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Back-to-Back Projects to Cause Sutton Place 'Nightmare,' Neighbors Say

 A three-year construciton project is slated to begin on East 58th Street in July.
East 58th Street Water Main Project
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SUTTON PLACE — A three-year project to install a water main along a series of residential blocks was blasted by neighbors and local community board members who said the area shouldn't be ripped up by even more construction after a similar project recently finished nearby.

Residents of East 58th Street said they are dreading the noise and dust that will come from the new water main project, slated to begin construction on three residential blocks between First and Third avenues this summer.

A representative from the Department of Design and Construction presented the three-year plan for the water main at a Community Board 6 meeting Monday night — the second such construction project to occur in the area over the past few years, residents said.

In January, the DDC completed a similar water main installation project on 59th Street between the same avenues that took about two years to complete, said Fred Acaro, chair of CB6’s transportation committee.

“Noise is the biggest problem,” said Leo Zimmer, 44-year-old resident of East 58th Street. “[During the last construction project,] my kids got Bs in school simply because they couldn’t sleep. It’s criminal what they’re doing.”

The new construction project will begin as soon as July, take about three years to complete and will cost the city $20 million, said Thomas Foley, DDC assistant commissioner of the DDC.

Installation of the 48-inch steel water main, which will be 50 to 60 feet long, will begin at Third Avenue and move eastward toward First Avenue over the next several years, Foley said.

In response to the news, residents said they’re dreading another three years of constant noise and dust outside of their homes, and said that the project should have been moved elsewhere.

“We just got done with the 59th Street [project], and we all suffered through that for years,” said Diane Johnson, a property owner and resident of 59th Street and Third Avenue. “We’re worried about construction going on in front of our building. It’s been a nightmare.”

Others also lamented the return of construction crews to the neighborhood.

"There will constantly be dust and dirt in the air," said another resident in attendance at the board meeting on Monday. "There should be something to address the air quality. I'll never be able to open my windows."

Other neighbors said that they are worried that vibrations from the work would impact the infrastructure of surrounding buildings on the mostly residential street, but Foley said the DDC would work to closely monitor any vibrations during construction.

Most of the work will take place during the day, beginning at 7 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m., he explained.

On occasion, work will be done during the night hours between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., he noted.

After each workday, any trenches will be covered with steel plates so that traffic can travel on the street. During work, pedestrian fences and crosswalk guards will be implemented, he said.

Also during the construction period, there may be days when water will have to be shut off, but residents will be given notice a month in advance, Foley added.

The Department of Transportation will be making traffic stipulations to accommodate the work, but Foley wasn’t able to provide specifics.

The first time the DDC presented the plan to the community board was in December of 2011, said Acaro. At that time, the agency had not decided whether to install the water main on 61st or 58th Street.

In Dec. 2011, the community board sent a 27-page analysis of the plan to the DDC commissioner, detailing why the project should be done on 61st Street, which they said is less residential than 58th Street and wouldn’t affect quality of life as much, Acaro noted

“They never responded, and I find that troubling,” said Acaro. “If they’re asking us to support something, they’re not going to get it from us. ...They’re not doing this right.”

The DDC and the DDC did not respond to requests for comment.