Tag Archives: Department of Environmental Protection

Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”

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York College and DEP to survey neighborhoods plagued with flooding


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Department of Environmental Protection

BY ANGELA MATUA

York College students are partnering with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to survey 200 southeast Queens homeowners about their experiences with flooding.

The 10 college students were chosen from classes taught by Dr. Ratan Dhar, York College’s assistant professor of earth sciences. They will use the surveys to determine the frequency and severity of the flooding and what might be causing it. DEP staff members will accompany students as they knock on homeowners’ doors within community boards 12 and 13.

“I am honored that York College has been selected to participate in this important study,” Dhar said. “This is a great opportunity for our students to put into practice what they have been learning in the classroom and in their field research. They will be contributing to the resolution of a long-standing problem in the very communities surrounding our campus.”

The homeowners were identified with the help of community groups, elected officials and 311 flooding complaints. The initiative began on Monday, June 8, and will last about three weeks. At the end of the survey, homeowners will have the opportunity to have a professional engineer assess their homes.

The students, who are mostly juniors and seniors, received Responsible Conduct of Research and Human Subjects Research certifications and training by borough coordinators from Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island.

Students will also distribute copies of the Homeowner’s Guide to Flood Preparedness and teach homeowners how to properly dispose of grease, which can cause blockages in a sewer system.

The initiative is part of the DEP’s $6 billion multi-year capital construction program to build out the sewer system in south Queens. Many neighborhoods in the area do not have catch basins or storm sewers to drain precipitation, which ends up in roadways.

Some projects already in the planning and design phases include a $175 million Springfield Gardens upgrade to be completed later this year, which will  bring 9 miles of storm sewers and 8 miles of sanitary sewers to the area and a $5 million project to install an additional sewer line under 183rd Street at Jamaica Avenue.

“This door-to-door survey will collect detailed information that the DEP can use to develop better solutions for the chronic flooding that has damaged property and endangered lives in southeast Queens,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “Queens commends DEP Commissioner Lloyd for commissioning this important survey of homes in the area, and appreciates Professor Dhar and his York College students for undertaking this important outreach effort.”

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Growing Bayside sinkhole causes concern for drivers and residents


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Updated 9:00 p.m.

Residents in Bayside have a sinking feeling about the hole that suddenly emerged near the middle of 35th Avenue.

The sinkhole appeared between Corporal Stone Street and 214th Place about two days ago, but on Thursday was only about a foot in length, according to residents that live across from the depression.

Overnight it expanded to about 6 feet in length and nearly 3 feet wide. Someone placed an orange cone in front of the sinkhole, which was only in one lane of the road, to warn drivers, but some feared it could still damage someone’s car.

“It’s been horrible,” said Linda Manginaro, who lives on the block, “because I’m afraid someone’s going to get really hurt, especially at night.”

Residents made calls to 311 to get it fixed.

About a week ago, residents said, city workers sealed a smaller depression in the road, which is just few away from the new sinkhole.


The repaired hole runs near the middle of the street like the larger sinkhole, causing some residents to speculate the problem is connected below the ground level. However, the fix for the smaller depression may not last.

“It’s already sinking in,” Manginaro said. “This one, they did such a terrible job. I feel it’s a waste of tax dollars, they come and then a week later it’s [sinking again].”

The Courier reached out to representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection, which handles sinkholes, and although the media section of the agency did not respond to inquiries, workers were out Friday afternoon hours after the article was published fixing the large sinkhole.

Workers at the scene indicated they weren’t allowed to speak to reporters, and couldn’t say what the cause of the problem was.

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Improvements aim to end flood woes on Utopia Parkway


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Office of Rory Lancman

BY ANGELA MATUA

The intersection of Utopia Parkway and 65th Avenue in Fresh Meadows should no longer be plagued by flooding every time it rains.

Councilman Rory Lancman and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced Friday that several measures have been installed to mitigate flooding that has inundated residents for years.

The area has experienced severe floods since 1975 and residents have had to pump out their basements and repair flooded cars, spending thousands of dollars in the process.

The manhole cover in the area, which would have several feet of water shooting out of it when it rained, has been sealed and duckbill check valves have been installed in the catch basins. Duckbill check valves, which get their names from the shape they resemble, prevent back flow in the sewers.

“After years of dangerous road conditions and flooded basements, the Fresh Meadows community will now get some relief,” Lancman said. “These improvements will help limit future flooding on Utopia Parkway, where a veritable lake is formed during heavy storms and basements are inundated with dirty rainwater.”

Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the DEP, said the rainfall early this week proved that these measures work.

“These improvements represent a great collaboration between DEP engineers and members of the community,” Landau said. “And this week’s heavy rains demonstrated that the infrastructure upgrades DEP recently completed worked and helped prevent flooding.”

According to Nadia Chait, communications director for Lancman’s office, the city has acknowledged that the infrastructure is overloaded and is working on a $6 billion multi-year effort to mitigate flooding in all of southeast Queens.

“That’s obviously a very large project, which is why we’re excited about what we’ve done today and [this project is] something that’s going to have an immediate impact for these homeowners,” she said.

DEP officials indicated this project will reduce flooding in the area by 65 percent.

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Newtown Creek Alliance talks cleanup with Ridgewood group


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo courtesy of Newtown Creek Alliance

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

The Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) offered information about the polluted waterway’s ecology during an Earth Day meeting of the Ridgewood Democratic Club Thursday night.

NCA Program Manager Willis Elkins was joined by historian Mitch Waxman and Community Board 2 Environmental Committee Chair Dorothy Morehead to discuss the group’s ongoing improvement and preservation efforts at Newtown Creek.

The NCA was first established in 2002 with the central goal of refurbishing and protecting all 3.8 miles of the waterway, a federal Superfund site straddling the Brooklyn/Queens industrial border.

“We’re in support of maintaining its industrial use, we just want to make sure it’s maintaining a clean state,” Elkins said.

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Newtown Creek was a vibrant salt marsh ecosystem. By the 1950s, however, the creek was one of the busiest industrial waterways in the city. As a result, pollutants including chemicals, dyes, metals and petroleum were left behind.

In addition to industrial waste, one of the many challenges plaguing Newtown Creek is contamination from over 20 combined sewer overflow (CSO) pipes discharging sewage and stormwater into the creek. The nearly 450 citywide CSOs were originally designed to handle the surplus of rainwater entering the sewer system during storms.

According to Elkins, the East Branch CSO, located at Metropolitan Avenue, is one of the biggest pipes on the creek, discharging over 500 million gallons of sewage and untreated stormwater per year. The creek also contains many dead-end tributaries in which water tends to pool and stagnate, promoting bacterial growth.

The rise in bacteria levels from CSO output is responsible for low dissolved oxygen levels and poor water quality. In an attempt to raise oxygen levels, the city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in the process of constructing a complex aeration system designed to pump air into the creek.

The NCA has voiced staunch opposition to the $110 million dollar project, citing concerns over the possible health risks linked to aeration of the creek’s contaminated sediment.

“It’s only treating the symptom and not the actual cause of the bad water quality,” Elkins said. “It’s like putting a bubbler on your toilet and calling it clean water.”

The NCA partnered with a research group to conduct a series of air quality tests. According to Elkins, research showed higher levels of bacteria entering the air while the aeration system was in use. Despite these results, a consensus could not be reached between the NCA, DEP and other agencies regarding the impact on public health.

Elkins voiced support for natural solutions, including the use of cord grasses and “filter feeders” such as mussels and wild oysters to help improve dissolved oxygen levels in the creek. Green infrastructure improvements, such as the installation of bioswales slated for Maspeth, can also help absorb excess rainwater before it enters and the already overburdened sewer system.

Going forward, Elkins and the NCA hope to focus on the creek’s ecology by creating habitats for the many birds, fish, plants and mollusks that have returned in recent years. The NCA recently received a small grant from the Greenpoint Community Environmental Fund to construct a living dock to monitor wildlife. The 180-square-foot structure will feature milk crates filled with substrate that will act as a habitat for fish and invertebrates.

The NCA also partnered with LaGuardia Community College to install cord grass planters along industrial docks and bulkheads.

“It shows you can incorporate life into lifeless structures,” Elkins said.

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Groups warn about upcoming tax lien sales


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

BY ANGELA MATUA

New York City’s annual tax lien sale will take place on Friday, May 15, and Queens homeowners who are not aware that they are on the list can face increased financial burden and even foreclosure.

The tax lien list includes owners who are delinquent on their property taxes, water and sewer bills and other property charges.

The Department of Finance (DOF) sends five letters to each homeowner to notify them that they are on the list. They also release the list 90 days, 60 days, 30 days and 10 days before the sale.

One nonprofit organization is using its website to advise nonprofits and elected officials on how to make the biggest impact when doing outreach to remove people from the list.

“The way the city releases the data, it’s very hard to see as a layperson where the biggest impact is,” Matthew Hassett, director of policy and communications of Center for NYC Neighborhoods said. “So we thought by putting this on a map, it would help everyone involved.”

Center for NYC Neighborhoods (CNYCN) is also aiming to educate the most at-risk communities. Families can access this map and the resources available to help them avoid the sale at cnycn.org/taxliensale.

Instead of foreclosing on buildings, New York City sells the lien to an authorized third party collection agency. This third party becomes the lienholder and, therefore, purchases the right to collect money that homeowners owe the city.

These lienholders can charge up to 18 percent interest and if this money is not paid, homeowners can be hit with a formal foreclosure proceeding, Hassett said.

Homeowners have several options if they find themselves on this list, according to CNYCN’s website. They can pay off outstanding lien charges in full to DOF or water lien taxes to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

They can also enter into a no money down payment agreement to break down the lien into small payments, which can be paid over a time period of up to 10 years.

Exemptions are available for seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and people on active military duty.

The neighborhoods in Queens with the most one- to four-family homes on the list are Jamaica with 1,203 homes, Queens Village with 728 homes and Rockaway with 478 homes. According to Hassett, the 30-day lien list indicates that there are 3,996 homes in Queens that are in danger of having their liens sold on May 15.

Homeowners can call 311 and speak to DOF to make a payment or visit nyc.gov/liensale to enter a payment agreement or complete exemption forms.

To make water and sewer payments, the DEP can be reached at 718-595-7000 or nyc.gov/dep.

The DOF also hosts outreach sessions to assist owners with payment plans, exemptions and more. The dates and locations are listed at nyc.gov/finance.

Hassett also urged families who have questions about payment plans, exemption forms or any other parts of the lien sale process to call CNYCN at 646-786-0888.

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Bioswale construction to begin later this month in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of the Department of Environmental Protection

The confines of Community Board 5 are about to get greener.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced during the Community Board 5 (CB 5) meeting on Wednesday that the construction of 200 to 250 bioswales is set to begin at the end of the month.

Bioswales are curbside gardens that collect stormwater runoff into large, underground basins through 5 feet of specially engineered soil, comprised of layers of broken stone and sandy soil.

“New York’s infrastructure is hard, it’s very dense,” said Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, director of community affairs for the DEP. “Green infrastructure is, in a sense, peeling back a layer of that hard infrastructure.”

“Part of what we’re doing is making the land spongy again,” he continued. “The goal is to improve water quality…this is one of our tools to do that.”

The bioswales help improve the city’s water quality by reducing the amount of rainwater entering the sewer system, which helps lower combined sewer overflow (CSO).

CSO is a combination of sewage water from homes and businesses and stormwater, which can become too much for the sewer system to handle, especially during times of heavy rainfall. The water then overflows and sends untreated water into the city’s waterways, such as Newtown Creek, which suffers from high levels of pollution.

One single bioswale can manage almost 3,000 gallons of water and if the bioswale becomes overfilled, the water is released into the sewer catch basin as it normally would, just at a lower rate so there is not a rush of water that could overflow the sewer system.

With the installation of the bioswales right around the corner, community issues are a major point of concern for the DEP.

“One of the big questions we get a lot is, ‘Who is going to take care of these?’” Abdul-Matin told the board. “We build it, we’re going to maintain it. It’s not like we’re going to pass the buck onto you.”

The construction and installation of these bioswales and other green infrastructure will help clean the city’s water and reduce flooding, making the neighborhoods they serve better.

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City begins $2.1 million storm sewer installation in Glen Oaks


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo via Department of Environmental Protection/Flickr 

To alleviate issues with flooding in Glen Oaks, the city has begun working on a $2.1 million project to install nearly a half-mile of new storm sewers in the area.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is funding the project, which in addition to the storm sewers, includes the installation of 31 street-level catch basins and 19 manholes.

The DEP will also replace nearly a half-mile of distribution water mains so the community will be able to receive high-quality drinking water for years to come. The entire project is expected to be completed by the summer.

“Every day, my district office receives complaints about ponding and flooding on our city streets, causing a multitude of problems for motorists, pedestrians and homeowners,” state Sen. Tony Avella said. “By investing in new storm sewers, catch basins and water mains, we can reduce flooding and improve the quality of drinking water for Glen Oaks residents.”

The storm sewer installation work is taking place along Elkmont Avenue from 250th Street to 252nd Street and on 251st Street from Elkmont Avenue to Union Turnpike. Water collected in the newly installed infrastructure will drain into an existing 72-inch storm sewer on Union Turnpike.

The DEP is also working on a much larger project to upgrade sewers and water mains in Bayside.

This project, which costs $20 million and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2016, will add nearly 4.3 miles of water mains to the area’s distribution system.

