The Real Deal New York

Residents brace for 2nd Avenue Subway work

By C. J. Hughes | April 13, 2010 02:01PM

Resident of 1873 Second Avenue (left) and others attended a meeting with MTA officials last night

For years, they’ve lived in a clattering construction zone.

Starting today, however, some residents along Second Avenue on the Upper East Side, where the Second Avenue subway line is being dug, are getting even more up close and personal with the project.

Repairs are beginning on some aging brick tenements that are thought to be too weak to withstand the building of a new tunnel, plus a new East 96th Street station along Second Avenue, according to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, whose representatives met with residents of those buildings last night.

In addition, possibly as soon as June, some residents of those rentals will need to pack their bags and relocate while workers fortify their walls, according to MTA officials.

In the meantime, the ongoing work poses no threat to the residents of those buildings who do not have to move, they added.

“Nothing we discuss here should give any of you concern about your continued safety,” said Bill Goodrich, who oversees the project for the MTA, before 85 people at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center last night. These buildings are “structurally stable and safe for occupancy.”

But not everybody who attended the meeting was convinced, particularly the residents of 1873 Second Avenue, at 97th Street, who complained that even on days when there is no blasting, their tenement noticeably sways because of the altered landscape around it.

“I watch water in a cup dance on a daily basis,” said Bonnie Boyuk, who’s lived in a studio in the building for a decade, during a spirited question-and-answer session that lasted more than an hour.

Comparing her building to Edgar Allan Poe’s House of Usher, which ultimately implodes, Boyuk said the rattling “is like an all-day earthquake.” In response, MTA officials promised to send an engineer to the site to evaluate it again.

According to the plan unveiled last night, starting today, brick will be repointed and basements shored up at 1821 and 1823 Second Avenue, which are five-story red-brick tenements, to be followed by similar work in coming weeks at numbers 1825, 1827 and 1829 Second Avenue, which round out the block between 94th and 95th streets.

Also, likely by June, officials said, 16 apartments out of 48 in those five buildings, all of which are on the Second Avenue side, will have to be vacated, including furniture, so workers can go in, take down the ceilings and buttress the underlying structures.

The MTA will pay for residents to move their furniture in and out, and for them to stay at hotels in the area, they said.

But at 1873 Second Avenue, the entire building, or 12 apartments, will have to be cleared, as the building is weaker and needs more work, officials said. The 96th Street station is expected to be completed by 2014.

“We understand it won’t be easy for you,” said Helene Cinque, who works in the MTA’s real estate division. “We’ll do the best we can to make it work for you.”

No matter what the level of disruption, some are questioning the point of the project, like Ronald Major, 29, who grew up in a two-bedroom unit at 1821 Second Avenue.

“It doesn’t make any sense, when you can just walk to Lexington Avenue,” where the 4, 5 and 6 trains run, he said.

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