By Ayala Ben-Yehuda
Residents of Bayside’s Lakeside Towers implored engineers on the Alley Pond Drainage Improvement Project to spare trees in front of the high-rise and to start the noisy sewer construction later in the day at a meeting in front of the building Friday.
But city Department of Environmental Protection engineers and contractors on the project to alleviate street flooding in the areas around Queensborough Community College said some trees on the south side of 46th Avenue would have to go to make way for a large underground pipeline.
“We accept it,” said the Lakeside co-op board president, Don Black, of the sewer project. “We just don’t want the front of our building destroyed.”
DEP engineers and representatives from URS Corporation, the project’s contractor, also said starting work at 8 a.m. instead of 7 a.m. as residents had requested would lead to cost overruns and delays on the project.
Lakesiders and City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) wanted advance notification of any tree cutting after several large trees that had served as a barrier between the towers and the Cross Island Parkway were removed for the project about two months ago.
“Don’t cut any trees down,” said one woman who asked DEP to come up with an alternative placement for the 46th Avenue sewer line that would prevent the loss of trees on the street.
A plan to do just that in nearby Bayside Hills was under discussion between Community Board 11 and DEP, but project manager Nicholas Cholewka said the pipeline planned for 46th Avenue was too large to make its relocation feasible.
Avella and Lakeside residents were also upset to hear that work at a staging area across Cloverdale Boulevard would continue at 7 a.m. instead of being pushed back to 8 a.m. as had been discussed at a recent meeting with Borough President Helen Marshall.
“It was a mistake to pick this as a staging area,” said Avella of the former ballfield that was being used to store construction equipment. “Seven o’ clock is not acceptable.”
News that engineers would stabilize the soil in the area by driving metal piles into the ground from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. was also greeted with a groan by residents.
Lakesiders were informed that the intersection of 223rd Street and 46th Avenue would be closed to through traffic for a four-month period, although it was not clear when the closure would begin. Towers residents were assured that they would still have access to their parking garage.
While some residents expressed anger about the tree removal and inconveniences caused by the project, others were more accepting.
“I’m glad they had the meeting,” said Lakeside Towers resident Felicia Denzer. “I hope at least there is some substantive improvement regarding these questions.”
Another Lakeside resident who declined to give his name was more pessimistic.
“I didn’t like the arrogance of the contractors,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to address the needs of any of the residents here.”
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.