Sewers not adequate for SJU dorms: Engineer

Sewers not adequate for SJU dorms: Engineer
An independent engineer found that the sewers near the dormitory under construction for St. John’s University cannot accommodate the 400-plus residents who are to live at the site. The builder refutes the claim saying all necessary agencies have signed off on the planned sewer work. Photo by Alex Christodoulides
By Alex Christodoulides

Jamaica Estates residents declared a major victory in the fight against a 485-bed dormitory under construction for St. John's University when the engineer they hired, with financial help from their elected officials, said the sewer infrastructure is unable to handle the burden of so many new residents.

But St. John's said the builder of the Henley Road dormitory, H2H Residences' managing partner David Belt, had told the school that the firm has already addressed the issue and was working with the city Department of Buildings on permits.

In an excerpt from the Aug. 4 report the engineer, Joel Miele, says the demand on the sanitary sewer is more than double what it can handle.

“The flow, based on the actual number of beds, which is a more accurate gauge as to the density of the site, is 1.57 cubic feet per second, which represents 270 percent of the capacity of the sewer,” Miele wrote in his report, an excerpt of which was circulated by state Sen. Frank Padavan's (R-Bellerose) office.

“The fact that the flow from this site alone far exceeds the capacity of the existing sewer, as well as an insufficient slope (low velocity), leads me to believe that the existing sewer downstream of this site will suffer recurring back-ups affecting all property owners upstream of the site,” Miele wrote.

Miele also wrote in his report that the existing sanitary sewers along Highland Avenue and Kingston Place, the two blocks south of the Henley Road site, would need to be replaced.

In January, Belt said H2H had done its own study of the sewers and spoken with the city Department of Environmental Protection about upgrading the sewer along 172nd Street to handle the increase in sewer capacity.

St. John's said last Monday that it was taking Belt's word that the sewer issues have been addressed with DEP and the DOB.

“Since we last spoke (in late July), Mr. Belt and H2H has received the appropriate sewer permit and the work has been coordinated with the DEP, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the DOB,” St. John's wrote in an e-mail to the TimesLedger.

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