City begins sewer project’s long-awaited final phase

Photo by Rich Bockmann
By Rich Bockmann

When Annette Jennings-Bradley moved to Springfield Gardens 25 years ago, there were 33 homes near Springfield Lake. Neighbors had told her the area was created from landfill, and if she built her house there, it would sink into the ground within 10 years.

Nearly three decades later, the new homes are still standing, and the neighborhood is finally getting the last of its sewers.

“Thank God it’s finally arrived! It’s been a long time coming,” Jennings-Bradley, president of the New Springfield Gardens Homeowners Association, said Tuesday morning as the city ceremoniously broke ground on the final phase of a $175 million infrastructure project.

Neighbors have complained for years that when it rains. Springfield Gardens resembles Springfield Lake more than they would care for. In fact, as city officials gathered near the lake to kick off the final, $69 million phase, streets to the east of the lake were flooded from the previous night’s rain.

Beginning nearly a decade ago, the city started making infrastructure upgrades in three phases to the west of the lake, and Jennings-Bradley said the difference has been like night and day.

“The sewers perform magnificently,” she said. “We really feel like they belong to us. We’re really careful about not letting debris accumulate in them.”

Part of the reason the project has taken so long has been due to the required coordination between city agencies. The city Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation and the city Economic Development Corp. all have a hand in the upgrades, which go far beyond sewers.

In addition to 2.8 miles of sewer lines, DEP will also install 84 catch basins with the ability to remove up to 2.5 million gallons of water with every storm, said DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland.

The work, expected to be completed in 2014, will also include 3 miles of water mains, 990 trees and a DEP Bluebelt project, which uses natural topographical features to drain and filter water through a renovated Springfield Lake into Jamaica Bay.

“Jamaica Bay also wins from this project,” said Zach Smith, the project’s director from the EDC.

DOT will contribute curbs and sidewalks along the side streets and Springfield Boulevard, where DOT Queens Commissioner Maura McCarthy said they were much needed.

“No longer will people have to walk in the street,” she said.

The department also plans to install a traffic light by nearby PS 251 as well as a pilot program of more than 25,000 square feet of porous concrete in the median strip of Springfield Boulevard, which will allow the ground to seep up rainwater.

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Laurelton) said he was proud to see the city and community come together “to complete something our grandchildren will be proud of.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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