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March 19, 2008

The Parks Department may take our green spaces but the Buildings Department can take our lives

I was forwarded this email from a concerned Queens neighbor concerning recent events:

The Parks Department may take our green spaces

but the Buildings Department can take our lives.

No, this e-mail is not about parks, although, as usual

we have good and not-so-hot news on that front.

Today is all about buildings.

As you know, once again, despite repeated complaints

from the community, the community association, the community board

and every single local elected representative,

the Buildings Department failed to protect a neighborhood from

a construction crane's falling, crushing several buildings,

this time taking several lives in midtown Manhattan.

This is only the latest in a continuing series of tragedies --

illegal conversions, fires, collapsing buildings, & falling scaffolds and cranes.

According to public figures cited yesterday

by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer,

" the number of safety violations at high-rise construction sites

nearly doubled between November 2006 and November 2007."

Yet as the list of disaster continued to grow, no Mayor, regardless of party,

ever exercised executive control over this wayward agency.

Last January, after a similar construction accident in downtown Manhattan, Stringer "called for the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement

or a similar agency to take over construction site safety.

Special Enforcement is an elite unit staffed by police, fire and building inspectors.

The unit is responsible for interagency enforcement of a broad range of quality of life issues, including illegal building uses...[leading Stringer to suggest] that the unit's mandate be expanded to include an independent, interagency approach to construction safety."

To find out more about Scott's proposal, call his office at 212-669-8300.

To find out more about your own Borough President's plans, call him/her.

It is melodramatic but true:

The life you save may be your own.

Carol Schachter Carol Greitzer Carol Rinzler Pat Dolan