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City Ignoring Calls to Keep Oversight of Downtown Construction: Officials

 Elected officials gathered outside of City Hall Wednesday to call on the city for increased construction oversight Downtown.
Elected officials gathered outside of City Hall Wednesday to call on the city for increased construction oversight Downtown.
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DNAinfo/Irene Plagianos

LOWER MANHATTAN — As an agency tasked with coordinating Lower Manhattan's more than 90 active construction projects is slated to shut down at the end of the month, local elected officials are continuing to push the city to keep what they say is necessary Downtown construction oversight — a call they say has so far been ignored.

The push from officials including State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Borough President Gale Brewer and State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, comes as the Department of Transportation is phasing out its Lower Manhattan Commissioner's office this month— which worked to oversee the dense amount of construction work — because of budgetary constraints.

Elected officials and local leaders have been pressing the mayor's office to keep or create another agency solely focused on the widespread construction in just a 1.5-mile radius, but they say they have received no response at all.

On Wednesday the officials gathered on the steps of City Hall to decry the mayor's office's silence on an issue they say is crucial to the safety of those who live, work and visit Lower Manhattan, especially in the wake of a deadly crane collapse in TriBeCa in February.

City Councilwoman Margaret Chin called the city's inaction "perplexing" Wednesday, saying that as buildings continue to rise, and in the aftermath of the crane collapse, there "should be more oversight...more communication, not less."

"We're pleading for your help," she said, calling on the city. "Because the building boom has not ended."

Downtown has had a special construction coordination agency focused solely on Lower Manhattan since the months after 9/11, when much reconstruction was needed.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center was created to coordinate with various city agencies. It also served as a central place for Downtown residents to lodge complaints or get information about work being done in their neighborhood.

When the LMCCC was disbanded in 2013, the DOT's Lower Manhattan Commissioner's office filled what residents and elected officials say is a continued need for coordination of construction Downtown.

Lower Manhattan is still rife with construction, Chin said. Entire blocks are covered with scaffolding, work at the World Trade Center is not complete, and daily concerns from residents about noise, late night work and falling debris are ongoing.

"We're here to ask our city to step up," she said. "Construction coordination is not a luxury, it's a necessity."

State Senator Daniel Squadron said that they will continue to call the mayor's office "every couple days" and urged residents to call and email the mayor's office as well to push for Lower Manhattan construction oversight.

The mayor's office did not immediately return request for comment.