September 05 , 2008


Complaints arise from foam debris at housing tower


Bob Ellis/staff photographer     
Looking like a snow drift, Styrofoam shavings lay in the parking lot of the apartment building at 51 Port Watson St. Thursday afternoon. The building is undergoing a facelift using the foam which neighbors say is making a mess of the area.

By Elaine Hughes
Staff reporter

Neighbors have expressed concern about the littering of Styrofoam waste from construction on the Cortland Housing Authority apartment tower at 51 Port Watson St.
About three weeks ago, construction workers began cutting and sanding Styrofoam panels, which has caused small, white specks to sprinkle across nearby cars, trees and porches.
Alderman Tom Michales (R-8th Ward) said several people have complained about the Styrofoam, and his own porch gets covered with white specks on a regular basis.
The sanding ensures an exact fit of pieces of Styrofoam paneling that will protect the cement walls and steel reinforcement beams from moisture that causes deterioration. The project should be completed within a month, depending on the weather, said Glenn Goldwyn, executive director of the Cortland Housing Authority.
Contractors warned the Cortland Housing Authority about the dust before the project started, and workers only sand once a week, said project manager Mike Hudak, who works for Hudak Waterproofing based in Scranton, Pa.
The Styrofoam is similar to the material used for coffee cups and is not dangerous, Goldwyn said.
The contractors are laying the panels by individual floors, and with the work occurring multiple stories above the ground, the entire building cannot be encapsulated to prevent the falling waste.
After receiving complaints, Goldwyn negotiated with the contractors, and they agreed to purchase an industrial-sized vacuum to clean up the neighborhood debris.
The cost of the vacuum will be added to the contractor’s bill, and the Cortland Housing Authority will be responsible for cleaning the debris in the neighbors’ yards.
Goldwyn said he was not sure how soon the equipment would be purchased or when the materials would be cleaned up.
Hank Zajd of 28 Williams St. said he complained about the debris to several city officials and felt frustrated with the slow process.
“If it were students doing something, everyone would be up in arms,” Zajd said, adding that he was concerned about how the Styrofoam would be affected by rain this weekend.
Assistant City Fire Chief and city Director of Code Enforcement Chuck Glover said he felt confident that Goldwyn would do his best to make sure the debris was cleaned up.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has not received any complaints about the Styrofoam, said Diane Carlton, a regional spokesperson for the DEC.


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