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Photo by Mark Hallum
The DDC will commence construction on the Penelope Avenue sewer installation project starting Oct. 29.

The city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC) has the wheels turning on a long-stalled sewer installation project in Middle Village which gained the attention of elected officials after residents complained of impacts to the quality of life on 74th Street near Penelope Avenue.

DDC representative Jeff Margolies addressed Community Board 5 on Wednesday, Oct. 10, explaining that starting Oct. 29 contractors for the city agency will begin removing the lead-contaminated soil that stalled project in the first place and commence completion of the sewer and water main installation by the end of 2019.

“The main goal of this project is to alleviate flooding, so we have to go back and build a new sewer that will have bigger capacity to handle storm water that comes into the neighborhood,” Margolies said.

Originally costing the city $22 million, some of the water mains and sewer upgrades were already installed by the time the project encountered a hitch: lead-contaminated soil.

To remove this hazard, an extra $8 million had to be added to the work contract, according to Councilman Robert Holden.

In early September, City Comptroller Scott Stringer held a news conference with Holden, Assemblyman Brian Barnwell and state Senator Joseph Addabbo where they discussed some of damage that has ensued from the stalled project.

Stoops breaking away from the foundations of homes could be seen from soil erosion and large cracks in the ground were impacting the yards of residents down 74th Street.

Nancy DeMino said during the September news conference that flooding in the area has poured into the basement of her home on 74th Street, which is taking an emotional toll on her teenage daughter, who grows increasingly distressed when water starts to form in the cellar.

“It’s also affecting our children. My daughter is 14 and we moved here 10 years ago,” DeMino said. “It’s been 10 years on and off with these floods. What is happening every time there’s a heavy rain, the cable goes out, sometimes the electric goes out … My daughter when it rains, she actually locks herself in her closet and cries.”

According to Holden, the community was built on landfill that was previously a swamp and claimed the DDC had not taken this into account when they began the project.

Margolies said the contaminated soil will be removed on covered trucks and safely disposed of away from the neighborhood.

He added that lead in the soil has minimal effect on the health of residents, but must be removed.

The full scope of the project spans from Gray Street between 66th Drive and Juniper Valley Road, and at the intersection of 77th Street and 66th Road.

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