By Patrick Donachie
The first report on the progress of sewer infrastructure repairs in southeast Queens from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection will be available in early 2018, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) said.
Richards joined Councilmen I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) and Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), the chair of the City’s Council’s Committee on Environmental Protection, on Monday in Rosedale to celebrate the mayor’s signing of legislation mandating the new reports, which occurred on March 21.
“For decades, residents of southeast Queens have lived with the fact that a slight rain could end in their home being flooded,” Richards said, thanking de Blasio and other elected officials. “I’d also like to thank all the local advocates, homeowners and business owners who have suffered through the flooding for so many years and never gave up the fight to ensure that our communities receive the adequate infrastructure that many neighborhoods take for granted.”
The legislation is set to ensure that the public can keep track of the progress of sewer infrastructure programs in the neighborhoods with a public online tracking system. After the first report is issued, the DEP will be mandated to continue updating residents for 15 years. The plan must include a projected timeline for completion, as well as funding projections and annual progress reports on how the improvements are being implemented.
“Southeast Queens communities have gone decades without investment to quell chronic flooding issues. Families have always lacked basic infrastructure, including sewer systems and catch basins. These flooding issues were exacerbated after Hurricane Sandy,” Constantinides said. “The bill ensures that DEP submits a flood mitigation plan for southeast Queens, including performance reports and progress tracking on implementation, which increases accountability and transparency.”
The reports follow about $1.7 billion in funding the de Blasio administration has allocated for a 10-year plan to improve sewer infrastructure in southeast Queens, which community members have long requested.
Representatives from the DEP said more than $900 million of the funding would go toward constructing “sewer spines” along 150th Street, as well as Guy Brewer, Farmers and Springfield boulevards.The city also announced a $25 million sewer upgrade for Rosedale designed to reduce flooding. The mayor included his funding allocation in his 2015 executive budget.
“I am pleased that not only is the City finally taking steps to relieve Southeast Queens from flooding, but we are creating a method of transparency which will help ensure these projects are completed in a timely matter,” Miller said.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona