By Rich Pollack
Concerns from residents of a Highland Beach neighborhood about debris in roadways surrounding construction sites has led town officials to take a new approach to reminding workers of the requirements for site housekeeping and parking.
Within the next few weeks, town building and code enforcement representatives will begin handing out informational placards to general contractors, asking that the cards be distributed to all subcontractors on a job site.
The placards, which will have specific requirements spelled out in both Spanish and English, can then be displayed by workers on the dashboards of their vehicles.
“We don’t have a lot of issues with construction debris, but this is one more step that will help us ensure that everyone is informed and in compliance,” said Highland Beach Police Chief Craig Hartmann, whose officers assist with code enforcement after regular business hours.
The idea for the dashboard cards surfaced during a meeting last month in which town representatives met with a handful of residents from the Bel Lido Isles neighborhood, who have been complaining about workers in the area not properly cleaning up construction sites and not following parking rules.
Earlier in the month, Bel Lido Isles resident Peggy Gossett-Seidman went before the town commission to voice concerns about ongoing problems with construction sites in the neighborhood.
She said one of the major worries for neighbors centers on nails, including roofing nails, left in the roadway that have been blamed for several flat tires.
It was Gossett-Seidman who came up with the idea for the placards.
“I definitely think this will help,” she said. “If contractors and subcontractors have the signs in their windshield then they can’t say they don’t know the rules.”
Proposed requirements for the placards are:
• Sweep and clean streets twice each day.
• Sweep and clean the roadway after each dumpster change.
• Put garbage and foodstuffs in a container separate from construction debris.
• Park on one side of the street; do not block driveways or side streets.
• Do not park within 30 feet of a stop sign.
• Do not park on grass.
• Provide a flagman when loading or unloading large vehicles.
The placards, according to Mike Desourcy, the town’s building official, will be distributed to contractors doing major construction or exterior work such as roofing or driveway renovations.
Desourcy believes that one factor leading to occasional housekeeping complaints from residents living near construction sites may be the economy.
Not too long ago, he said, contractors could cost-effectively hire someone to ensure that job sites were left clean at the end of the day. But with the most recent economic slowdown and the increased competition for a reduced number of projects during that time, general contractors left the responsibility for housekeeping up to the subcontractors on site.
Gossett-Seidman said that since her appearance before the town commission and the follow-up meeting with town officials, neighbors have seen housekeeping improvements at nearby construction sites.
“Having the meeting was a great step forward toward keeping our neighborhood clean and safe,” Gossett-Seidman said. “Everyone came together to come up with solutions.”
By Rich Pollack