The city agency hopes this move will ensure a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water for the northeast Queens neighborhood.

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Lindenwood street still sinking after fixed by DEP


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Despite recent attempts by the Department of Environmental Protection to fix a sinking section of a Lindenwood street, the pavement at the corner of 79th Street and 157th Avenue has again sunk by as much as a foot.

The corner is totally unusable to cars, and residents worry about pedestrians walking there and vehicles possibly getting stuck in the dip.

“The hole has gotten worse than ever since they came in to fix it,” said Joe Thompson, a Lindenwood resident and president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol. “We visited the hole this week and saw a large puddle completely frozen over. What if someone slips into that because the water can’t drain correctly, or what if a car makes too fast of a turn around the corner not realizing the hole [is there]? It’s dangerous.”

The DEP came in October to work on the street after The Courier first reported on the situation. They did extensive work on the infrastructure of the pipes below ground. This included fixing the connection of the catch basin and sewer at the location. They also inspected the adjacent ground water and sewer infrastructure and found everything to be working normally.

Once the repair was completed, the road was resurfaced from 80th Street down to the sinking area. But, almost three months after the work was completed, some of the resurfacing has begun to sink in, creating potholes on the block, and the corner still remains a problem.

The street has been in a bad condition for years but began to worsen after an April 30 flooding disaster, residents said. The Spring Creek sewer overflow facility, maintained by the DEP, malfunctioned during a major rainstorm that night causing the sewers in Lindenwood to back up, flooding the streets.

lindenwoodstreet2

A DEP representative said the department has fixed the problem that was causing the street to sink and that they will continue to work with the Department of Transportation to determine what future steps may be necessary to ensure that stormwater can drain off the street properly.

Thompson said the street needs to be elevated to avoid the potential of a tragedy.

“It needs to be fixed again,” he said. “I understand that it is the winter months and it is hard to repave during this time, but at least put cones around the section and make it a caution area until work can be done.”

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Fresh Meadows residents and local pol tell city flooding must stop


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Gallagher

Fresh Meadows residents have reached their saturation point.

For over a decade, a section of Utopia Parkway has been getting flooded every time it rains more than a few inches, and homes along the street end up with basements, bathrooms and garages overflowing with untreated sewage, according to residents and City Councilman Rory Lancman.

“This is something that’s been going on for many years,”  Lancman said, before going on to describe the issue as both “maddening” and “intolerable.”

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a study of the area and came up with several possible solutions, from raising the curb to installing green infrastructure like bioswales, which are plantings and landscape designs to filter and redirect polluted water.

The long-standing problem, according to residents and city documents, is geography. The area sits in a valley that naturally collects water, overwhelming the catch basins faster than in other areas.

“So it’s not as if the city can’t do anything to alleviate the problem,” Lancman said. “We can’t get the DEP to ultimately tell us what it’s willing to do.”

The councilman is meeting with the DEP next week to see if he can push the department to move ahead with a solution.

In the meantime, residents like Annette Shapiro who live in the problem area between 65th and 67th Avenue worry at the mere prospect of a heavy rainfall.

“Every time it rains, everybody freaks out,” she said. “It’s no way to live. I’m sick of it.”

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The city has a crush on your old toilet — literally


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

toilet

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Waste not, want not.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is looking for contractors to crush 200,000 toilets so the city can put the porcelain bits to other uses.

The DEP announced in May of this year that it is launching a $23 million program to replace 200,000 inefficient toilets in up to 10,000 buildings across the five boroughs. An inefficient toilet can use up to five gallons of water per flush, compared to a high-efficiency toilet, which uses only 1.28 gallons or less per flush.

But what to do with all the old fixtures?

The city intends to use the crushed porcelain in the reconstruction of sidewalks and bioswales, landscaped areas built to absorb storm water.

The porcelain from the toilets will create a flat, compact layer on which the city can lay the concrete for the sidewalk, according to Christopher Gilbride, a DEP spokesman. It will also replace the crushed stone in bioswales.

The project is still in its planning stages and the DEP has not yet identified which sidewalks and bioswales will be reconstructed with the crushed porcelain.

The effort, according to Gilbride, is part of a larger departmental initiative to reduce demand for water in the city by 5 percent before the city shuts down the Delaware Aqueduct for repairs in 2021.

The step will help ensure that the city has enough drinking water supply while the Delaware Aqueduct, which supplies about half of the city’s drinking water, remains shut for eight to 10 months.

