Eyes on the Street: What’s with all the white “snow” near the library?

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We often get photographs and tips from our Bungalower readers of things that are happening around town, so we have started featuring them on the site in a series called Eyes on the Street, in honor of our favorite urbanist Jane Jacobs.

“Polystyrene particles are falling from the sky and lining the cracks and gutters along my normal lunch routes. I’ve attached some photos along with a map with approximate locations the polystyrene has been found.”
– Bungalower Reader

Last week we were sent some photos of Polystyrene bits floating in the gutters along Rosalind and asked to look into where they were coming from. So we did.

Contrary to how it may appear, it is not snowing at the corner of Central and Rosalind in Downtown Orlando. The tiny white balls that have been raining from above for the past month are coming from the construction site at Modera Central, a new high rise being built across the street from the Downtown Public Library and kitty-corner from Lake Eola Park. Click HERE to learn more about Modera.

The tiny foam balls are created through a process called “rasping” where a surface layer of foam product is placed on top of a surface like concrete prior to being covered with a top layer of something, usually stucco. The sanding down of the foam insulation layer is what creates the airborne particulates that then fall to the ground as the surface is rasped to allow for greater hold when it’s primed and ultimately covered. Here’s a video explaining the process.

While the State of Florida has preempted cities from banning Polystyrene products within their limits, the City does have codes which protect against pollution from construction sites. We reached out to the City of Orlando concerning their rules and they informed us that the contractor had just been fined $1,000 and instituted a mandatory clean-up plan under the City’s Stormwater Utility Code, 31.19(1) or “Discharge of Polluting Matter in Natural Waters – Prohibited.”

The code states that it’s “… unlawful for any person to drain, deposit, place or otherwise discharge into any natural outlet or storm water system within the City, or to cause or permit to be drained, deposited, placed or otherwise discharged into such waters, any organic or inorganic matter which causes or tends to cause pollution.” This includes things like petroleum products, pet waste, and yes, construction materials.

According to the City’s Public Information Officer, the contractor has already agreed to implement a clean-up plan to remove all debris from City “streets and lakes” by the end of the week and will put in procedures to keep it from happening again in the future.

Just in time for spring.

The Modera development is located at 150 East Central Boulevard [GMap].

3 COMMENTS

  1. It’s all over the Library Garage and has been for months. It’s really bad. Next time I’ll remember to send pix to you.

  2. Those pics really don’t show how bad it was. Their remediation plan is a joke. Dilution is always the solution I suppose. I’m sure the swans have ingested a pound of it by now.

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