Back off! Gerritsen Beachers: We’re overrun by Build it Back!

Brooklyn Daily
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They just can’t win.

Brooklynites have complained since Hurricane Sandy that the Build it Back disaster recovery program moved too slowly, but now that Mayor DeBlasio re-doubled the city’s efforts and set a self-imposed deadline to fix everyone’s homes, Gerritsen Beachers say they’re flooded with salty construction workers who are making their lives a living hell.

“We’re being overrun with the Build it Back constructi­on,” said Yolanda Fazzuoli, who has four construction sites on her block alone. “It’s like a war zone here. It’s making life very difficult.”

Convoys of contractors block the neighborhood’s famously narrow streets from 7 am to 4 pm, making it impossible for residents to get in or out of the peninsular neighborhood’s many dead-end blocks, she said. Worse yet, the city-hired laborers aren’t respecting the very taxpayers they’re supposed to be serving, another resident said.

“The past few mornings it’s been terrible — I’ve gotten into screaming matches with them,” said Brittany Mescall, who claimed the laborers are leaving garbage everywhere. “They don’t care. They’re obnoxious. They block the middle of the street, so when I’m trying to get out, they’re in the middle of the street.”

Residents should only expect the pace of construction to pick up as the program nears its end-of-the-year deadline to repair all single-family homes impacted by the 2012 storm, said Amy Peterson, who directs the city-run, federally-funded recovery effort.

“As we head towards the goal of completing the program by Dec. 31, we are moving more and more homes into construction each day,” she said. “We are coordinating daily with civic associations, local elected officials, and our contractors to make sure that there is minimal disruption, and where there have been complaints we are addressing them quickly,” she said.

The program, started under former mayor Mike Bloomberg, was fraught from the get-go with ineffective case workers and unqualified contractors who soaked the city for millions.

Residents contend the city is not dealing with complaints as well as Peterson claims — it has been about three months since Fazzuoli first started lodging complaints to the city, she said.

“I called 311, and when they came, the crews were gone, so they said the matter is resolved — everybody is in compliance — and that was it,” she said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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