Northeast Queens will be buzzing with activity come 2020. From construction projects to the expansion of Queens County Farm, here are two stories and developments to look out for in the new year.
Bayside Construction and Underhill Avenue
Since March 2018, the Department of Design and Construction along with its contractor CAC Industries, have been working on an infrastructure project in Bayside. The $62.5 million project aims to install new 8-, 12-, 20-, 48- and 72-inch water mains to improve water service distribution and improve fire protection for residents. As of November 2019, CAC Industries completed approximately 35 percent of QED991. The project’s estimated end date is summer 2021.
As contractors continued working on the project, Bayside residents expressed displeasure concerning safety and their quality of life. Complaints included ear-splitting noise, dust, cracked roads and sidewalks and multiple street closures, which made parking difficult.
Meanwhile, residents living on Underhill Avenue had complaints of their own concerning the construction project. While DDC and CAC work on the Bayside project, they use Underhill Avenue and 170th Street as a storage facility site. Underhill residents said that they experience the same noise and disruptions as the Bayside residents.
Back in February 2019, the residents pushed for DDC and Community Board 7 to remove the site, expressing quality of life concerns and a lack of community input. Nine months later, the residents met at the Auburndale Improvement Association meeting in November to discuss concerns with DDC Deputy Commissioner Andrew Hollweck.
Stakeholders questioned whether DDC had plans to make the site a permanent storage facility for future projects. But Hollweck commiserated with the residents and said that residential neighborhoods “should not be the home to heavy industrial use for eternity and [DDC] will not permit that.”
Hollweck said that although the project is slated to end in 2021, DDC contracted the site until 2022.
Queens County Farm Expansion
In December, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced the expansion of Queens County Farm, which would bring with it an additional 1.6 acres of land. The expansion and restoration would increase the farm’s crop-growing area by more than 30 percent and shorten the food’s journey from farm to table.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik spearheaded expansion efforts, which will aid one of New York state’s longest operation farms in bringing residents more fresh produce.
The New York State Office of Mental Health, which owns the property, reached an agreement with the nonprofit to lease the land for crop production. According to the Queens County Farm Museum executive director, the planned expansion will allow the farm to increase their crop variety to include garlic, potatoes, winter squash, sweet potatoes and corn.
The planned patch of land is located just behind the soccer field on the premises. Weprin said that to prepare for the expansion, farm employees need to install and gate and get a tractor to even out the road area. Employees will also observe the land’s behavior for one season and observe what naturally grows and how best to maintain it.
Community members bought the land from the state-owned Creedmore Hospital in the 1970s. Residents collaborated to save the farm and develop the Queens County Farm Museum in 1975. Prior to this, the land had been continuously farmed since 1697.
Each year, the farm hosts an average of 400,000 visitors, 100,000 of which are students. Visitors to the farm learn about nearly 14,000 pounds of fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers as well as the 270 farm animals on site.