City to address concerns of Maspeth residents about major sewer project, including reimbursement

Stringer in Maspeth 2
Photo courtesy of Comptroller Stringer’s office

Since visiting the Calamus Avenue sewer project location in Maspeth last month and saying the community looked “like a war zone,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer has met with staff from the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to address residents’ concerns.

In a letter written following his visit to Maspeth, Stringer outlined to DDC acting Commissioner Ana Barrio the community’s complaints regarding the work including external and internal damage to homes, little to no notice of water service interruptions, and many other issues. He also requested a meeting with DDC staff.

“When residents in this community reported damage, I was alarmed. When they said their property had been destroyed, it was disturbing,” Stringer said in a statement. “Residents described being deeply concerned about the future of their homes. All of it means that we need to continue demanding answers and community engagement from DDC.”

During the meeting — which included members of Assemblyman Brian Barnwell’s and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s offices — Stringer reported in another letter to Barrio that DDC agreed to a number of commitments to strengthen the agency’s relationship with the community.

Those commitments include:

  • Sending a letter to all area residents outline the scope of the work being done in the area as well as a timeline for the work — specifically informing residents that DDC will repair all roadway surfaces, curbs and sidewalks that have been damaged by the project, and that DDC will fix damaged fences that resulted from the project. It will be distributed in both English and Chinese and explain that the Calamus Avenue project will be completed by Thanksgiving, along with all mentioned repairs at no cost to the homeowner;
  • DDC will send a copy — in English and Chinese — of their Standard Construction Operating Procedure for Potential Claims to address the confusion about seeking compensation for alleged property damage;
  • DDC will inform residents that their water has been independently tested by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and has been found safe to drink. DDC will also make all past test results public and will perform additional testing upon request; and
  • DDC will seek an immediate and permanent solution to the need for Chinese translation

“Our office, Councilmember Crowley’s office, and Assemblymember Barnwell’s staff have met with city officials. We had a constructive conversation, we’ve induced some positive steps forward, and we’ve put some points on the board,” Stringer said. “Yet, there’s no question that the agency needs to communicate better with the community on this project, and it needs to work with — not against — neighborhood leaders. We’re going to keep pressing for results and accountability. It’s simply the right thing to do.”