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Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Jllm06

Every September, the Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) makes appointments for schools to come visit their facility in Douglaston — but issues with Verizon service due to damaged copper lines under Northern Boulevard has changed that.

According to APEC Executive Director Irene Scheid, the organization usually fills up all of their slots for school visits within the first two weeks in September. She estimates that due to their phone and internet issues, they have not been able to fill even half of the slots.

Since 1972, APEC, located at 228-06 Northern Blvd., has been dedicated to educating more than 65,000 New Yorkers about the environment, protecting and preserving Alley Park Pond and advocating for sustainable environmental policies and practices. Since April of this year, Scheid said that the organization has faced a slew of issues linked to their poor service from Verizon, causing them to lose out on several bookings and registrations to their programs.

The executive director said that their school visits have taken a big hit since their issues began. She added that the organization schedules about $200,000 a year in school trips. Scheid said that they have been operating with one main phone line and four temporary cell lines that the nonprofit purchased.

“Two days before APEC’s major fundraising gala, APEC began having very intermittent phone lines, fax lines, credit card lines and internet,” Scheid said. “Verizon came and said the copper line under Northern Boulevard had failed and needed to be replaced. It took over two weeks for us to be up and fully operational again.”

Following that incident, Scheid said that water damage to the copper wire caused service to fail again. Verizon told APEC that water damage was caused by continuous flooding to the valley where the organization is located.

“We have been told this will continue to happen. Verizon does not provide FiOS in this area and we have been told that is will not be cost effective for them to install it even though that is the best solution to our problem,” Scheid said.

In August, Scheid said that Verizon informed them that they would not be able to repair the damaged copper wire and restore phone and internet services until October. Since they are the only business or organization in the immediate area, Verizon rejected the proposal to install FiOS service to remedy the issue.

“APEC is very popular with teachers, schoolchildren and [families]. We generally maintain a waiting list each year of 5,000 school children who would like to come but we are overbooked. With hundreds of children each day in our facility, it is not safe to be without phone and internet access,” she said.

A spokesperson from Verizon told QNS that they would be working on repairing APEC’s issue and expected to have service fixed by the end of the week.

“We are committed to providing every customer with the best experience possible,” the Verizon spokesperson said. “The latest flooding in the area has again damaged the copper cables providing service to APEC. Our engineers will be on-site this week to make repairs which will include some digging on Northern Boulevard. We anticipate service restoration by the end of the week. In addition, we are working on a long-term solution for our impacted customers that will be less affected by frequent flooding.” 

Visit APEC on their website or Facebook page.

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