City Hall Is Falling Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A metaphor for the state of affairs in local politics? City Hall is crumbling -- literally. Now, council members are getting the boot. Ida Siegal reports. (Published Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010)

    The sky may be falling at City Hall with more bad budget news today, but the City Hall roof is also at risk of caving in. Literally.

    The problem is so serious that the City Council and its staff will be vacating the building in July, for up to a year, according to sources.

    Last fall, City workers discovered the ceiling tresses were badly rotted above the Mayors' bullpen and the room where he holds his morning staff meetings, nicknamed "The Cow"  (short for Committee of the Whole room).

    "The air conditioning system could easily have ended up on the Mayor's desk," said one City official familiar with the situation.

    With the help of scaffolding to support the ceilings, renovations were completed last October, while Mayor Bloomberg and his staff remained in the space.

    Similar scaffolding has been erected on the Council side of the building in the Council committee room, which is now closed to the public.

    But sources say the main Council Chamber is too big to support with scaffolding during renovation and must be vacated.

    Councilmembers will hold public hearings at either 250 Broadway or 52 Chambers Street. Both are nearby.

    The renovations are expected to cost $106 million. But that will include bringing the rest of the two-century old building into compliance with NYC building, electric and fire codes.

    Other hazards exist, including the fact that the electrical power system is located at one of the major points of egress.

    City officials say the historic building has never had an independent budget for maintenance and its structural upkeep has fallen to the back burner time and again.

    The last time it was renovated was in the late 1950's.