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Photo by state Senator Tony Avella's press office
Photo by state Senator Tony Avella's press office
Avella, community residents and activists of Bayside joined together on Thursday to contest the installation of bioswales.

The city wants to bring some eco-friendly devices to Bayside, but earlier this month some residents and elected officials said that the government should ask for their permission first.

State Senator Tony Avella and the Friends of Fort Totten Park supported the residents by urging Mayor Bill de Blasio and city agencies to seek homeowner authorization before installing the bioswales. The large planted areas near the curb designed to trap and absorb rainwater are being installed across the city as part of Green Infrastructure Program, an initiative by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Avella recently created a petition on his website that enables New Yorkers to notify the DEP about their decision to opt out of receiving a bioswale in front of their house. The names and addresses of the homeowners who sign will be submitted to DEP.

Avella addressed the issue in a letter from July 14 addressed to DEP, Department of Design and Construction (DDC) and Department of Transportation (DOT).

“I understand the need to address excessive amounts of stormwater runoff, but the city’s plan of forcing homeowners to take on yet another responsibility is simply unfair,” Avella wrote. “The consequences of this bioswale program will negatively affect homeowners for years to come.”

According to some homeowners, they received little notification about the installations and were only offered a small pamphlet issued at their request. Some suggested that the city did not provide them with a proper outlet to offer their input on the matter, or to even request that the devices not be installed.

“Everything is ‘Me, me, me, I know what is good for the homeowner.’ I am almost [at] the point where I think I live in a different country when they tell me what is good for me,” said Wilson Ng, a Bayside resident who will have two bioswales installed in front of his home. Forty other Bayside homeowners came to the meeting with Avella in front of a home on 36th Avenue on July 14.

One resident who has small children worried that she would be blocked from getting them into and out of her car. She voiced her concern that the bioswale, which would be installed directly in front of her house, may disrupt her from transporting her disabled child.

“There is no way a homeowner, a taxpayer, can have this forced upon them without any input whatsoever … An open and honest discussion needs to be started regarding the city’s plans, and an opt-out policy – taxpayers deserve that choice,” said Jena Lanzetta, vice president of the Northwest Bayside Civic Association.

QNS contacted the commissioner of DEP and received no response.




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