By Naeisha Rose
Amidst the “City Hall in Your Borough” weeklong blitz in Queens, city commissioners for the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Design and Construction announced Wednesday that Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed $1.9 billion to alleviate flooding in southeast Queens through 43 projects.
Local officials and civic leaders were pleased by the Oct. 24 announcement about the promise of new and upgraded drainage systems in St. Albans, Rosedale, Jamaica, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens and other neighborhoods in the region, according to the DEP.
“The lack of a comprehensive drainage system has plagued residents of southeast Queens for far too long. Groundwater flooding and heavy rainfall have cost them thousands of dollars’ worth of damage on their homes and businesses,” said state Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman. “By investing in local sewer projects, Mayor de Blasio will transform the quality of life for this community. With upgraded pipes and water mains, residents will no longer have to live in fear of the next storm.”
The residential and commercial development in southeast Queens occurred after World War II and for decades the drainage system has been failing residents and business owners, according to the DEP.
“Shovels in the ground in southeast Queens mean we are one step closer to a true drainage system and some peace of mind for residents and businesses,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “As we complete each of these projects we will see better drainage, safer roadways, a healthier Jamaica Bay and higher property values across these long underserved neighborhoods.”
Of the projects mentioned, 10 were completed since 2015, another 11 are in progress and the remaining 22 are in the planning and design phase, according to the DDC.
One of the projects in progress was at 134th Street and 156th Street in Springfield Gardens, according to DDC spokesman Ian Michaels.
“I have confidence that the Comprehensive Drainage Improvement Program and the replacement of the old water mains, that Mayor De Blasio has committed to, will alleviate the flooding, enhance the communities with green infrastructure and better the lives of S.E. Queens residents,” said Community Board 12 Chairwoman Rene Hill.
The bulk of flood prevention funding will go toward the construction of large trunk sewer spines along 150th Street, Guy Brewer Boulevard, Farmers Boulevard and Springfield Boulevard, according to the DDC.
Dozens of local sewer projects will connect neighborhoods to the trunk sewer spines. Bluebelts will also be constructed to manage stormwater at Springfield Lake, Baisley Pond, Twin Ponds and Brookville Triangle.
The funding would also provide flood relief for NYCHA facilities, playgrounds, city schools and include smaller sewer extensions on a block-by-block basis, and green infrastructure for roadways, according to the DDC.
“These significant infrastructure upgrades will result in the quality of life improvements that our southeast Queens communities have needed for decades,” said City Councilwoman Adrienne Adams.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose