Tag Archives: DEC

Assemblywoman supports Ridgewood Reservoir wetland push


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan is leading the way in the fight for the Ridgewood Reservoir to receive wetland status.

As reported previously, Community Board 5 learned that Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials were questioning whether much of the 55-acre reservoir on the Brooklyn/Queens border met the requirements for wetland status.

The DEC claimed that Basin 3 of the reservoir did not meet wetland status criteria and that Basin 2 did not meet the acreage requirements. The agency could not check Basin 1 due to heavy vegetation surrounding the basin walls.

In an April 17 letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the DEC, Nolan expressed her concern over the fact that the Ridgewood Reservoir has yet to be fully inspected, and its future if it is not granted wetland status.

“I am very concerned that if the reservoir is not designated for wetland status then the space could be opened to development. The Ridgewood Reservoir is truly a unique site which consists of natural and largely undisturbed habitats for many species of animals,” she wrote. “I am against any development on this site and believe that it should be designated as a wetland. Both the state and city should have a strong interest in preserving this site for future generations.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Is state balking at Ridgewood Reservoir wetland declaration?


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) appears to be moving away from possible wetland status for the Ridgewood Reservoir, according to the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Parks Committee.

For nearly five years, the board and environmentalists have pressed the DEC to declare the 55-acre site on the Brooklyn/Queens border in Glendale as a wetland. The declaration would recognize the sensitive ecology that formed in the reservoir since it was taken out of the city’s water system decades ago and grant the state authority to regulate its future use.

But CB 5 recently learned that DEC officials weren’t so sure that much of the Ridgewood Reservoir meets the criteria for wetland status.

According to Steve Fiedler, CB 5 Parks Committee chair, the DEC indicated that Basin 3, the westernmost and largest of the three reservoir chambers, did not meet the minimum qualifications for a wetland. In past years, the city planned to clear this basin and transform it into athletic fields and other active park space, but those plans were scrapped due to community opposition and financial constraints.

Basin 2, the center chamber which includes a large natural lake, did not meet acreage requirements under DEC wetland criteria, but Fielder said the agency would likely declare it a wetland due to “extraordinary community concern.”

Fielder added that DEC officials indicated they did not evaluate Basin 1, the smallest and easternmost chamber, because inspectors were unable to enter due to heavy vegetation along the basin walls.

The committee co-chair charged in a phone interview that the DEC failed to properly evaluate the reservoir as a wetland, echoing sentiments in a resolution Board 5 adopted at its April 8 meeting in Middle Village.

“They did no plant evaluation, they did no soil evaluation and they did no testing,” Fiedler said. “They just went in and looked around and found it very dry after a rainstorm. They also went in during the winter when [they] shouldn’t be looking for wetland environments.”

In a letter to DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano wrote that a preliminary assessment prepared by Round Mountain LLC for the city Parks Department “identifies an important wetland in the south end of the west basin.” Giordano noted that such characteristics were confirmed in a site visit by Round Mountain officials last May.

“It is very important that NYS DEC engage in an in-depth study of plant life at the Ridgewood Reservoir, and that in-depth soil samples be taken, and not limited to the dry season,” Giordano wrote to Martens. “If it is not feasible for NYS DEC to conduct the necessary plant life studies required for wetland determination in the spring and summer, DEC should be able to rely on expert studies that have been performed during the past 15 years related to the Ridgewood Reservoir.”

The DEC did not immediately return a request for comment.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Cuomo taps former Councilmember Jim Gennaro for deputy commissioner job


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A former environmental leader in the City Council will take his fight for a cleaner, more sustainable city to the governor’s office.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hired former Councilmember Jim Gennaro to join the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as deputy commissioner for New York City Sustainability and Resiliency, the governor announced last week.

“This year, the state is reimagining New York for a new climate reality, building back better and more resilient after the major storms from the last few years,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am pleased to have Mr. Gennaro join our team at DEC where he will bring his many years of environmental experience to help protect and prepare New York City for extreme weather.”

Gennaro served in the city’s lawmaking body from 2002, chairing the Environmental Protection Committee until he was term-limited in 2013.

The outspoken fracking skeptic and geologist had more than 42 pieces of environmental legislation passed by the City Council in that time. 

He was also awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “Environmental Quality Award” in 2013.

Gennaro’s new responsibilities include helping the city rebuild after Sandy and preparing it for climate change challenges and future storms.

