2007-12-07 / Community

DEP Announces Plans To Fix Flooding In Rockaways

By Miriam Rosenberg

Rockaway residents who suffer flooding problems each time there is a heavy rainstorm may find some relief from a Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) plan to repair storm sewers on the peninsula in the next few years.

The ten sewer projects, two of which have already been completed, are part of a drainage project throughout Southeast Queens designed to alleviate constant flooding problems.

"We're going to be putting sewers where there weren't [any] and cleaning out the old storm surges," said Mark Lanaghan, the assistant commissioner of intergovernmental relations for the DEP at a meeting in Springfield Gardens last month.

A representative for the city's Department of Design and Construction, which will be doing the actual work, expanded further on the projects.

"The scope of work for all of these projects is mainly storm sewer and water mains with some sanitary sewers, except for [Sommerville], which also has highway work [planned]," said Anthony Pollio, in an e-mail that was forwarded to The Wave by the DDC's press secretary.

Three projects are scheduled to begin in fiscal year 2008, which began in July of 2007.

These are planned for the area along Rockaway Beach Boulevard, from Beach 90 to Beach 94 Streets; in the Sommerville area, between Thursby Avenue and Rockaway Freeway; and the continuation to the next phase of work in Edgemere. Work will take place on Beach 43, 44 and 45 Streets, north of Beach Channel Drive to Conch Basin; and on Hantz Road, between Beach 44 and Beach 45 Streets, as well as on Norton Avenue, between Beach 44 and 45 Streets.

The first phases of work in Edgemere and along Thursby Avenue have already been completed.

In fiscal year 2009, a new phase of the Edgemere project is set to begin. The areas that will be impacted include Beach 46 to Beach 49 Streets, between Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Norton Drive; Beach 51 Street, between Beach Channel Drive and Almeda Avenue; and Beach 41, Beach 42, Beach 44 and Beach 47 Streets, from Rockaway Freeway to Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Both Edgemere phases include fixing the streets and sidewalks, as well as installing new storm and sanitary sewers and water mains.

Also in 2009, work will begin at various locations along Chandler Avenue and New Haven Avenue, and on a storm sewer outlet between Beach 42 Street and the bulkhead along Jamaica Bay.

In fiscal year 2010, improvements will begin on Bay 32 Street, from Healy Avenue to Dwight Avenue, Bessemund Avenue, from Bay 32 to Bay 30 Streets; and Dwight Avenue, between Bay 32 Street and the Norton Basin.

Also in 2010, there will be "a reconstruction of sanitary sewers, storm sewers and water mains in the Arverne/ Edgemere HopeVI neighborhood revitalization area," said Matthew Monahan, the press secretary for the DDC. The project will be on Beach Channel Drive from Beach 62 to Beach 49 Streets and Beach 54 Street from Almeda Avenue to Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Total cost of all the new projects is projected to be more than $98 million.

The representative for the DEP could not cite any specific reason for the projects being undertaken at this time. Over the years, residents have complained of constant flooding after rains. There have also been unprecedented numbers of new homes built on the peninsula over the last few years.

While they are not involved in the decision-making process, a spokesman for the DDC explained the reasoning behind these types of projects.

"Usually the infrastructure is approaching the end of its usual service life or there is growth in the area," Monahan.

Monahan concluded by saying that, "this is the continuing investment in upgrading the infrastructure of the Rockaways." arrived on the scene, questioned Wiita and viewed his photographs. Following the public interrogation, the officers released Wiita from the handcuffs and allowed him to leave." "I was surprised and upset that I could be handcuffed on the street for taking a photograph," Wiita said. "What was really disheartening was that I knew this had probably happened before and that it could happen again to anyone."

Christopher Dunn, lead counsel in the case, said many other photographers have reported similar incidents and that the NYPD was fully aware of these problems as a result of a letter the NYCLU sent to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly in May 2006.

"People cannot be arrested or handcuffed for taking pictures," Dunn said. "Photography is fully protected by the First Amendment, and police investigations into photographers must be sensitive to that. The NYPD clearly has failed to sufficiently train and supervise its officers to ensure that people can take photographs without fear of police harassment."

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