By Alex Robinson
S.J. Jung has joined the effort to clean up the heavily polluted Flushing Creek.
The state Senate candidate, who is challenging Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), declared last week that cleaning up the waterway is one of his top priorities.
“Managing the sewage overflows and cleaning up Flushing Creek will provide a solid foundation upon which to finally revitalize the waterfront and create more green and open space, as has recently been done in the Brooklyn riverfront area,” Jung told reporters on the banks of the creek. “Longtime residents still remember the good old days when they swam in the Flushing River. Let’s turn those golden memories into a longterm vision for the future and ultimately a reality.”
The waterway, which separates Willets Point from Flushing, is deluged with about 800 million gallons of human waste every year from combined sewer overflows. Any significant rainfall overwhelms the city’s antiquated sewer system, leading to enormous amounts of sludge seeping into Flushing Creek and the bay it feeds into.
The city Department of Environmental Protection announced what it called a longterm control plan to attack the sewer overflow problem in June, but has not committed to specific solutions yet.
The city installed a 43-million-gallon sewage retention tank in 2007 to alleviate the burden of the sewer system. A second retention tank is now one of a number of ideas that DEP is considering as well as installing green infrastructure, such as green roofs, curbside bioswales and permeable pavements, which would reduce the amount of rainwater flowing into the sewer system.
“We must first find and implement efficient solutions to manage combined sewage overflows. Secondly, we clean up the polluted river,” Jung said. “Only then can we move forward with revitalizing the waterfront and create more green and open space.”
Jung made the announcement as part of the unveiling of his plans to tackle quality-of-life issues, which included voicing his support for a group of Elmhurst residents protesting a homeless shelter the city moved to their neighborhood without prior warning.
“We must direct our outrage towards the seriously flawed process that left our community completely in the dark,” he said. “We must direct our outrage towards the unfair and unbalanced distribution of homeless shelters in our city. And lastly, we must also demand our government tackle the root causes of homelessness, including the lack of affordable housing and unlivable wages for low-income families.”
While Jung said the neighborhood could not handle another homeless shelter, he also condemned some of the vitriolic insults hurled at homeless people during the protests, dismissing the attackers as a small minority in the group of protesters.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.