Virus Rules Updates: Construction Halt Considered, Basketball Courts Closed, UWS Gets No Traffic-Less Streets

The city is tweaking its policy response to the coronavirus as residents remain in a near-lockdown to try to slow the spread.

The Upper West Side has mostly been quiet, but residential construction continues. Some residents have questioned whether such work is necessary, given the dangers to the workers — some of whom are  torn between showing up and protecting their health — and the larger public that is trying to slow the spread. It also can create quite a racket when entire families are squeezed together trying to do working-from-home and learning-from-home. Councilmember Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer called on Wednesday for construction on non-infrastructure projects to stop.

The mayor and governor appear open to the idea:

The city also plans to close certain streets to traffic to allow people more room to be outside while still following social distancing guidelines. But those streets don’t include any on the UWS.

One local wrote that West End Avenue might be a good candidate:

In addition, the city has also closed basketball courts, and even removed the hoops on some. We had heard yesterday that some people were still playing at the 76th Street courts in Riverside Park despite the police calling for them to stop. Playgrounds have “play at your own risk” signs on them — the city isn’t sterilizing them (so don’t go to them!). Thanks to Joy for the photos.

NEWS | 31 comments | permalink
    1. m.pipik says:

      If they haven’t stopped using the playgrounds and ball courts by now, they are not going to. What is the delay in closing them?

    2. Carlos says:

      I was at the 76th St. basketball court over the weekend. People were actually doing a good job of self-policing – most baskets had only one or two people on them (such as a father and daughter). Usually other people would mix in but generally people were staying away. The people who were actually using the courts could have been a bit more considerate about keeping it brief so that others could have a turn, but otherwise, it was great.

      I’m not sure why it is necessary to close these down. Kids who are largely locked in apartments all day need the exercise.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        let em walk or jog or toss a football back and forth. basketball is a team sport which is antithetical to social distancing.

        • Carlos says:

          Did you read what I wrote (and Priscilla below affirms what I said)? Basketball can be played with just one or two people per hoop. People have been doing a good job of self-policing this. I am 100% in favor of people staying home and social distancing. But for health reasons it is good to get outside at least a little bit and basketball is the chosen outlet for some people and it can be played in a way that maintains social distance.

          • UWSHebrew says:

            Many New Yorkers are ignoring social distancing, and young people are the most guilty of this. Ergo, removing basketball hoops are a good thing. I want all the hoops removed ASAP.

          • Charlie says:

            I saw exactly what Carlos noted; responsible individuals or small family groups playing or just shooting on the baskets. Healthy play for these times.

          • Marita says:

            I hear both of you but think that sooner or later open ball courts will attract larger crowds . Smart to be outside and exercise of course but bball isn’t the answer.

    3. Priscilla says:

      2 things: I walked by the BB court in Riverside Park & 76th St yesterday. Yeah people were playing but only 2 at each court and they were maintaining appropriate distance.

      Construction: the irony of calling for less density and social distance while they continue to build mega-tall condos is stunning. Close them down.

    4. Morningside Heights Resident says:

      Construction also continues at Columbia University in a building on 115th Street that was formerly a Korean Church. Can’t imagine how that construction is essential when then university is closed…

    5. C says:

      Constant construction noise is always extremely difficult for those of us who work from home. Cannot imagine trying to get through the day with all the kids at home as well. It should be stopped for the time being for mental health if not physical as well.

      • Kate says:

        As someone next to a construction site which will likely be $5M condos when done, while trying to work from home (and my husband is trying to work from home and my kids are trying to school from home) it is outrageous that this construction is considered “essential” It endangers our health and safety and should be shut down immediately.

        I read Gov. Cuomo said that the sites were required to have “Social Distancing”. I have sent multiple photos to the West Side Rag and Helen Rosenthal (thank you Ms. Rosenthal for your prompt response) at this travesty. (I copied WSR and they have my permission to post). There is no social distancing, no sanitation, and no way this is safe for anyone.

        • Mark Heskin says:

          The only clusters I saw today were cops.

          • Kl says:

            Construction workers don’t have the luxury option to work from home. So it’s okay for you to still work while at home but they are forced to sit home and not work? How is that fair. If it wasn’t for these workers NYC wouldn’t be a city at all and you wouldn’t have that home to work from to begin with.

            • Common Courtesy says:

              Construction workers are hardly the only ones who sacrifice during this time. Construction can resume when people are not cloistered indoors having to suffer the noise and toxic dust with nowhere else to go.

        • too loud says:

          Unsafe construction sites can be reported (anonymously) to 3-1-1, triggering a visit from DOB. Workers’ failure to maintain mandated 6′ distances from one another should constitutes unsafe construction practices, no?

