Those rallying outside a building on Jamaica Avenue in Woodhaven last Sunday issued a plea to the city: Please, let these signs we’re carrying not become candles at a vigil.
And they – the civic leaders, the residents, the business owners, the area elected officials – are right. It is lucky no one was hurt, or killed, when the building at 78-19 Jamaica Ave. partially collapsed almost a full year ago in April, sending a sea of bricks crashing onto the street and sidewalk during a busy weekday rush hour. A car was crushed, its front window annihilated, but, amazingly, no one was injured.
The city should not bank on that luck to strike twice: It’s time to tear down the building that is a not only a serious eyesore, its abandoned walls a magnet for graffiti, but a danger to the countless residents – including many children and senior citizens – who pass by it every day.
Let us, as those at Sunday’s rally said, not have to hold a memorial vigil for someone who was killed while going about their daily routine. Let’s not have to hold a rally for action after a death, after everyone can say: I knew this would happen.
The city Department of Buildings says the owner – who finally showed up in court last week after a warrant was issued for his arrest – is making attempts to resolve the issue.
Well, we call bullocks on that.
This owner may have paid some – very little – of his fines and shown up in court – but that’s because he was essentially forced to – or face jail. He apparently hasn’t done anything to address the issues in his building because he’s involved in legal action against his insurance company. Well, you know what? He’ll be involved in a lot more legal action than that if he doesn’t do something with his property and someone is seriously hurt or killed.
So, city DOB, you are legally permitted to tear down the building if it’s posing a direct danger to residents. Yes, it would be expensive. But let us all concede that there is no price one can put on avoiding one death – or more.
It’s time to finally – finally – do something proactive, dear Department of Buildings. And, Mayor de Blasio? Perhaps this is something you’d want to weigh in on – after all, this is a new administration and it seems as though the DOB is the same old unresponsive department as existed under Mayor Bloomberg.
So, who gets to win here? As of now, it’s certainly not the taxpaying residents of Woodhaven who just want a street they can walk down without worrying if a wall of bricks will crumble upon them.
Nor is it the senior center that had to relocate because it was located next to the partially collapsed building, or the ambulance corps, located in the same building as the senior center, that is struggling financially because it had relied on rent it received from the center.
Please, DOB, do not let the owner win. Do not let laziness or the apathy of city employees sitting in their Manhattan office win.
Let the people of Woodhaven win.
Tear down this building.