The irony of the Homeless Coalition’s scaffolding
Don’t blame every dangerous or ugly sidewalk scaffold on Local Law 11, which requires them for facade repairs on buildings taller than six floors.
A 55 foot-long jungle gym of steel and timber surrounds the headquarters of the Coalition for the Homeless at 129 Fulton St., in lower Manhattan’s Financial District — even though the building is only four stories high.
The eyesore has stood there for more than four years, making life hell for pedestrians, transit riders and merchants. It looms over the entrances to a 24-hour CVS store and a busy subway entrance. Support poles between the street and sidewalk challenge everyone to find a way through.
Yet, little or no facade work has been done since the scaffold went up — which the nonprofit organization, which owns the building, blames on the city for not giving it the dough.
The Post has been exposing the worst abuses of the scaffolding explosion, including where “sidewalk bridges” have stood for as long as 13 years. The monstrosities damage businesses, invite squalor and sometimes threaten passers-by rather than protect them.
In September, the city’s Environmental Control Board cited the scaffold around 129 Fulton St. for at least four outstanding safety violations shown on the Department of Buildings website.
“Pedestrian protection” measures didn’t comply with building codes due to “bent cross-bracing,” support poles had “sharp edges,” and the landlord had failed, “to perform safe proper inspection of parapet walls” prior to hanging hooks from them.
The landlord was also faulted for having no licensed rigger, foreman or “competent person” on the job while the hooks were being installed.
Dan Levitan of the coalition’s powerhouse public relations firm BerlinRosen said the “minor” violations have been “rectified.”
The Buildings Department has yet to sign off on that claim, however. Levitan said the fixes must first be evaluated by an administrative law judge, but “it takes months.”
In a neighborhood thick with scaffolds, most for new construction projects, the one at 129 Fulton St. is a particular blight. It snakes around parts of three streets — Fulton, Nassau, and Ann.
It’s ironic, given that while the coalition advocates to find housing or humane shelters for the homeless, some indigents take up residence under sidewalk bridges — including the coalition’s at times, neighbors said.
Ashley Candelario, manager of the Potbelly Sandwich Shop next door, at 127 Fulton St., says she sometimes sees them “camped out” when she arrives for work in the morning. The coalition’s scaffold extends across the eatery’s front door.
In fact, the homeless might be more at risk than anyone. One Fulton Street resident said, “I saw a piece of scaffolding [down the block from the coalition] fall next to a homeless man and almost hit him. It’s just a pathetic situation.”
The coalition says its scaffold went up in October 2015 because “the facade was crumbling in several places.” But — despite receiving more than $1 million in annual rent income from CVS, according to the organization’s financial statement — it says it doesn’t have the funds it needs to cover the repairs.
Levitan said the coalition was awarded City Council funds for the job in 2016 but the money hasn’t been released and, in any case, it wouldn’t be enough.
At this rate, the Second Avenue Subway will reach the World Trade Center before Fulton Street sees the sun again.
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