Friday, January 30, 2015

Trust, but verify: construction contractors might abide by rules agreed upon with neighborhoods

Since the dust-up between neighborhoods, existing businesses and construction companies in downtown and Midtown over noise that continued unabated into the night, a mutual (and tenuous?) understanding seems to have been reached:

... the working group of residents and contractors ... got together and talked through the problems. They landed on a compromise that won’t need a change in law ....

The final draft is still being drawn up. But broadly, the rules require contractors to get special permission to blast between the hours of 9 pm and 7 am. And for other noisy activity – like pouring concrete – the builders have to submit a plan regarding their efforts to minimize the disturbance and notify the neighbors.

“We’re hoping that it works," [Erica] Gilmore says. "But if we hear complaints, we will revisit it.”

Recall that existing hotels are losing money because they are having to comp tourists and visitors who are unhappy with the night ruckus nearby. It seems that existing hotel companies are getting a dose of their own medicine, given that their construction projects were likewise hyper-local nuisances. But let's put aside for now the question of whether this deal would have been struck had the tourism industry not been pitted against itself.

I want to focus on the contractors and developers.

This week a manager from one of the huge Midtown projects told me that his company was going to continue 6:00 a.m. dynamite blasting for important utility lines, but that he did not have a firm schedule yet because the construction contractor brought in a bunch of heavy equipment and blocked some blasting areas. Reportedly, the blasting contractor could not convince the construction contractor either to move the equipment or to give him a schedule that he could set for blasting.

So, there is no firm blasting schedule. Area residents have just have to be prepared every morning "at sunrise" for the next few days for blasts that may or may not occur because some contractor cannot move his equipment or give other companies a firm idea when it would be moved.

If the bosses on these Midtown construction sites cannot even bother to work with one another to coordinate action in order to complete necessary tasks, why should we have faith that they are going to live by rules that prevent the erosion of the quality of life outside of their moneymakers? They seem to be too busy internally patrolling their own turfs to give a crap about the welfare of the surrounding community.

UPDATE:  A Midtown resident tells me that there was another sunrise dynamite blast today (01/30/15 -- 6:05 a.m) at a nearby construction site. Does the new curfew apply to Midtown or not?

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