City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Middle Village lawmakers including State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. (D), Assemblymember Brian Barnwell (D), and City Council Member Robert Holden (D) today met with local homeowners to discuss a delayed sewer project and tour property damage ahead of the City’s hurricane season.
The neighborhood frequently experiences flooding because of poor storm infrastructure, causing sewer backup and damaging resident’s homes after heavy rainfall.
Following a severe storm in 2007, the City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) promised residents a $22 million upgrade to the neighborhood’s sewer system. The project did not begin until almost 10 years later and was suddenly halted a year after contaminated soil was discovered at the construction site.
An additional $8 million was needed for completion, according to the Department of Design and Construction (DDC). Although the project was set to begin in 2014, it still has not been completed and the request to expand the scope of the project has only recently been submitted to the Comptroller’s office for review.
“The City chose to drag its feet on critical storm upgrades for years, putting the people of Middle Village directly in harm’s way,” said Stringer. “This community deserves better – their livelihoods should not be threatened by bureaucracy and City agencies. We are here today to stand with residents to let them know we will do everything we can to remedy this issue immediately.”
Anthony Torre, a frustrated Middle Village resident noted that holes were dug up, left open for months and then backfilled.
“They work, and they go away, but we live here and it’s not right. We want our street back, we want the flooding to stop, and we are counting on our elected representatives to help achieve that,” said Torre.
Addabbo expressed optimism that with the electeds working together, they can urge the city to resume and complete this sewer project, so that his constituents don’t have to live in fear of flooding with every heavy rainstorm. “I appreciate the efforts of our Comptroller, Scott Stringer, to advance the project,” said Addabbo.
Barnwell said surveying the damage is evidence of what everybody already knows. “The infrastructure is outdated and needs immediate improvements. Our community deserves better and we will settle for nothing less,” he said.
Holden noted that the flooding has been a problem in Middle Village for decades, and area residents have had enough of the red tape and bureaucracy from city agencies.
“Not only do my constituents deserve better infrastructure, but as taxpayers, deserve it on time and under budget. We need the city to step up and get this project completed. Enough is enough,” said Holden.
Last year, Stringer joined residents and local leaders in nearby Maspeth to learn more about the infrastructure upgrades along Calamus Avenue, and the problems construction caused for residents.
After the tour, the Stringer fired off a letter to the DDC, outlining the complaints of the community and demanding immediate action. DDC agreed to post more information in advance and engage with the community, yet residents said they still do not have a clear timeline for when the project will be completed.