Tag Archives: DEP

Weekend Roundup


| brennison@queenscourier.com

The-Afternoon-Roundup2

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney names Paul Ryan as his running mate

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney selected Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate Saturday – a bold choice meant to excite the GOP’s conservative base and further make the economy the defining issue of the election. Romney announced his decision Saturday morning at a naval yard in Norfolk, Va., and the duo’s first appearance as a campaign ticket came, appropriately, on the USS Wisconsin – which represents Ryan’s home state. Read more: Daily News

Queens suspect sought in sex assault on girl, 10

Cops are hunting for a creep who they say sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl in the elevator of a Queens apartment building. The suspect went into the lift with the girl and started riding down to the basement level of the building near Colden St. and Franklin Ave. in Flushing about 7:30 p.m. on July 31, sources said. Read more: Daily News

Shot cop Craig Bier released from hospital

Sergeant Craig Bier, who was shot in each leg while pursuing a suspect, was released today from the hospital. Wearing a backward baseball cap and a bandage covering his right knee, the 15-year veteran left Jamaica Hospital less than two days after being shot and a day following surgery to remove a bullet from his leg. Read more: Queens Courier

Queens residents want solutions for flooding problems

The flood waters are long gone except for a small section of Utopia Parkway, where ponding often happens. Some homeowners believe the pooling is caused by the slope in the street and sinking sidewalks. They said they tried for years to get the city’s Environmental Protection and Transportation Departments to fix the problem. Read more: NY1

Queens residents rally to keep local head start program open

Dozens of pre-school children, parents and teachers in Queens rallied Friday to try to keep their local Head Start program open. The Rockaway Head Start is scheduled to close on Sept. 30 because of a lack of funding. The school serves 66 children, ages three to five. Read more: NY1

Fewer geese slaughtered near Queens airports as safety measure


| mchan@queenscourier.com


More than 200 Canada geese were corralled and slaughtered in the city last week as part of the federal government’s attempt to prevent bird strikes near high-traffic airports, but officials said the casualty count is on the decline.

The United States Department of Agriculture removed a total of 255 geese from 12 city parks within a seven-mile radius of LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports last week, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

This year’s roundup total fell from 575 last year and has drastically declined from a 1,357 count in 2010, according to the DEP.

The mitigation measure — the fourth year it has been renewed — is conducted to control the city’s goose population and prevent bird strikes like those responsible for the emergency landings of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 in 2009 and most recently Delta Flight 1063, officials said.

The city said the removal process is “straightforward and humane,” adding that the geese processed for breast meat will be donated for the first time to the state and distributed through local food pantries.

But the mitigation measures continue to draw heat from animal advocates, who protest the killings each year.

“This indiscriminate slaughter is inhumane, ineffective and not supported by science,” said Patrick Kwan, New York State director for the Humane Society of the United States. “It is the wrong way to address the goose population, especially when more humane and scientific solutions exist and have been successfully implemented in Prospect Park and Central Park.”

No geese were removed from Prospect Park this year for the second time in a row. Kwan pointed to goose management programs implemented last year as a major reason for the reprieve of the park’s fowl.

As part of the program, the public is discouraged from feeding wildlife, trained herding dogs are used to move geese out of the park, and eggs are treated to prevent population growth.

Kwan urged the state to make airports and surrounding areas more undesirable for the geese — while preventing flock growth — instead of killing them en masse each year.

“Many of the geese who are currently being rounded up and killed would have never been hatched if the city had adopted the humane goose management plan we have proposed since 2009,” he said.

DEP fights car idling near city schools


| sarahyu@queenscourier.com

Stop Idling

Soon, some Queens kids will be able to breathe a little easier.

In honor of Asthma Awareness Month, a two-week long campaign from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) called “Stop Idling” will be enforced through June 6.

“Stop Idling” will target areas around P.S. 206 in Rego Park; P.S. 220 in Forest Hills; P.S. 98 and 221 in Douglaston; P.S. 811 and 94 in Little Neck; P.S. 41 and 130 in Bayside; P.S. 43 and 104 in Far Rockaway; P.S. 162 in Flushing and P.S. 48 in Jamaica.

According to the DEP, this campaign is an add-on to a 2009 initiative called “Turn It Off,” which reinforced and clarified the legal, financial, environmental and health impacts of vehicle idling.

DEP’s Director of Communications Chris Gilbride said that agency inspectors are going to be monitoring the vehicles in those areas and said that if people are idling for more than a minute near schools or for more than three minutes in other locations, they will be fined $350 for the violation.

DEP officials used public health data that was available for every region of the city from a survey that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene conducted recently.

The DEP looked at the statistics and focused on the areas where there were high rates of people with asthma and then narrowed in on the schools. They also worked with the Department of Transportation to install one-minute idling signs for drivers so they are aware.

Then, DEP officials did surveillance and observed if there was idling taking place at each location. In order to raise awareness of this campaign and this issue, DEP officials stood outside of public schools and handed out flyers to parents, teachers and staff while 1,400 flyers were sent to parent coordinators for them to send out.

Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott said that the “Stop Idling” campaign is going to help produce and keep the environment eco-friendly, which will allow for a healthier lifestyle for not just kids and their parents, but for everyone else who has asthma.

“Reducing traffic and emissions from vehicles and other sources will benefit not only children with asthma, but all New Yorkers with chronic heart and lung conditions,” he said.

 

Oakland Lake Park path to receive much-needed work


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Oakland Park

It took nearly two decades, but the makeover is almost complete.

The Parks Department announced plans for a $1.6 million remodeling of the pathway around Oakland Lake Park at a recent Community Board 11 meeting, ending a 16-year initiative to revitalize the park and allowing locals to finally enjoy the wetland.

“I’m very relieved,” said Jerry Iannece, chair of Community Board 11. “We are getting completion on a project we’ve been working on for almost two decades.”

The Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] spent years rebuilding and cleaning the ecosystem of the lake and created a park booming with wildlife for locals to enjoy, except there was no dry path to walk on.

The trail is flooded and overrun with mud and grime, making for an unstable surface that is difficult to walk through and spoils footwear, say park-goers.

“Oakland Park is a natural wonder,” said Vince Tabone, general counsel of the Friends of Oakland Lake and Ravine. “It’s a unique experience to take friends and family. It takes away from the full experience that you have mud on the pathway.”

The Oakland Lake Path Improvement plan involves building a new raised boardwalk around the lake and imputing drainage pipes under the path to prevent flooding from excess water running down the park’s slope, according to a Parks spokesperson.

The agency expects to start the project by spring 2013 after a review by the Department of Environmental Conservation and awarding a private contractor the bid.

It should be ready for residents within a year of this process, according to representatives from the department.

No one is more proud about the new path than Iannece, who is running for the 25th Assembly District seat. He has been leading the charge to protect the park since 1996 when he was president of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.

With the completion of the walkway set for the near future, Baysiders can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I could bring my kids here and we could do the nature walk,” said Bayside resident Jorge Chong. “It’s the only park around here with a lake.”

 

Board approves 7 percent water rate hike


| brennison@queenscourier.com


For the 16th consecutive year, New York City residents’ water bill will swell.

The seven-member water board approved a 7 percent hike in water rates at a vote Friday morning.

“The 7 percent 2013 fiscal year rate increase is the lowest increase in seven years and is 25 percent lower than the increase projected at this time last year,” said Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The increase will add more than $60 per year to the average one family home’s water bill.

“When an agency is proud that you only have to raise your rates by 7 percent, than we know we have a problem,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder during a public hearing on the rate hikes at Christ the King High School on Thursday, April 26.

At the meeting, the DEP blamed much of the rate hikes on mandated projects from the state and federal government that require the DEP to perform projects despite receiving no funds. That is the primary driver of the rates, the agency said.

This fiscal year, those mandates cost homeowners $253, according to the DEP.

Edward Schubert, an Ozone Park resident who bought a house in the neighborhood was one of the few residents to speak at the hearing.

“The middle class is really suffering right now,” Schubert told the water board. “It’s the wrong time for these increases.”

In the seven years since moving into his house, Schubert has seen his water rates almost double.

The new rate will go into effect on July 1.

 

Water rate hike would soak residents


| brennison@queenscourier.com


Politicians and residents are worried that another year of swelling water bills will leave denizens drowning.

For the 16th consecutive year, New York City residents will be paying more for their water bill if the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) proposed rate increase is adopted.

Assemblymember David Weprin called the hikes “déjà vu all over again,” comparing them to an additional property tax.

“Our proposed seven percent rate increase is the lowest increase in seven years and shows that DEP is doing everything in our power to try and keep rates in check while still delivering a product that city residents can take pride in every time they turn on the tap,” said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland. “Though any rate increase is difficult in these economic conditions, we are clearly moving in the right direction.”

The seven percent hike will add more than $60 per year to the average one-family home’s water bill.

“When an agency is proud that you only have to raise your rates by seven percent, then we know we have a problem,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder during a sparsely-attended public hearing on the rate hikes at Christ the King High School on Thursday, April 26.

Goldfeder authored a bill to cap annual water rate increases at four percent a year for cities with populations over 1 million.

A Weprin-sponsored bill, also in the Assembly, would limit increases to no more than five percent annually, or the rate of inflation.

A DEP representative at the hearing said that capping increases was not an option because of the many costs that are beyond the agency’s control.

The DEP blamed much of the rate hikes on mandated projects from the state and federal government that require the agency to perform projects despite receiving no funds.

This fiscal year, those mandates cost homeowners $253, according to the DEP.

Edward Schubert, an Ozone Park resident who bought a house in the neighborhood in 2005, was one of the few residents to speak at the hearing.

“The middle class is really suffering right now,” Schubert told the water board. “It’s the wrong time for these increases.”

In the seven years since moving into his house, Schubert has seen his water rates almost double.

The seven-member water board, appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will vote on the increase on Friday, May 4. If approved, it will go into effect on July 1.

“There has to come a time where even a city agency or a board of mayoral appointees says ‘I think we’ve pushed out citizens a little too far,” said Councilmember Dan Halloran.  “Maybe it’s time to give them a break for a change.”

