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UPDATE: The city takes it all back, says the contractor for Brooklyn’s soon-to-be-tallest building had a permit to take hydrant water all along • Brooklyn Paper

UPDATE: The city takes it all back, says the contractor for Brooklyn’s soon-to-be-tallest building had a permit to take hydrant water all along

Measures up: Avalon Willoughby West is supposed to look like this and rise to 596 feet, six feet taller than 388 Bridge Street a block away.
Edwards & Zuck

Update: The city now says that it unfairly maligned the developer of what is slated to be Brooklyn’s tallest building and that the builder had a permit for siphoning water from a fire hydrant all along. A spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection said his office could not find the paperwork at first because it is short-staffed for the holidays.

The construction crew for the Downtown tower Avalon Willoughby West, which is slated to become the borough’s tallest building in 2015, has been siphoning water from a fire hydrant since at least last week, with a permit, the city now says. The city sells $55 permits for builders to take hydrant water legally, but an official first told us developer Avalon Bay had no such pass, then later told us that the paperwork was on file.

“We do not have a record of a permit for using the fire hydrant at this location,” a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection originally said.

The site at Willoughby and Duffield streets is just a hole in the ground now, but a 57-story, 596-foot residential building is slated to rise there by 2015, beating out the nearby Brooklyner and also-under-construction neighbor 388 Bridge Street for the title of loftiest tower.

In addition to getting the environmental protection department’s slip, builders are required by the fire department to keep hydrants accessible during construction with a hand-operated shut-off valve and a secondary hose connection that firefighters can tap into in an emergency. The Avalon Willoughby West contractor set-up has the required nozzles, but on Monday, the hose was leaking a steady stream of water into the gutter, leaving the pedestrian path, a temporary sidewalk diversion for the construction, wet and muddy.

The city sent inspectors to the site on Monday afternoon, but by the time they arrived, work had ceased for the day and the contraption was gone.

The fine for failing to file for a hydrant permit starts at $750. The company did not immediately respond to requests for comment by phone and e-mail.

Other big companies have gotten hosed for taking city water.

Luna Park in Coney Island got into trouble in 2012 when this paper caught park workers on camera filling the log flume ride with a hydrant, sans permit. The city investigated the incident, and let the amusement park off with a warning. Luna Park officials later apologized and offered to pay for the pilfered liquid.

Mayor Bloomberg later commended reporter Will Bredderman for aggressively pursuing the truth on issues of vital importance to the good people of Brooklyn.

Fire power: This contraption meets fire department specs — and is totally legal, the city now says.
Photo by Matt Perlman

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