality of life

Mark Stagg is what I would consider pay back to all the hypocrites in this area that scream about not enough low income housing in NYC but not in our backyard

Liberals scream the republicans only want rich people in NYC and we democrats surly want the poorest of the poor to have decent housing so Mark Stagg is the angel sent to make our desires come true .

Be careful what you wish for as I heard there is land available behind ethical culture building that could be used for unwed mother housing

Sunday, October 8, 2017
BX Developer

Ask Mark Stagg about the housing he did in Ossining NY where he was given a stop work order when a building was undermined and almost gave way until Badaly & Badaly Architects - Architects - 2 Wilson Pl, Mount Vernon ... was called in to stabilize the structure

Don't believe it call Badaly yourself

Seems this is not the first time Mark was told to stop all work

By the way because NYC is a sanctuary safe haven there is no reason why INS should spot check Marks employees many of whom (hint) do not have proper working papers and possible fake social security numbers IMHO

About how will Mark make a profit Truthteller you seem to forget

NY has the best politicians money can buy and the so called grants left over from the Obama administration for low income housing will more then cover the mountain of rock removal

Mark can play the system like a Stratovarius and someone should look into his employee connections with local politicians. Does the name Sheldon Silver ring a bell? How about the past borough president?

Sunday, October 8, 2017