Shorting out in B’hurst

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Transit Authority substation is short-circuiting the quality of life on a Bensonhurst block, a state lawmaker recently charged.

Assemblymember William Colton said the property, located at 167 Avenue T, is an example of the high price residents pay for “governmental neglect.”

In a letter to New York City Transit President Howard Roberts, Colton blasted the “deplorable” and “longstanding” conditions in and around the builidng that he said have vexed local residents for over a decade.

The problems at the site, the lawmaker said, are many.

Scaffolding has surrounded the property for years, Colton said, presumably to protect passersby from loose exterior brickwork.

But the long-term presence of the scaffolding has had unintended—and unwanted—consequenc­es.

“Young vandals gain access to the area behind the wooden panels of the scaffolding and use it as a hidden haven for illicit activities, creating a security hazard for the residents on the surrounding blocks,” Colton said. Poor maintenance inside and in front of a gated area attracts vermin, further deteriorating quality of life for locals, he added.

“The building’s structure has to be corrected and the scaffolding removed,” Colton said. “The scaffolding attracts young people...they climb up there and it’s like a secret hideaway.”

Most egregious, the state lawmaker said, is a gated shed that encloses a circuit box, which Colton said he visited personally last month.

What he found, he said, was shocking.

“Not only was the gated area open and unsecured, but the electrical circuit box had an unlocked padlock, making the circuit box unsecured to vandals,” Colton’s letter reads.

“Clearly, you would not want just anybody to have access to that,” he said in a follow-up interview.

A return visit found the circuit box padlocked, but the gated area leading to the shed unsecured, he noted.

Lastly, Colton said, a wall along a driveway is badly deteriorating.

“The wall has gaping holes and some of the metal poles supporting it have broken away from the wall. It is also badly marred with graffiti. Young vandals hang out in this unlit area and have been seen throwing rocks and other objects at the passing N line subway cars below,” he said.

“All of these conditions are causing a tremendous strain on the quality of life of the families living around it. It also poses a serious threat to the passengers and train crews of the passing N trains,” Colton wrote.

Deirdre Parker, a spokesperson for NYC Transit, said sidewalk sheds were installed along two sides of the building in 2002 after a section of the decorative cornice below the parapet fell to the ground.

A structural inspection found deterioration of sections of the cornice around the perimeter, water infiltration on the interior of the parapet and a need to repoint sections of the parapet, she said.

The repair of the substation parapet has been requested for inclusion in the MTA 2010-2014 capital program, Parker noted.

“Therefore, for safety reasons, the sheds must be kept in place until the repairs are completed and cannot be removed at this time.”

She said the scaffolding is safe.

“The sheds themselves were refurbished in July 2007 replacing all planking, wood panels, and shims. Additionally, the perimeter razor ribbon above the panels was replaced with three strands of barbed wire. The sheds are periodically inspected and elements of the sheds replaced as necessary to maintain the sheds in a state of good repair,” Parker said.

Colton conceded that the problems are the result of “neglect” from a prior administration at the Transit Authority.

Still, he continued, the agency has yet to respond to his letter, dispatched October 21. The hope is to broker a meeting between agency officials and local residents, he said.

“I would like to see them doing some of things they should have done long ago,” Colton said of the agency.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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