My final three weeks interning for the Department of Parks and Recreation were full of many different experiences. During the second to last week, granite installation finally began behind Borough Hall. The granite installation was a landmark process on the project to reconstruct the pavements at Cadman Plaza. The old bluestone concrete that used to decorate Cadman Plaza had a historical appeal to this particular downtown Brooklyn area, however, now the granite would put on a different feel to this historical site. The granite placement process was long and arduous and the pattern in which the granite pieces would be placed required constant supervision on behalf of the resident engineers. In fact, the resident engineers needed to control the entire granite pavers to see if the colors were in sync with each other.
In addition to granite installation, I had the opportunity to be a part of processing the first payment of this $8.5 million project. Mark, my supervisor, led me through the whole process that needs to be completed for the contractor to get his first payment. In order for the payment to go through, it has to go through departments such as the resident engineer, deputy engineer, Engineering Audit Office, Financial Services Office, and Comptroller’s Office. However, before the payment request is completed by the contractor, the resident engineer and contractor superintendent must make a “pencil copy.” The “pencil copy” is a rough list and estimate of the contract items and completed work that the contractor wants to get paid for. After completing the “pencil copy,” the contractor could then submit his first payment request. The first person a payment must be cleared with is the resident engineer, who checks to see if the payment request agrees with the “pencil copy” sum that the contractor and resident engineer agreed on. The payment request is also composed of forms such as bid prices and quantities, contractor and subcontractor’s payroll reports, and certificates of insurance. All of these documents must be reviewed before the payment request passes onto the borough director. These documents must be checked and passed onto the borough director in 3 days. I assisted Mark in checking certificates of insurance and payroll reports, in which the resident engineer must check to see if each laborer is getting paid at or above the prevailing wage for the work that they have done that day. This process is very laborious because the type of work completed each day for each laborer must be checked. As the project began in May and the first payment was in August, this meant that 60 days of work needed to be checked for each worker. In addition, the laborer’s hours of work and type of work for each day had to be double checked with the daily reports so as to make sure no extra workers were getting paid. If there were errors in the payment request because more workers were documented as working than actually were or a laborer was getting paid below the prevailing wage, the payment could not be processed. The payment would be sent back to the contractor to be fixed and then the contractor would have to submit a new payment request. Once the payment passes through however, the contractor is guaranteed payment within 6 weeks.
I also had the pleasure to attend resident engineer meetings and visit other resident engineer’s project sites during my final weeks at my internship. At the resident engineer meetings, all resident engineers in Brooklyn gathered to have a lunch hosted by the team project leader, David Martin. David Martin is the manager for all Brooklyn resident engineers, which makes 55 resident engineers in total. At the meeting, David discussed the goals that he has for the Brooklyn resident engineers, such as expanding their work force. He also shared information about the increase in budget that Brooklyn parks projects received and asked for any resident engineers to share their grievances. David also thoroughly expressed his appreciation for the work that the resident engineers were completing and gave them advice and encouragement to continue working through the complex project that they were being given.
On my last day, I visited the Parks project to reconstruct the boardwalk at Coney Island. The reconstruction of the boardwalk at Coney Island was necessary as a result of Hurricane Sandy, however, the project was impeded by the public because the reconstruction of the boardwalk would mean the removal of the historical timber wood boardwalk that Coney Island was known for. Although the project still went through, only a portion of the boardwalk would be reconstructed into concrete boardwalk. When I visited the project, there were cranes on site used to place the concrete panels of the new boardwalk. Because the concrete panels are extremely heavy and much attention and care is needed to place them, only 6-8 panels could be placed each day. Visiting this project was very exciting for me, as I had the experience of seeing another project that involved a lot of political and public attention.
My internship with the Brooklyn Construction team in Capital Projects was an invaluable experience and all of my expectations in learning more about city projects and the work that is put into it (on a micro and macro scale) was fully met. I learned, understood, and connected with many Parks employees that have gifted me with knowledge, support, and compassion. Not only did I network and learn about construction work but I also was immersed in a political setting. This was a wonderful opportunity because I was able to gain outside experience dealing with my two majors: civil engineering and urban studies. My perceptions about the Agency so far is that it is a very welcoming, friendly environment to work in and to be a part of their team would be an honor.