“Jim’s demonstrated passion for improving the environment and his leading role in shaping environmental policies to protect New Yorkers make him a natural fit for DEC,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

$50 million to protect Howard Beach from storms


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

Howard Beach homes will now be protected, starting at the coast.

Spring Creek and Jamaica Bay will undergo a multi-million dollar resiliency project that Governor Andrew Cuomo said will better protect homes and businesses from destructive storms.

“Like several other communities located by the water, Howard Beach suffered incredible damage from storm surges during Sandy,” Cuomo said. “To strengthen Howard Beach against future flooding and storms, we are moving forward on a major project that improves the natural infrastructure along Spring Creek and the Jamaica Bay coast, with the approval of federal funding.”

About 3,000 homes were damaged during Sandy in the low-lying community.

Roughly $50 million will go towards engineering, designing and executing this project, which will cover 150 acres. Excavation, re-contouring and re-vegetation will be implemented by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create a self-sustaining system of wave-dampening barriers intended to reduce storm damage.

“Addressing the flooding problem in Howard Beach is long overdue,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “A project like this cannot happen fast enough.”

Low and high level vegetated salt marshes, as well as dunes and elevated grasslands will be used to protect the community against future storm surges, similar to the floodwaters experienced during Sandy, and a rise in sea level.

About 765,000 cubic yards of material will be dug up across the site and reshaped into an elevated area, and 40,000 cubic yards of sand will be imported and spread across the site.

“I am most interested in the timeframe of this major project, since flood mitigation is a serious concern for my constituents, and the scope of this project is to ensure all parts of Howard Beach, inclusive of New and Old Howard, as well as Hamilton Beach,” Addabbo said.

Mitigation will be done along the eastern shore of Spring Creek on the north shore of Jamaica Bay. The site is bound by the Belt Parkway to the north and a series of roadways to the southeast, including 78th Street, 161st Avenue, 83rd Street, 165th Avenue and Cross Bay Boulevard. It comprises the western and southern perimeter of Howard Beach.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Politicians, locals want trash barged


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Locals and elected officials trashed a recently approved plan that will increase waste-filled train traffic, saying residents need refuge from the refuse.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved a plan on June 11 that increases the amount of sanitation districts’ garbage that passes through the Review Avenue waste transfer station and ends up on trains that travel through Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth.

Currently, 958 tons of residential waste is delivered to the site, Waste Management spokesperson George McGrath said. The new plan will add an additional 200 tons from districts in Queens. The increase would not take place until after the facility is renovated, which has no timetable, he said.

For years, residents have complained about the noise and odor from the trains.

“You have people who can’t open their windows. You have people that I know of that have moved,” said Anthony Pedalino, who lives just down the street from the Middle Village tracks. “It’s just become a nightmare.”

Pedalino documents the daily disturbances recording the times the trains pass behind his house, with the times often occurring before 6 a.m.

Instead of alleviating the issues, homeowners are worried their troubles will only increase.

The DEC said the Department of Sanitation’s (DSNY) analysis found the project’s impact would not be considered significant under the criteria in the State Environmental Quality Review regulation.

“I think any amount of increased noise or odor pollution is too much to withstand for these residents,” State Senator Joe Addabbo said. “These residents don’t need more rails bothering them on a daily basis.”

The DSNY could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Area officials — including State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblymember Mike Miller and Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley — gathered with residents outside the waste transfer station to urge the DEC to reconsider the plan and instead barge the garbage.

Currently, the garbage travels from the Long Island City facility north to Selkirk, NY, crosses the Hudson River and travels back south through New Jersey to Waste Management’s landfill in West Virginia.

“Now I don’t think that makes much sense when you consider this facility is sitting on the Newtown Creek, a waterway,” said Bob Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

Holden and the elected officials want the trash barged to a New Jersey port, either Port Elizabeth or Port Newark, both of which have stops along the CSX rail line that carries the trash.

“All we’re saying is we know the issue, we have to get rid of our waste. Well, we’re saying rationally, go with the barge, it’s right here; enough with the rail,” Addabbo said.

Any legislation to change the route would have to be federal because of the interstate travel.

While barging was considered, McGrath said, the narrowness of Newtown Creek at that point creates logistical problems.

“There is no place to store barges in that area, so you have to move them in and out several times a day,” McGrath said. “That in turn probably involves lifting the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge several times a day.”

“Our focus is working with customers in moving waste as efficiently as possible. In this location we believe rail is the way to go.”