The sounds of saws, drills and jackhammers are not an uncommon occurrence in Queens. New construction and repairs of existing infrastructure make the borough a constant work site.
But when it’s time for bed, those sounds are not what people want to hear, especially close to their homes.
A number of residents who live on 86th Avenue — a dead-end street in Woodhaven — are experiencing just that problem with construction work going on at PS 97. It’s not necessarily the noise from power tools that is causing the problem, it’s the cleanup.
PS 97 is undergoing a big renovation, including an overhaul of its external masonry. The entire school is surrounded by scaffolding and netting. The work is expected to be completed later this year.
According to city regulations, construction work on schools must wrap up by 10 p.m. in order to avoid disrupting residents with noise.
But Alan Castro, who lives next to the school on 86th Avenue, said the noise goes well beyond 10 p.m.
“It’s even more than a little noisy,” Castro said. “I think I can describe it as pretty loud.”
He registered his complaints with the School Construction Authority, which told him all work ends at 10 p.m. and anything done at the site after that is cleanup. But Castro said the cleanup is just as noisy as the construction — if not more so.
“It’s atrocious,” he said. “They would do drilling, sawing, yelling, screaming way past 10, as late as 11:30 or 11:45.”
Castro said there were no issues with noise until early March and that prompted him to reach out to the city Department of Education, the SCA and even Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
“I’ve called everybody; nobody cares,” he said.
One of Castro’s neighbors, who declined to be identified, said she doesn’t typically hear the noise with her windows closed, but she doesn’t want to keep them shut.
“This time of year you want to sleep with the window open, but you can’t,” she said. “I can’t wait for this to be done.”
The resident, who lives on the opposite side of the school on 85th Drive — a block from Castro — noted she and her neighbors not only deal with the construction at PS 97, but also the work going on at the Woodhaven Library at the other end of the block.
Eric Yun, a spokesman for Crowley, said he has personally been handling the issue and said the SCA has asked the contractor doing the work to take steps to reduce noise during daily cleanup. He added that he has been calling the SCA on the issue “weekly” since the complaint was brought to Crowley’s office.
One of the issues is the use of a chute where workers toss materials from higher floors to the ground. Yun said the contractor has been asked to install a mattress or an airbag at the bottom of the chute to reduce noise.
“[The contractors] are not moving fast enough,” Yun said. “Understandably, the residents are upset. We’re aware of it and we’re working on a fix.”