Smelly Puddle Stinking Up West 33rd Street

By DNAinfo Staff on July 1, 2011 6:42am  | Updated on July 2, 2011 3:06pm

By Jill Colvin

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN — A giant smelly puddle that just won't dry up is stinking up Midtown.

Locals say the puddle first appeared on the south side of West 33rd street between Fifth and Sixth avenues several years ago, but began to swell to its pond-sized current state when the street was re-paved this spring.

The oily green-tinged water stretches at least thirty feet long and is several inches deep, overflowing onto the sidewalk where it mixes with garbage and cigarette butts and accosts locals with its putrid smell.

"It's disgusting. It's vile," said Sinead Noone, 21, a hostess at Jack Demsey's restaurant, who described the smell that emanates from the puddle as a cross between garbage and rotting animal carcasses.

She said she frequently watches people cover their mouths and hold their noses as they walk by, disgusted by the smell, and said she fears it's driving away business.

"People can't look at the menu" she said. "They don't want to spend time somewhere it smells like death."

Paul Lee, 60, who runs Rae's Deli on the block, said he's called 311 twice to complain about the puddle to no avail, and said in addition to smelling, the standing water attracts mosquitoes.

"It's too much," he said, adding that the the smell has gotten worse as the temperature has warmed up.

The puddle is also a pain for the truck drivers making deliveries on the block, who are forced to move back and forth and readjust so they don't end up unloading in the puddle, locals said.

The origins of the puddle remain a mystery.

John Clancy, the owner of Foley's NY Irish bar up the street, blames the mess on sidewalk repairs completed several years ago. He said that after the concrete was first poured, it was deemed too high, so workers came to shave it down.

But ever since the road was resurfaced in early May, he said the situation is "worse than ever."

"The smell is unbearable. At night it's just unbearable. It's an awful mess," Clancy said.

John Bajada, 52, the superintendent of 20 W. 33rd Street, directly behind the puddle, said he remembers there being a storm drain on the street in front of Jack Demsey's and thinks that pavers may have accidentally covered it up this spring.

He said he's received complaints from his tenants and complained to 311, too.

A Department of Transportation spokeswoman said the agency is currently evaluating how the resurfacing may have impacted the drainage, and will then determine what actions to take.

 Business owners said they hope the city finds an answer soon.

"It just keeps getting worse and worse," said John's son, Frank Bajada, 26, a porter at 20 W. 33rd. "It's like a disaster over there. It stinks."

He said the spot's tourist-friendly location in the shadow of the iconic Empire State Building makes the situation worse.

"It's an embarrassment to the city," he said.

But in the meantime, Clancy, of Foley's, had one creative fix to make the puddle less of a pain.

"I want to put floating ducks in it," he joked.

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