A $19.7 million upgrade to the sewer, trunk and water delivery systems in Bayside has been in limbo for months, and residents are still looking for answers.
Ali Mallick, deputy assistant commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), attended the Nov. 29 Bayside Hills Civic Association (BHCA) meeting to update residents on the ongoing situation.
“I feel ashamed coming down here and talking to you because this is not what DDC does,” Mallick said. “Our housekeeping is much, much better than what I see over here,” referring to the construction equipment left strewn around the streets in areas of the Bayside Hills neighborhood.
The construction project encompasses areas between Springfield Boulevard and Bell Boulevard in the Bayside Hills neighborhood. The project began in 2014 but was stalled the following year after the original bidder for the project, Trocom Construction Corp., filed for bankruptcy.
In the interim, the DCC was unable to remove the construction company’s equipment from the area, leaving the streets in disarray, and the agency was left to begin looking for a new contractor for the job.
“We have a new contractor that’s coming on board,” Mallick said. “We have good experience with that contractor and he’s ready to start work.”
Mallick explained that “95 percent of the negotiating has been done” and that the DDC is “confident” that the company will accept the terms. Should the new company accept, they would begin the project at the beginning of the new year on a larger budget than the original company.
Mallick projected construction will finally be completed in the summer of 2018.
Residents, clearly frustrated with the ongoing situation, groaned and began speaking with each other when Mallick announced the project’s far-off completion date. Residents’ biggest concern was the large pieces of equipment that the bankrupt construction company left behind in the streets.
“It takes time to make sure this gets done,” Mallick said. “We will make sure the pipes are ready before we start excavation.”
“This community has been putting up with a lot,” Councilman Barry Grodenchik said. “There’s nobody here that would say that we don’t want new water mains; we need new infrastructure. These mains are almost a century old and they are not big enough to serve our community … So this is a top concern with me.”
“We are going to be keeping tabs and making sure that when 2018 rolls around, we really are sealing the deal [on the project] and moving on,” Assemblywoman Nily Rozic added.
Still, residents were not wholly convinced.
“The word that is missing is relief,” said one resident. “And I’m not impressed with what I hear in terms of what has been done to provide relief to my neighbors … This neighborhood is going through a very difficult time.”
With many residents still uneasy, civic members requested a more exact timeline from DDC at the group’s next meeting in January. Mallick agreed to do so.
“Our job now is to get this done with,” said Michael Feiner, president of BHCA.