Residents rage against the latrines

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That’s no ordinary bathroom — that bathroom’s a killer.

Residents of the Oceana Condominiums say they’ve found new ammunition in their battle against a high-rise latrine currently being built by the city between their expensive seaside abodes and their view of the Atlantic Ocean. The residents allege that new changes to the two comfort stations will create a hazard to people living at the nearby condos. The city, in response, says the condo residents are full of it.

“It’s not designed properly,” said Condo owner Boris Natkovich. “God forbid we have another hurricane, because this will become a potentially floating torpedo.”

Oceana residents now accuse the city of improperly classifying the bathrooms as a Class 2 building project, which designates the site as a remodeling job, instead of a construction job. More importantly, this classification doesn’t require any geological surveys or studies, said Dimitry Geyber, treasurer of Condo Building 2 at Oceana.

“What the criminals at the city do is this, they designate the project Class 2, because it’s fast, and you do not have to do studies,” said Geyber. “They said, ‘screw them, no studies,’ and as a result they thought they fooled everybody, but they actually fooled themselves.”

However, according to a spokeswoman for the Law Department, the building is actually classified as an I-C Non-Combustible Construction, which means — you guessed it — the bathrooms aren’t expected to hold anything that can explode, except maybe some bowels.

Furthermore, the city says that designation doesn’t pertain to anything geological.

“There is no such designation as ‘Class 2’ building nomenclature used by the Department of Buildings,” said the Law Department spokeswoman. “This designation doesn’t pertain to anything geological.”

Condo 2’s treasurer continued his allegations against the city, saying that recent delays in driving down the pilings that will support the bathrooms were caused when contractors unexpectedly hit bedrock. He says this would have been detected if they’d performed adequate studies.

Unperturbed, the city workers decided to drill right through the bedrock and, as a result, tapped into an underground well that began spitting out subterranean water, according to Geyber

“They destroyed it. And when they did, the underground water started shooting out,” said Geyber. “So, they pumped it, which you shouldn’t do, because you need special permits.”

Again, the city refuted Geyber’s account, saying its workers never broke through the granite bedrock. The Law Department’s spokeswoman admitted there was an underground water deposit — calling it, simply, the Atlantic Ocean — but she never mentioned any pumping, illicit or otherwise.

She did, however, say that geotechnical surveys were performed in February, and that the work site has been staffed by “external engineering profession­als” overseeing the work.

One thing the parties do agree on is that changes were made to the building’s foundations, which will now be laid in concrete. Although their opinions differ regarding the safety of this new development.

On behalf of Oceana, Geyber agrees with Natkovich that the concrete foundations are unsafe and will turn the comfort stations into floating torpedoes in case of another hurricane.

“As our attorney is telling us, these structures are now a projectile weapon,” he said. “During the super storm, the devastation was huge, but what if there is another hurricane, these two bathrooms are going to be in my bedroom.”

The city says that’s nonsense. Like all the other features of the building, including its controversial three-story height, the city said the concrete foundation is designed to meet or exceed guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency regarding storm resistance.

“The foundation concrete pad design is not unlike the concrete pad that sits below the Chrysler Building, as well as numerous buildings throughout the world. It is a common foundation design to spread a building load,” said the city spokeswoman. “Department of Design and Construction engineers designed the new foundation and it conforms with all Department of Building codes and regulations. At about 120,000 pounds, it is also designed to resist any future wave action the buildings may encounter in the foreseeable future.”

Based on these new accusations, Oceana residents staged yet another protest on the Boardwalk near the city’s construction site. They were joined by former state Sen. David Storobin and Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Brighton Beach). Both support the condo owners’ demands that the bathrooms be moved further west, towards Coney Island Avenue.

“The city is saying that FEMA told them that, in order for them to be reimbursed, they have to put the bathroom in the exact same location where the previous bathroom was. But from what I’m hearing out of [Sen. Chuck] Schumer’s (D–Park Slope) office, that’s not the case,” said Cymbrowitz.

Whatever the case, one thing is certain, neither the city, nor the residents, will refrain from exploiting any loophole or oversight in order to influence where beach goers will be relieving themselves this summer.

“I worked 26 years and put all my money into this condo,” said Geyber. “Isn’t it my right to pursue my happiness?”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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