NYCOSH Executive Director Charlene Obernauer describing the Astoria Cove construction site during a community inspection

Elected Officials, BUNYC Activists and Neighbors Perform Community Inspection of Astoria Cove Lot

Members of the team participating in the Community Inspection of the Astoria Cove site

Members of the team participating in the Community Inspection of the Astoria Cove site

The proposed Astoria Cove development site promised much in the way of community benefits for its neighbors and jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits for the construction and service workers that were to build and operate the development.  However, it has become a source of frustration to its neighbors who complain about the trash-strewn lot with buildings in various states of demolition and no evidence of the bright development planned for the community.

The neighbors of the project site, joined by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Member Costa Constantinides (D-22nd District), mounted a community inspection of the lot Thursday morning.

Katz said it is not too late for Astoria Cove’s owner to do the right thing by the neighborhood.

“The Astoria Cove development team had made commitments to our neighborhood including affordable housing, more classroom spaces for schoolchildren and good jobs,” she said. “The developer can still choose to live up to its agreements.”

NYCOSH  Executive Director Charlene Obernauer, accompanied by an industrial hygienist and a Safety and Health Specialist, led the community inspection. 

The site was in poor condition with oil stains sitting in top of the puddles. The lot appeared vacant, except for building shells with unsecured scaffolds, building shells, and drums. While no one was working, it didn’t appear the site was in any condition for work to be performed.

She pointed out that a 2013 the environmental site assessment cited many sources of potential contamination, including historic leaks, known above-ground storage tanks, suspected underground storage tanks, asbestos containing material and/or lead-based paint. 

She called for city, state and federal agencies to expedite their oversight of the site to ensure   that no such contaminants were on site. She also called on the DOB to investigate for potential violations of building code.

Constantinides thanked Build Up NYC for fighting to protect the community.

“Build Up New York has made sure that even after we put pen to paper, that we are not letting those promises fall by the wayside,” he said. “We will continue to stand arm in arm with Build Up New York, with unions, with the men and women of this neighborhood to make sure that the words on those paper that we agreed to, that are legally binding, are lived up to.

Jeannie Ortiz said she first moved into a building in front of the Astoria Cove site as a 7-year-old girl and she remembered it was neighborhood kids’ own little paradise. For the last 18 months, the area has been a vacant lot filled with the shells of buildings and debris.

As the New York Daily News reported on Sunday (bit.ly/AstoriaCove), the proposed Astoria Cove development site has become source of frustration for its neighbors.

Alma Realty, the owner of the site, and its developer, 2030 Astoria Developers, made agreements to create good jobs with family sustaining wages and benefits by hiring safe, responsible contractors. However, when work began on the project over a year ago at the site, the developer used contractors that do not participate in the state approved training and apprenticeship program. They also agreed to provide affordable housing and a school in the project to the Astoria community. Now it looks like they may be attempting to sell the site before fulfilling these commitments.

State Assembly Member Catherine Nolan (D-37th district) said the environmental issues at the Astoria Cove site concern her.

“My office has been in correspondence with the property owner, unions and various government agencies to get the answers that the community needs,” Nolan said in a statement. “I look forward to continue working with all parties involved to ensure that we continue to develop responsibly and our surrounding community remains safe.”

Build Up NYC is an alliance of working men and women committed to responsible development and good jobs that sustain the middle class and a level playing field for responsible employers.

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