To the Editor,

Fellow Roosevelt Islanders, particularly those who face Manhattan, and are within ear-shot of the late-night construction work across the river, please read my correspondence below with Rockefeller University. Rockefeller University is in the middle of an $8 Million seawall and Esplanade upgrade between 63rd and 68th Streets, and the City requires them to do this late at night due to the traffic on the highway. Here is my e-mail to them and their reply:

Neal Weissman

Dear Sir,

A neighbor’s young son was playing with his toy truck the other day, and even though he could barely talk, he knew that when he backed the toy truck up, he should go “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP”. This is the sound we hear a lot of lately, and from what I ascertain from the poster across the river, this will be going on for several years, even if the Manhattan Rockefeller University Riverfront Project is completed on time.

It states, “Seawall repair begins Summer 2015, General Construction begins Fall 2015, Esplanade to begin summer 2017 – completion Spring 2018, and Building completion Spring 2019.” Of all the orchestrated noises coming from Manhattan these days, the one most penetrating sound that travels most aggressively across the river is the Back-up beeper.

The trucks typically produce a 1,000 Hz tone at 97-112 decibels, which is considerably higher than the long term hearing loss limit of 80 decibels. Trucks typically are set for the high end of the range since they never know what environment they will be in, so to avoid being sued, this is their safest approach; never taking into account that these trucks will be used late into the night from 11pm to 6am, when most people are sleeping. OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires the reverse signal alarm to be above surrounding noise level only when the vehicle has an obstructed view to their rear. Noise level is left to the employer.

The human brain is not adapted for dealing with this repetitive and persistent sound. The sound is perceived as irritating and painful, hampering concentration, and harmful to a quality night’s sleep. In some countries, such as the United Kingdom, backup warning systems have switched over to using blasts of white noise as a better alternative and are becoming more common. White noise does not need to be as loud, and people can tell which direction the noise is coming from. It is better for the work crew and it’s better for all the neighbors. If Rockefeller University wishes to be thought of as a good neighbor, and one who is on the cutting edge of technology, here is a perfect opportunity to take a first step.

Please let us know if you would consider addressing our concern and when you think we can seriously look forward to an improved night sleep.

Neal Weissman

Dear Mr. Weissman:

Thank you for reaching out to us regarding the Rockefeller University’s current building project. I run the Planning & Construction office at Rockefeller, which is responsible for overseeing the construction of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-David Rockefeller Campus, the improvements to the public esplanade adjacent to the campus, and the repairs to the seawall along the East River.

We very much regret the necessary disruption caused by the project, particularly in these early phases. While the schedule for the entire project does continue through Spring 2019, we anticipate that the portion of the work likely to have the most impact, which is the nighttime work being done on the FDR Drive, will taper down after this summer and be largely complete by mid-fall of 2016.

We do understand your concern and will endeavor to minimize disruption and maintain an efficient construction schedule. We have also requested that white noise alarms of the kind you described in your message be utilized on trucks coming to the site.

I believe you are aware that we host a website that provides regular updates on our construction progress at . In addition, please feel free to reach out to my project manager Max Kaufman, at , with any questions or concerns you may have going forward.

George Candler

Associate Vice President, ­Planning & Construction

The Rockefeller University

To the Editor,

I truly love living on Roosevelt Island. I feel lucky to live in a community with open space and a lot of diversity; we have sizable young, old, and disabled populations. I love the community feel, the open space, the amazing people and the community leaders that make this place great.

My family moved here in 1981. Although I grew up and moved off-Island, my stay away was brief. I quickly migrated back to start my own family in the place I have always considered home. How lucky I am to raise my child on this same wonderful Island where I was able to create unforgettable memories.

Yet I am writing a letter to highlight something in my cherished community that came as quite a surprise and disappointment. Within the past two weeks, signage has gone up on the lamp posts in Good Shepherd Plaza banning biking, skating, skateboarding, and scooting in the plaza.

I would like to know: What was the impetus for this decision?

What is going on in our community? Who is holding the reins here, the people or the bureaucracy? Or should I say, who is making these decisions for our community? Can we have some transparency when these decisions are made, and be cognizant of who they affect?

Good Shepherd plaza has always been a central meeting place on Roosevelt Island, attracting people of all ages to come together. Decades ago I learned how to ride my bike around that plaza. In the intervening years, I have seen endless other children do the same. It is a space to sit, to walk, to scoot, play football, skate-board, and bike-ride. These activities have all always taken place harmoniously and simultaneously. It has always been a space where younger and older people congregate together.

Are we going to start putting these signs up everywhere, limiting what and where people do things? Are we going to become isolated because some of us may want to scoot, or skate, or play with our kids, and some of us are on foot so have to go somewhere elsewhere? I think we are lucky to be on an island with one street and a limited amount of vehicles where we can walk, scoot, bike, or drive a wheelchair to public transportation that is accessible to all, or be together outside amongst one another. Is this not what FDR’s vision stood for?

I believe in rules and limits, and I know that they serve the community as a whole, but I am just wondering who this one benefits.

I want this to be reconsidered in light of its enormous negative community impact.

It doesn’t serve the community. At the least, I would like to know how and why this decision was made so I can come to some understanding of it.

Vanessa Morais

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