Dry spell: DEP pilot project to help relieve flooding


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

IM000281.JPG

Just when Jamaica resident Lurline Williams thought the possibility of ending area flooding had dried up, a new pilot project brought a deluge of optimism. According to Assemblymember William Scarborough, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plans to install two reverse seepage basins along Linden Boulevard, one at 155th Street and one at 165th Street. There will also be a basin placed at the well located at Station 24 in St. Albans.

Each pump is expected to remove two million gallons of ground water per day, according to Scarborough, who said the cost of the project is as yet unclear.
“I’m so happy,” said Williams. “I hope this helps solve [the flooding problems.] We’ve been dealing with this for so long.”

Williams, who has lived on 165th Street for the past 44 years, has experienced devastating water damage to her Jamaica home. Unaware of flooding issues when she first purchased the house, Williams poured countless dollars into fixing rotting wood and eradicating mold. In 2008, Williams gutted her entire basement after a particularly terrible flood.

President of the Jamaica Block Association, Mannie Brown, lives across the street from Williams and is thrilled over the progress.
“I feel good that they’re finally doing something,” said Brown. “It’s been an ongoing fight. This is a relief for the whole block.”

“Progress has been made and we are cautiously optimistic,” said Scarborough. “We’ve had disappointment before. Reaching this point is a testament to the fact that all officials in southeast Queens came together.”

Rising water levels in southeast Queens have been a problem since 1996, when the area’s local water supplier, Jamaica Water Supply, was overtaken by the DEP, the agency that provides water for all of New York City.

According to Scarborough, instead of taking water from one of the 69 previously-present underground wells in the area, the DEP brought in water from other sources, causing the ground water level to rise. The standing water is now almost at surface level.

Roughly 10 years ago, the DEP realized there was widespread flooding. It then directed its attention to cleaning up the well at Station 24 in St. Albans, tainted, said

Scarborough, by chemical runoff from a dry cleaner across the street, as well as implementing new technology to pump and purify the water at Station 6 in Jamaica, which was expected to deliver between six and 10 million gallons of water per day.

In 2005, the project was abandoned because of the cost, according to Scarborough.

In a hearing with the City Council Environmental Protection Committee on September 24, 2007, Former DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd testified that the water had risen over 30 feet between 1996 and 2007, Scarborough told The Courier.

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

Sewers will relieve water woes on Metropolitan Avenue


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley

A current of constituent complaints, along with a wave of support from a local councilmember, has turned the tide for an oft-flooded local stretch of road.

Metropolitan Avenue between 80th Street and Cooper Avenue will receive a new storm sewer system to help relieve flooding, Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley recently announced.

Work began on Monday, March 5.

“For too long, even the slightest rain created dangerous flooding conditions on Metropolitan Avenue near St. John Cemetery,” said Crowley.

The road which cuts through the burial ground is often reduced to a river following any rainfall, creating traffic buildup and dangerous black ice when the water freezes during winter.

“I’m pleased to have worked with DEP [the Department of Enviornmental Protection] to remedy this nuisance for the community,” Crowley said. “Repairs like these are an investment in our neighborhoods that will improve the quality of life for residents for years to come.”

Crowley first wrote to the DEP in April of 2010 asking for the agency to investigate the area’s “ongoing problem” of four lanes of flooding and the potential health hazard of standing water.

Twenty-four inch storm sewers will be installed along with a catch basin to help alleviate the flooding in the area, a DEP spokesperson said.

The agency said the work should be completed by mid-June.

 

Fresh air is on the way for Howard Beach residents


| mchan@queenscourier.com

SHELLBANK BASINw

Lots of sunshine — and clean air — is in the forecast for Howard Beach residents come summertime.

The $3.5 million project to install the Shellbank Basin Destratification Facility was recently completed, according to Carter Strickland, commissioner of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The project is said to curb odors in the surrounding area and improve water quality and local ecology by installing an air compressor station along the shore of the basin — a tributary of Jamaica Bay. The compressor uses air bubbles to mix the water, agency officials said, which prevents the formation of separate temperature layering that often causes foul odors and the frequent death of fish.

“This is another bit of good news for New Yorkers who love Jamaica Bay,” Strickland said. “Living near the water is great, but not when it is so stagnant that it creates unwelcome odors.”

Construction on the facility began in September 2010. According to officials, it will go into operation in late spring, when the warmer weather kicks in and when the compressor is most needed.

“[This facility] is a step in the right direction environmentally,” said State Senator Joseph Addabbo. “I am optimistic that the efforts of the DEP will improve the condition of the water in the basin, the quality of life for my constituents and the fish there and eliminate the odors that have plagued the area for years.”

DEP officials said the new facility features two compressors — one in operation and the other on standby. The compressors will pump air through the 3,800 feet of perforated tubing laid out along 2,000 feet of the basin floor.

“We look forward to our summers to come without the odors and dead fish that prevented us from fully enjoying our unique waterfront location when inversions occurred,” said Betty Braton, chair of Community Board 10.