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This construction project really stinks (no, really)

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Great Recession really stinks — and for one Park Slope family, it’s literal.

Steve Shepard, who lives next to a troubled construction site on Fourth Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets, says that a fetid stench from gasoline and oil overwhelms his co-op apartment and can be smelled from as much as a block away.

“It smells like a refinery! It gives my wife headaches and a sore throat,” said Shepard.

The torrential downpours of last week only made matters worse. Shepard now worries that hot weather will create a Biblical plague of putrid odors.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental Conservation said that the odors were tied to “small amounts of petroleum floating in some standing water.”

The spokeswoman, Lori Severino, also noted that the site has been on the city’s radar since 1989 as being possibly contaminated. Clean-up proposals were first made by BP in 2007.

A year later, developer Isaac Katan proposed a 12-story, 107-unit building that would have remedied the contamination while building stylish structure next door to another luxurious condo building on Fourth Avenue, the Novo.

Some excavation took place, but the recession put the full plan on hold. But the smell continued.

To top it off, the company in charge of the project, Tona Development, took three feet of the Shepards’ porch to make room for “construction” on the former gas station.

And Shepard says that Tona hasn’t even paid him in a year for that three-by-10-foot space on his porch.

A secretary at Tona Development referred a Brooklyn Paper reporter to Vito Cardinale and Nick Ponzio, whom she said were the owners of the troubled site.

When reached by telephone, Cardinale said, “I don’t know why Tona referred you to me, I’m only an investor. You should talk to them.” Ponzio did not return several calls.

Unfortunately for Shepard, it doesn’t look the stinky situation will be remedied anytime soon.

“More permanent [odor] solutions will be discussed as part of the remedial action plan being developed now,” said Tom Mueller, a spokesman for BP, which remains on the hook for the clean-up. “[The plan will assume that] the construction project will not move forward.”

Messages left at Katan Developers were not returned.

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Reader Feedback

tom murphy from sunset park says:
The NYPL at 42nd & 5th Avenue has a wonderful map exhibit that concentrates on Manhattan but has a few good old maps of Brooklyn.
One that caught my interest was done some hundred years ago. It superimposed the contemporary street grid and the Gowanus Canal of Brooklyn on the original Brooklyn shoreline and the original course of the Gowanus Creek.
I was struck by the fact that many areas that have been 'developed' recently coincide with the site of salt marshes, the source of the Creek and land that has been filled in to accommodate industrial use,i.e., Red Hook, Dumbo, Gowanus, 4th Avenue, Greenpoint, etc.
My guess is that any problem emanating from a rising damp/ground water is not going away.
April 6, 2010, 10:36 am
previous tona tenant from park slope says:
Tona development is unprofessional and possibly the worst company to rent an apartment from. They aim to take as much money from you while providing as little as possible. In addition, the 24-hr emergency contact number is always busy or goes to voicemail. They do not take responsibility for problems with the apt, even if there is a major plumbing issue within the whole apt building. Bottom line: do not rent from them, you will only regret it.
Aug. 18, 2010, 11:07 am

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