        • Anya says:

          Kate is right. I have sent multiple examples of construction workers without masks to the New York Times and also called 311. I’ve gotten absolutely nowhere but I think enough of us contacting the NYT made them publish a piece yesterday morning About construction and that may have provoked Cuomo to comment on this problem. What distresses me is that if we were in some European country with great government and healthcare they would just ban such construction and give tickets and fines to the people that are breaking the law. We need to ramp up our game on at the state, city and federal level. Total abdication of responsibility in the White House.

      • Gee says:

        Agreed! Finally someone gets it! Thank you.

    6. Steve T. says:

      The developers all want construction to continue; they have pre-sold many of the units and may lose the sale if the building does not come in on time. The construction unions are on board with continuing to work as well. If those guys don’t work, they don’t get paid. You may say the same about waiters, bartenders and store clerks, but they don’t have deep pocket union representation in Albany. If you want non-essential construction to stop be prepared to make a sizable donation to the governor’s campaign fund.

    7. CM says:

      Construction noise is a part of nyc. That is a privilege if you can be safe at home with family. Others have to go to work every day on now more crowded trains due to reduced service (that prevents social distancing). If lack of social distancing is acceptable on trains (with lack of police presence and trains being filled with homeless people), then everything is fair game.

      To put in perspective how lucky people are if you are allowed to work from home. People are going to jobs that as long as you dont have a fever above 100, even if you test positive, you can still come to work. Think about that next time noise is an inconvenience.

    8. Leon says:

      I am sorry about the construction noise and there should be some compromise – perhaps limited hours or something like that.

      The flip side is that this is why due diligence is key in choosing an apartment. For every apartment I have ever lived in, I have done my best to make sure that the buildings outside my windows were not at risk of being torn down. There are no guarantees, but you can make a good guess. Obviously, who would have thought that you would be working from home due to a pandemic and thus it would become a much bigger problem for you.

    9. Via Ventana says:

      There has to be some enforcement of the restriction of the number of shoppers in West Side Market at 97th St. It’s packed + aisles are jammed, manager shrugs his shoulders and says, “There’s nothing I can do.” In the absence of common sense and responsibility, we need enforcement.

    10. Ladybug says:

      Why is construction of the Gilder Center @ AMNH ongoing, now even on weekends? How can this work be considered essential? Protecting the interests of the the deepest pockets as ever.

    11. RDThal says:

      I think the non-essential construction should be shut downhospidals keep building; monstrous condos…shut them down…but I know it is unbelievable chutzpah for the whole team to congregate on my corner…in a group…no social distance during their break…across the street from their monstrous project.

    12. Juan says:

      Seeking to stop all construction is not the way to go in my opinion. What is City trying to do put them out of work too? The noise that they make is a minor inconvenience, when people are willing to work under these conditions to provide for their families. Because you have to stay home from work and not get paid, don’t be jealous and vindictive to those whom are working through this Nightmare!

      • Kate says:

        If it were just me, I would have no issues, but there are two seperate issues here:

        1) my CHILDREN are trying to learn. They are in school remotely. There are rules about construction going on next to schools. They need to apply these to the city.

        2) Gov Cuomo has said the construction sites have to adhere to social distancing. At least the one next to me is not. We shut down the bars and restaurants because people were not following the rules and social distancing. If the construction sites can’t follow the same rules, they should be shut down as well.

        3) In fact, the whole point of social distancing is the fewer people you have bumping into other people, commuting, touching things, the slower the spread of the virus. To say everyone needs to shelter in place — of except for an industry with unsafe and unsanitary work conditions is nuts. And it makes us all less safe.

      • Nevets K says:

        Good points, Juan and Ki!
        People who complain about noise from construction sights – if that is their only gripe – are missing the larger point – which is not the noise.
        The point was exemplified by the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in Greenwich Vilkage in 1911. 146 dead.
        The workers, like our construction workers, needed to work to provide for themselves and their families.
        Working conditions were horrible.(Locked exit doors then, a virus that is everywhere now.) The bosses didn’t care – profit, greed, commercial pressures! – and they certainly weren’t going to pay if the workers didn’t show up. Like then, like now, ideal factors for death.

        Let’s not be reading about this in a few more weeks…

    13. ST says:

      Runners with their heavy breathing narcissistically passing a walker shoulder to shoulder. Outlaw running.

    14. UWSDrew says:

      Why single out UWS as not getting a street closer when no neighborhood in Manhattan is outside of that 6 blocks in Murray Hill / Midtown. I know this is a UWS news outlet but that sounds a but self-centered.

    15. Peter says: