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Rebuilding relationships: Build It Back contractors back down after complaints

Unblocked: Dawn Santiago holds up the story that got the attention of local politicians to address the problems related to recovery work in Gerritsen Beach.
Brooklyn Daily
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It’s a community win!

The city quickly responded to a Gerritsen Beacher’s cries for help after this paper highlighted her problems with the Build It Back disaster-recovery program. Kay Court mom Dawn Santiago told this paper that careless contractors were blocking the peninsula’s famously narrow streets with cars and dumpsters, preventing a school bus from taking her autistic son to school. But after the story ran, a local pol moved the dumpster and workers are rebuilding their relationships with locals, she said.

“Since that article — I work up at the corner store — a lot of the construction workers who come in, they said, ‘Look, we are sorry, we will do what we can to improve it,’ ” Santiago said. “They all understood.”

A few even handed Santiago their personal business cards so she could get in touch if she and her 3-year-old son Logan run into problems down the road, she said.

And Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island) — a retired public school teacher and chairman of Council’s Committee on Recovery and Resiliency — got Build It Back to move the dumpster blocking Logan’s bus. The legislator does not represent Gerritsen Beach, but said a disrupted routine can severely impact an autistic person and the problem was too close to his heart to ignore.

“As a former public school teacher and as someone whose dad is a retired special-education teacher, I know how critical it is to be consistent with certain routines with children with autism, and I took a very personal interest in this story making sure — as homes start to see the recovery work happen — that we don’t disrupt the quality of life of residents,” said Treyger, who has been working with local Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Gerritsen Beach) to address Build It Back-related quality-of-life issues in Southern Brooklyn.

Commentators on social media suggested Santiago just walk her kid past the dumpster to the bus, but the fix makes the neighborhood safer for everyone, she said.

“If someone was to have a heart attack, would you say, ‘Oh just walk down the block,’ ” she said. “It’s not about me walking my son — it’s about safety.”

Residents with problems can call the program’s customer service line at (212) 615–8329.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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