THE BLOG
07/10/2014 08:52 am ET | Updated Sep 09, 2014

City Project Almost Kills First Victim

A woman was exercising on a mat on the fourth floor of an athletic facility at 91st and York Avenue when a sharp-ended 10-pound steel chisel crashed through a plate glass window and landed three inches from her right side. Glass fell on her and cut her. She was taken to the hospital in shock. She is alive and relatively well. She was lucky.

The accident -- as you can see on this video -- starts on a narrow road between the gym and a playing field. A backhoe picks up a segment of metal pipe, but it's so heavy it tips the vehicle forward. The backhoe tries to yank the pipe back up again, and succeeds. But then something snaps and the thing falls. Hard.

Where the chisel was and how it got hurled four floors up into the air with such force that even though it only hit at a glancing angle it smashed through a thick plate glass window, is under investigation. Work at the site has stopped.

About three hundred children were attending summer camp on the playing field. The road on which the construction is taking place runs right alongside it, eleven feet away. Again it was only because of luck that the chisel was not shot into the children.

The road is an access road to an enormous Marine Transfer Station (garbage factory) currently in the early stages of construction. If it survives the scandals gathering around it -- and there are many -- it will loom over the playing field within literal throwing distance.

During the year, 34,000 city kids, most from public schools without other sport facilities, use this facility. Thousands of kids learn to swim in the pool in the adjacent building, the one that got chiseled.

To get to the athletic facility, the kids must walk across the entrance to the garbage site. To enter and exit the garbage site, 100 to 500 garbage trucks a day, six days a week, will have to drive over this same stretch of sidewalk. In other words, 200 to a 1000 times a day, garbage trucks will intersect with children on twenty square feet of concrete. In the last ten days alone, two New York City adults have been killed by garbage trucks.

To put these trucks among children is not Vision Zero, it's Zero Compassion.

That a child was not killed today was a matter of luck. When they start getting run down, bad luck will play no part. They will be dying because of human negligence, bitterness, stupidity, and most of all because of cynical political vote-getting strategies.

Everyone knows this garbage site can only be built here because of a technicality. It contravenes the spirit of every law the city ever made to protect the public's health and safety. And, of course, Mayor de Blasio knows this as well as anyone. He has been given a mountain of evidence, including this report.

In the end, he will have to bear responsibility. He could stop this. And by the way, this is not a local issue. Supposed to cost the city 43 million, it is now almost 200 million over budget. It is in the worst kind of flood zone. The pollution in this area is the worst in the city. And -- I can't say this too often -- children from every borough play here and will die because of this. This is a certainty.

And then, eventually, it will have to be pulled down -- at further cost of dollars and tears. Some things are intolerable; this is one of them. It is happening in slow motion, the accident, the death, the wrecking of careers, the shame.

I have written about this before when it was a Bloomberg project, and I will write about it again now that de Blasio has embraced it. But if you want to learn more about this scandal immediately, there's a public meeting this evening, July 10th, at Holy Trinity Church on 88th between 1st and 2nd Avenues. It's at 6.30.