Stalled sewer project in flood-prone area of Middle Village will be restarted this month

Senator Joseph Addabbo, Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, Councilman Robert Holden, Comptroller Scott Stringer and local resident Nancy Demino look at damage from a sewer project on 74th Street in Middle Village on Sept. 4.
File photo/QNS

After months of inaction and complaints from Middle Village residents, crews will once again be hard at work on a major sewer reconstruction project later this month.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) informed Community Board 5 and Councilman Robert Holden’s office that it will resume work by the end of October on sewer improvements in the flood-prone area of Penelope Avenue and 74th Street.

The project, which aims to eliminate flooding conditions experienced during heavy rainstorms, stalled earlier this year after Holden learned that lead-contaminated soil had been excavated and improperly hauled away from the site.

Holden and City Comptroller Scott Stringer toured the work area in September after receiving complaints from local residents about construction damage that had yet to be remedied. Holden noted that the project required $8 million to cover the proper removal of the contaminated soil; Stringer said he would work to expedite a change order to free up that funding.

With the change order finally moving forward, so will the project, according to Holden.

“While I hoped that the project could get underway sooner, I thank Comptroller Stringer for visiting the site and for approving the necessary funding,” Holden said in an Oct. 2 statement to QNS. “I will continue to stay on top of this project to ensure that it is completed without any more hiccups.”

Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri said that he hoped the city’s DDC had learned a lesson from the contaminated soil fiasco in Middle Village. He noted that the the agency conducted soil borings at a project work site in the Rockaways to look for contaminated soil prior to excavating.

“You’re going to find a lot of that contaminated soil in the Middle Village area” close to Juniper Valley Park, he said, pointing out that the swampy area in and around present-day Juniper Valley Park had been used as a garbage dump decades ago, before it was developed. Prior to development, landfill areas were excavated and capped with fresh soil to prevent further contamination and avoid any health hazards.

The timeline for the project’s completion remains fluid, according to Community Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. To this point, crews had installed new water mains throughout the work area, but much more work remains, including installing new sewers under Penelope Avenue and 74th Street and two large sewer chambers designed to help remove runoff more easily without causing backups.

Representatives of the DDC are scheduled to speak further about the Penelope Avenue sewer project at the next Community Board 5 meeting, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night, Oct. 10, in the cafeteria of Christ the King High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave. For more information, call 718-366-1834.

This story was updated on Oct. 2 at 5:50 p.m.

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