Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Park Employees Evacuated From Parade Grounds Building After Another Sewage Leak

"They're building a $ 70 million dollar ice rink in the park but they don't have the funds to make sure employees are safe? You see the priority."

Lunch Room Fecal Matter - The Smell Was Unbearable. Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) and NYPD officers have long complained about conditions in the Parks Department building located in the Parade Grounds across from Prospect Park. (Photos: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates)


Last evening city park workers were evacuated from a building after raw sewage overflowed into the work environment - again. The Parks Department building - located at 397 Coney Island Avenue across from the tennis courts in the Parade Grounds near Prospect Park - is also home to the NYPD's Brooklyn South Task Force.

Entrance to the PEP lunch room. Once again raw sewage has come up from the drain in multiple locations. Poor ventilation and broken windows in the building make matters worse.

The putrid smell stank up building offices, a lunchroom, a locker room and other areas that house the Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) Brooklyn command as well as on the police side.

The long time problem, according to city employees, is the aging and inaduquate infrastructure located in the basement including a pump and plumbing issues throughout the building which causes sewage to back up. Workers say the city refuses to properly fix the issues.

The pump has to be cleaned out once at least month and backs up more frequently after it rains.

"We don't know what we're being exposed to," said a disgusted Parks Enforcement officer. " We shouldn't have to work like this."

"We'd leave in a second," a NYPD Brooklyn South Task Force supervisor said yesterday.

NYPD officers described the putrid smell from earlier in the day from the backed-up sewage which had reached the building's second floor, which at times leaks from the ceiling.

Officers from both sides of the building also raised concerns about rodent issues.

"You can hear them in the walls," said a PEP officer.

Last year a hole in the wall and an uncovered radiator provided easy access for the rats.

"The city needs to invest the money and fix the problems," said another NYPD officer. "Its not a heathy working environment. If the public only knew the shit we have to put up with, literally."

Joe Puleo, vice president of Local 983 which represents parks workers including, PEP, said employees health and safety concerns in the building have not been addressed.

"I feel these employees that protect our parks, beaches and recreation centers from crime are treated as sub standard workers," Mr. Puleo said. "The parks department has been aware of these conditions for a long time and has done nothing. Only now with media attention are the employees being moved to a safe location."

"They (management) care more about the issue getting out (in the media) than the issue itself," said a PEP officer. "Its all about spin and PR."

The irony of the massive Lakeside Center ice skating project being built nearby in Prospect Park was not lost on employees charged with protecting Brooklyn parks.

"They're building a $ 70 million dollar ice rink in the park but they don't have the funds to make sure its employees are safe," said a Parks employee PEP officer who like everyone at the scene spoke on the condition that their name not be used.

"You see the priority." — Geoffrey Croft

The Parks Department building is located at 397 Coney Island Avenue across from the tennis courts in the Parade Grounds near Prospect Park and is home to the Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) Brooklyn command as well the NYPD's Brooklyn South Task Force. The building is closed until further notice.

A rickety, city-owned building that houses peace officers who patrol Brooklyn parks had to be evacuated today — after officers claimed they were being overrun by raw sewage and rats.

“It was unbearable — sewage started bubbling up through the holes in the floor,” one disgusted officer said, according to the New York Post.

A reporter also spotted urinals in the men’s room covered in sewage, while a cat was let loose throughout the puddled offices to ward off rats and mice.

City Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers told the Post that the office building off Coney Island Avenue in Prospect Park has been plagued with sewage and rat problems for at least three years — and that their various complaints to Parks Department officials have fallen on deaf ears.

Today, the stench became so putrid that they had to bail after sewage began backing up throughout the building, stinking up offices, a lunchroom and other areas.

“We keep on asking for repairs, but the Parks Department keeps saying there is no money in the budget,” the peace officer said.

The dozen PEP officers responsible for covering Brooklyn’s 3,000 acres of parks were subsequently relocated to temporary office space in Queens shortly after the Post called the Parks Department for comment. Plumbers were later sent to the building to deal with the sewage problem.

A Department spokesperson said exterminators regularly bait the site for mice and would look into the complaints about rats.

Many of the Brooklyn officers said they spend half their time on the city clock having to clean up or deal with the office problems rather than patrol parks. Some claim to suffer from bouts of nausea and sinus problems from regularly inhaling noxious odors.

“This is outrageous that the city isn’t protecting its workers,” said Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates.

The Parks Department offices at Prospect Park are adjacent to offices used by the NYPD. Some cops yesterday said their building space stunk of sewage, too.

Read/View More

New York Post - October 25, 2011 - By Rich Calder

Eyewitness News - October 25, 2011 - By Michelle Charlesworth

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