By Mark Hallum
A fire hydrant in front of a Bayside co-op has become an ongoing problem for residents who have complained about the presence of standing water attracting mosquitoes. Superintendent Ray Garcia said the leak started four months ago and has kept a steady supply of stagnant water in the gutter in front of the residences near 203rd Street and 35th Avenue ever since.
Multiple calls to 311 have done nothing to quell the flow of from the hydrants open side cap, Garcia said.
“We’re concerned about the water being wasted, and now there’s a good amount of mosquitoes here, which is killing us,” Garcia said. “We called 311, all of here in this co-op, and nothing’s being done. We have a pregnant woman here who is complaining and we have young children all around here.”
One elderly resident whose home sits closest to the hydrant said the mosquitoes wasted no time infiltrating her apartment when her son came to install an air conditioning unit in the front window. He pulled the window cover to the sides and the woman said a small swarm of insects took advantage of the situation.
Garcia pointed out that the city Department of Environmental Protection had been at the location over the past few months, but they were not there to see to the problem with the fire hydrant. A drill was being used to test the density of the soil just a few feet from the hydrant itself, a method used by the DEP to prospect for suitable locations for bioswales.
According to the DEP, bioswales are green infrastructure installations cut into the pavement to absorb rainwater and remove some of the burden from the sewer system. The ultimate goal of a bioswale project is to clean up waterways, in this case Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay, a DEP spokesman said in July. A similar project in Brooklyn launched in June by the city agency will cost $35 million and install more than 800 bioswales to improve water quality in Jamaica Bay. About 30 feet away from the hydrant is green spray paint commonly used by the DEP to mark where bioswales are likely to be installed.
A DEP spokesman did not have adequate information on the hydrant in question to respond to inquiries before press time.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) has taken up his beef with the DEP and the de Blasio administration for their method of deploying the bioswale program without seeking approval from homeowners before installing them in front of properties. Avella has been calling for an opt-out program for both the green infrastructure installation and the preliminary drilling.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall