2003-02-22 / Editorial/Opinion

Keep A Check on Construction

Take a ride anywhere on the peninsula and you will see new homes being constructed. The school board, worried about the new homes in relation to our already overcrowded schools, did a quick and unscientific survey and came up with 1,700 new homes, not including the massive Arverne By The Sea project, which will add 2,300 homes to that total. The lack of school seats is but one problem that Rockaway faces from the new construction. There are obviously problems of infrastructure, traffic and overcrowding, with more to come as the homes are built. There is another problem, however, that is just beginning to be elucidated. That problem is the viability and safety of the new homes themselves. The construction question was brought first by the trade unions, which want their piece of the construction pie. Union officials picketed the groundbreaking for the Arverne project, demanding that, for safety’s sake, that union labor be used to build the new homes. Now, the collapse of a home under construction in Edgemere has brought the question home. Granted, there was a heavy wind condition a week ago Wednesday, when the roof was blown off the house and the metal framework folded like a cheap suit, but construction experts that went to the scene said that the fault was not the wind, but poor workmanship and a faulty method of attaching the frame to the headers. Those same experts pointed out that the homes were not being built by union members, but by a random crew hired by the developer. We do not pretend to know what caused the house to collapse. Nor do we want to get into the argument over cost utilizing union or non-union labor. We do know, however, that officials in Rockaway have to keep a sharp eye on all of the new construction to make sure that those new homes are well-built and safe. Otherwise, they will deteriorate and become substandard housing. Rockaway already has enough of that to last us into the next century.


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