NEW YORK – The Development, Design and Construction Committee of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce (HACC) offered its latest presentation on New York City’s vital construction and real estate industries on January 15.
Titled Ariadne’s Thread – A Chat with New Building Department Commissioner Rick D. Chandler and Deputy Commissioner Timothy Hogan: The New Building Department Regulatory Process Agenda, the presentation focused on newly passed building codes, the Mayor’s initiatives, including his aim to increase affordable housing, and other matters coming up in the Department of Buildings (DOB).
Lou Katsos, the committee’s chairman, was introduced by HACC director Tasso Pardalis, who also welcomed the guests that packed the special event space of the renowned Russian Tea Room. Katsos thanked the sponsors, including the venues owners, for making quality events available to the community at free admission.
The sponsors also make possible charitable donations by HACC. Katsos announced that $5000 was donated to the Jewish Museum of Greece. Solomon Asser, president of board the American Friends of the JMG and HACC director, was present to receive the gift.
Introducing the topic, and the title which he traditionally adorns with a mythological reference, he said industry officials seeking a thread like Ariadne’s to make their way through the labyrinthine bureaucratic process often turn to “expediters who end up picking our pockets,” so he hoped the event would prove enlightening.
Chandler responded by emphasizing the commitment he shares with Mayor Bill de Blasio to streamlining the Department’s processes and making it more effective for the good of citizens, owners and builders alike.
Het declared that their primary goal is to “advance safe development…that will keep citizens of New York safe for decades…in the homes, schools and office buildings that shape their lives.”
One portion was devoted to the increasing significance of energy reviews and enforcement.
With it role in issuing facilities permits, the DOB is also crucial to the Mayor’s universal Pre-K initiative. “The multi-agency team topped its goal of 50,000 children – there were 53,000 in 2014 and 20,000 more will be added to the program in 2015.”
Taking advantage of computer technology will make it possible to simplify and speed up processes that small business owners rely upon, Chandler said, bringing one-stop shopping close to reality.
During the Q&A period, Chandler listened attentively and when guests said that their experiences did not always correspond to what they heard, the Commissioner urged them to contact his office by telephone or email about those cases.
Katsos also introduced Hogan, whose PowerPoint presentation illustrated by photos of the often-terrifying conditions that its inspectors are called in to deal with, was intended to help guests understand the need for “those annoying knocks on your doors.”
Photos of blocked exits at nightclubs and bars, the aftermaths of explosions, and of unsafe construction sites, including collapsed cranes, were graphic proof that “you may be running the cleanest projects in the City, but your colleagues are not.”
Hogan got his point across, only to evoke complaints that the City does not have enough staffers for the processes to move forward at reasonable rates. “There are not enough site safety managers and that hurts everyone in this room,” one guest asserted.
Hogan said they are trying to streamline the recruitment and training process.
Katsos announced HACC’s upcoming events, including, the Cultural and Education Committee’s presentation of Peter C. Moskos, who will speak about the third edition of “The Greek Americans: Struggle and Success,” on January 22 in the Holy Trinity Cathedral Center.
On February 11 HACC and the Norwegian-American Chambers of Commerce will host their 21st Annual Joint Shipping Conference at The Waldorf-Astoria Starlight Roof, and the Education and Culture Committee, in association with HellenicGenealogyGeek.com, will present its First National Hellenic American Genealogy Conference on Saturday, April 25. Information is available at www.hellenicamerican.cc.