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Sinking Lindenwood street being repaired


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

A sinking street in Lindenwood that has caused hazardous situations for drivers and residents for years is now being repaired by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The street, located at the corner of 157th Avenue and 79th Street, was caving in and a one-foot deep sinkhole formed near the catch basin on the corner.

For years, residents say they have been making complaints about the street but nothing has been done until The Courier first reported the story on Oct. 14.

The street began to worsen after an April 30 flooding disaster, residents also said. The Spring Creek sewer overflow facility, maintained by the DEP, malfunctioned during a major rainstorm that night causing the sewers in Lindenwood to back up, flooding the streets.

Joe Thompson, a resident and president of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol, was shocked on how fast the response was to the sinking street.

sinkingstreet-624x416

“I have never seen a response this quick before,” said Thompson, who submitted a 311 complaint three weeks ago about the hole but never got an answer. “It’s another positive closure for the renewal of our quality of life here in Howard Beach.”

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Goldfeder tells DEP to rid southern Queens of sewer odors


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

Southern Queens is the home of the highest concentration of odor complaints in the borough, according to 311 data, which prompted one local elected official to try to clear the air on this issue.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is urging the Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner, Emily Lloyd, to step up efforts and remove debris from catch basins the area, many of which are now leaving foul odors around the neighborhoods.

“Our families shouldn’t have to hold their breath waiting on DEP to clean our sewers,” said Goldfeder. “Debris left by Sandy continues to clog our catch basins and sewers causing standing water and foul odors.”

The report was compiled by the website, BrickUnderground and apartment data site AddressReport, and included a list of the 10 smelliest and 10 least smelly neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan by using data from odor-related complaints that 311 has received.

Five of the borough’s top 10 sites were in southern Queens and included the neighborhoods of Lindenwood, Neponsit, Howard Beach, Bayswater and Broad Channel.

Goldfeder sent a letter to DEP asking them to do a comprehensive review of the sewers in southern Queens and implement a schedule to regularly maintain the problematic ones.

“We have once again earned an awful distinction that could have been avoided,” Goldfeder noted.  “Sandy recovery must remain a priority for every city agency to ensure our infrastructure is updated and prepared for future storms. I strongly urge DEP to immediately investigate all the catch basins in our communities and ensure they are properly maintained to prevent flooding and foul odors.”

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Stringer starts to make offers to settle flood claims


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

SALVATORE LICATA

The city comptroller has begun making offers to Lindenwood residents who suffered damaged to their homes due to the April 30 malfunction of the Spring Creek sewer facility, which is run by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“As of this week, the comptroller’s office has started making offers of settlements to flooding victims, while inspections of additional homes continue,” a spokeswoman from City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office said.

It was unclear how many offers were made or whether any were accepted.

Victims were urged by Stringer during a community meeting in May to make sure they filed claims.

“Engineers from his office moved swiftly through the area and inspected more than 100 homes alleged to be damaged by that flood,” the spokeswoman said.

 

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DEP prolonging wait for compensation in Lindenwood flooding


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

The Department of Environmental Protection has blocked compensation for Lindenwood homeowners whose homes were flooded after a screw-up at a plant run by the agency, residents charged.

The April 30 rainstorm, which caused major flooding to homes that border Spring Creek, was due to a malfunction in the Creek’s sewer overflow facility, operated by the DEP.

The agency has taken blame for the mishap but, despite the assurances of politicians, residents who were affected have yet to see any money from the government, which has many of them outraged.

“Where’s our check?” shouted residents to DEP officials at a meeting of the Howard Beach Lindenwood Civic Association Tuesday night. “It’s your fault.”

The DEP went door to door handing out claim forms to the flood-affected residents. But the money cannot be disbursed until the DEP submits its final report assessing damages suffered and liability.

The agency sent Stringer a preliminary report on June 19, nearly two months after the flood.

The DEP said it needs to check the water elevations to see where the flooding occurred and said there may be further delay because of liability issues involving some independent contractors.

Until both issues are resolved, the DEP cannot fully assess who suffered from the flood and who is liable, said DEP Deputy Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.

Even though no claims have been looked at yet the DEP is still urging residents who have not filed one to do so immediately.

“There is a 90 day period after the storm to file a claim,” Sapienza said. He added that no matter how long the reports take to process this is the only way residents could possibly receive a compensation check.

Since the flooding occurred the DEP has changed protocol on how to handle large storms that may cause an overflow of the system, Sapienza said. They will now have workers at the facilities, such as the one at Spring Creek, who can override the computerized system and open the flood gates. This allows untreated water to flow into Jamaica Bay, which normally happens when the facility overflows, thus relieving the system.

 

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