Bioswales are bad news for Bayside

By Jim Forkan

Maybe you’ve been puzzled by all the strange green paint markings popping up in recent weeks on sidewalks all over Bayside (and probably elsewhere). It’s about a new New York City initiative called “bioswales.” And it’s not good.

Mayor Bill DeBlasio didn’t bother to publicize or explain it to neighborhoods affected by this project—maybe because he knew it doesn’t make sense. It’s on the website (nyc.gov/html/dep/html/stormwater/bioswales.shtml)—but few know it’s there.

Bioswales are swampy rectangular patches that will soon be cropping up on our sidewalks. Based on the markings, some will occupy roughly two sidewalk squares of space (2.5 feet x 5 feet), with others stretching closer to five squares. Supposedly, they’ll alleviate pressure on our sewer system during heavy rains by channeling water as it rushes down streets and holding captured water until it evaporates. Instead of tearing up our sidewalks for this, why not save money and annoyance by just clearing the sewers of leaves and other debris so they don’t clog?

Some blocks may have five or six of these mini-swamps. A couple will be in front of Bayside’s Omega Restaurant, which means customers parking there (many of them elderly) will have to walk around these bioswales—very carefully—or slide over to exit on the street side. And after snow falls, covering these bioswales, the likelihood of accidents will no doubt rise.

Oh, and while we were worrying about Zika outbreaks at the Rio Olympics and in the Miami area, New York City was mapping out what will be super-breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying West Nile and eventually Zika. Not long ago, the city was worried about standing water in our backyards and on rooftops. Now they’ve decided it’s OK to just build big swampy areas right in front of our homes and places of business!

Earlier this year, the city tried to sneak one past the Bayside community with a proposed public high school on 32nd Avenue. But thanks to the efforts of the Northwest Bayside Civic Association and state Sen. Tony Avella, that ill-conceived plan was foiled. Now that association and Sen. Avella again are in the forefront of fighting City Hall by trying to mobilize opposition to this bioswales boondoggle.

Maybe more residents would complain if they knew about it.

Jim Forkan