Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fence Repairs Finally Being Completed At City Hall Park

A section of the cracked granite fence

A section of the cracked granite fence base. Workers have finally begun replacing broken granite curbs and fence posts around City Hall and its four-acre park - seven years after the city sued Barney Skanska Construction Co. and its subcontractors who installed them. The park was renovated during the Giuliani administration. (Photo: Chad Rachman/NewYork Post)

Under a settlement finally reached this year taxpayers will not be on the hook for the estimated $1.1 million in repair costs.

Unfortunately the taxpayers weren't so lucky on another part of the City Hall Park renovation project. In February 2008 crews started blasting the sidewalks that surround the entire park including City Hall with a blowtorch - "thermal roughening," to burn away the slippery top layer of stone.

In 2008 the city was forced to pay $ 1 million dollars to fix a poorly designed sidewalk after a Parks Department's then unlicensed landscape architect choose to use bluestone.

According to several city sources controversial parks landscape architect - and real estate agent - George Vellonakis was repeatedly told not to use that material by colleagues because the material was too slippery and people might get hurt.

Beginning in at least 2002 the city's legal department had known about the problem after lawyer Steven Kartagener slipped on a rainy, leaf-covered slab in November 2002 and tore the meniscus and ligaments in his knee.

He filed a notice of claim against the city, but did not file suit. However, a woman who slipped on ice and snow there in 2002 sued for her injuries and won a $15,000 settlement, according to the New York Daily News from a story broke by NYC Park Advocates.

The City however didn't bother to get around to thinking it was a problem worth fixing until late 2007 when Mayor Bloomberg watched several people - including two staffers - slip and fall on rainy days.

"He walked in and said, 'What are we doing about this?'" said mayoral spokesman Jason Post. "Then he made a call."

Two months later the comptroller's office gave the Parks Department an emergency safety exemption to have a contractor do the work quickly.

However Mr. Vellonakis and former Parks Commissioner Henry Stern's mistake doesn't just end there. The city has installed unsightly metal riot barriers in the southern end of the park around the beautiful historic relief on the ground in order to protect the public from being injured further. They city can not file down the bluestone without destroying the relief which depicts the parks history. - Geoffrey Croft

City Hall Park. The city has installed unsightly metal riot barricades in the southern end of the park around the beautiful historic relief inlaid in the ground to protect the public from being injured on the slippery stone material.


The cracks at the seat of government are finally getting fixed.

Workers have begun replacing broken granite curbs and fence posts around City Hall and its four-acre park -- seven years after the city sued the contractors who installed them when the park was renovated by the Giuliani administration, according to the New York Post.

“The damage includes major cracking, chipping, spalling and water damage,” the city charged in a lawsuit filed in 2004 against Barney Skanska Construction Co. and its subcontractors.

“The damage will continue to undermine the security and integrity of the fence, causing a public safety hazard.”

Repair costs were estimated at $1.1 million.

It took a while, more than two-thirds of the Bloomberg administration’s occupancy, but a settlement was finally reached this year to replace the rotted posts at no cost to taxpayers, officials said.

Henry Stern, who served as former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Parks commissioner, said it shouldn’t come as a surprise that glitches developed in the $28.6 million City Hall Park project.

“If you do it nicely, there’s likely to be more problems than when you do a garden-variety job,” he said. “It’s more complicated.”

The redesigned park opened to rave reviews in October 1999. The iron fence was cast as an exact replica of an 1820s original, which was found surrounding a cemetery in upstate Bloomingburg.

Unfortunately, a decision was also made to replace the concrete sidewalk around the park with glossy stone slabs.

They became slick when rained or snowed upon.

After several people slipped and fell, the Parks Department allocated $1 million in 2008 to “thermally roughen” the sidewalk using heating devices. That pretty much ended the slips and falls.

Large bluestones intended to grace the entranceway to City Hall were clearly a huge mistake. They’ve become chipped and shattered and have absorbed oily spills from vehicles.

Stern said he was confident that all work on the separate, $119 million project to renovate the interior of City Hall would be completed well before Mayor Bloomberg leaves office.

“The greatest incentive to completion of a major construction project is the expiration of a mayoral term,” Stern observed.

Read More:

Repairs being completed at City Hall Park
New York Post - November 11, 2011 - By David Seifman

New York Daily News - April 14, 2008- By Adam Lisberg

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