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Neighbors Fume Over Noise From Rheingold Construction's Idling Trucks

By Gwynne Hogan | January 19, 2016 10:24am
Trucks Rheingold
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Edwin Delgado

BUSHWICK — Dozens of dump trucks belch exhaust, honk and illegally idle their engines as they line up in the pre-dawn hours for the day's construction at the controversial Rheingold Brewery, infuriating neighbors.

On Monday morning, there were more than 30 idling dump trucks parked along Evergreen Avenue in the five residential blocks leading up to the construction site at 123 Melrose St., as well as along nearby George Street.

The trucks, most with New Jersey plates, queue up outside the site, vying to be first in line when the gates open at 7 a.m., a site manager said.

Residents say they've heard the truck noise start as early as 2 a.m. but often by 4 a.m., making deep sleep a distant dream for those nearby.

"I called in sick. I couldn't get no sleep at all," said Jose Guzman, 41, who lives on the block and builds airplane parts for a living. "It's too loud...that's noise pollution."

A resident who lives on the corner of Evergreen and Troutman said he'd been woken up about every other night for the past few weeks. 

"It sounds like there's a hurricane outside," said Dan Beatty, 26. "It's miserable. It's just so f***ing loud. I'm beat right now."

Most mornings trucks also block the entranceway to Edwin Delgado's business, a broad lot on the corner of Jefferson and Evergreen where his family's company makes kitchen exhaust systems. 

"They're just doing what they want," said Delgado, who grew up on the block. He finally brought his concerns up with the construction site manager last week, but a day later the trucks were still parking in front of his driveway.

"I had two arguments this morning alone with two different truckers," he said on Monday. "They moved, but after we cursed each other out."

Others say that the dozens of trucks snarl foot traffic during the morning rush when kids are walking to schools nearby.

"If I'm going to school...they always block [the street]," said Adrian Garcia, 18, at Williamsburg Charter High School, who said he's been late about five times since the construction started because of having to wait for the congested entrance to the site near George Street to clear before he could pass.

The site manager for Brooklyn GC LLC said there's not much he can do about noise complaints, though idling is against city laws.

"That's how it works in construction. Buildings have to be built," said Steve, who declined to give his last name. "They try to be first in line...if you come too late you might not get loaded."

Work at 123 Melrose started in mid-December, according to a Jonathan Greenspun, a spokesman for All Year Management, who warned community stakeholders the day the construction fence went up around the property. He also mentioned wanting to start a system for community complaints at the site.

The massive site of the former Rheingold Brewery was rezoned for residential development by the city in 2013 with the stipulation that the former owner of the site, Read Property Group, had to set aside 30 percent of the 977 units for affordable housing as well as contribute funds to local schools.

But after the rezoning, Read divided the lot and sold it off in two chunks. The agreement Read made with the city was non-binding, and thus the future of the massive site, and whether or not it will incorporate affordable housing, is up in the air.

All Year Management has told community advocates it would build 20 percent affordable housing, said Bruno Daniel, head of the Rheingold Construction Committee, a coalition of neighborhood groups that are advocating for the community.

But with the expiration of the 421-a tax break, which gives incentives to developers to build affordable housing, it's not clear whether those units will materialize.

While housing advocates are fighting to be part of the conversation about affordable housing at the site, the immediate neighbors just want their concerns heard about day-to-day issues that arise during construction.

"This is at least a three-year project, it's going to be like this for a while ... It's gonna change the whole neighborhood," said Delgado. "It would be nice if the new owners would reach out ...[and] show a little bit more will to be part of the community.

"It would mean a lot."

All Year Management didn't immediately return a request comment. Police said they were looking into the concerns about idling near Rheingold.