2010-02-26 / Letters

311 Failures

Dear Editor,

I awoke this morning to find virtually every road in Far Rockaway covered with ice, so I called 311. You may imagine my shock when they said that they couldn’t accept the complaint!

First, they can only accept complaints about specific streets, not all streets in an area.

Second, and more important, I was told that their system could not accept complaints about typical Rockaway streets. A quick look at a map will show that all streets in Rockaway run from either water to water (Atlantic Ocean beach to Jamaica Bay), or from water to NYC/Nassau county line. 311 can not accept such complaints! i.e., Mott Avenue from Jamaica Bay to the ocean is not valid.

Third, 311 can not accept a report of a problem outside of NYC. This is important because NYC has substantial infrastructure outside of the city lines. To use Rockaway as an example again, we receive water through a 36” or 48” water main that runs from the Queens “mainland” under NY 878, through Nassau County, to Rockaway. There are control valves in Nassau County on Doughty Boulevard between Redfern Avenue (Inwood) and Foote Avenue/ Brunswick Avenue (Lawrence). I once tried to report an open hydrant on this main, but 311 said that they couldn’t take the report because it was outside of the city. A lot of water comes out of a hydrant on a 36” main. I eventually drove to the nearest NYC fire house (about a mile away), and they sent out an engine to turn off the hydrant.

I have made “agency complaints,” but DOITT, the agency that runs 311, is blind to the design errors and failures of their system.

I believe that 311 is fundamentally flawed, as is DOITT. 311 should be a major resource for the city; instead it behaves as a beautiful meadow with deep, well hidden, chasms.

EUGENE FALIK

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