By Gina Martinez
Residents of College Point are asking that a sewage leak at MacNeil Park be cleaned up.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) sent a letter Aug. 7 to the city Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Department of Environmental Protection commissioners about a video he received showing raw sewage flowing last weekend from a hole in the ground at the College Point park, located at 119-01 Poppenhusen Ave.
In the letter, Avella informed the commissioners that his office contacted DEP last weekend, alerting the agency to the condition. Avella also requested that the three city agencies jointly inspect the site as soon as possible and let him know how they plan to address this serious health issue.
The Parks Department responded the same day and said the back-up was caused by a blockage in the sewer line.
“Parks plumbers were on site yesterday to assess the situation,” a Parks spokeswoman said. “A cesspool company was hired to clear the line, and we are working with DDC to resolve the issue.The affected area has been roped off, but the park is otherwise open.”
Avella said it is never acceptable for raw sewage to be flowing out of the ground like a geyser from a public park.
“The city needs to finally do its job and begin to take care of the unsanitary conditions that exist throughout the city,” he said. “Allowing these conditions to continue puts the people of New York in serious danger and is disgraceful.”
A Parks Department spokeswoman said the waste was removed from the Park Monday and that the problem was caused by a DDC contractor who was doing work in the area. DDC is working to fix the larger issue with the sewer lines, she said.
Dr. James Cervino, a College Point marine and earth scientist, said the Parks Department is not dealing with the situation in an enviromnmentally friendly way, and that they refuse to respond to calls and emails.
Cevino said the yellow tape around the area of the overflow is not sufficient and that people in the area are still exposed to the elements. Cervino ran a pathogen test and the bacteria samples tested positive for enterococcus. The sewage is right next to a ball park and Cervino said residents, soccer players and anyone who walks by the area could be exposed to ecoli.
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart