By Jon Cronin
The residents of Calamus Avenue in Maspeth continue to be frustrated with the collateral damage done to their homes during the massive sewer and water main replacement project that has uprooted the street and sidewalk and damaged the quality of their drinking water.
Ben Geremia, a 60-year resident of the street, said that, in 2015, he saw that the city Department of Design and Construction’s contractor, CAC Industries Inc., had installed a red rubber hose as a temporary water supply for his home.
Geremia took a photo of the rubber hose, found the manufacturer and called to ask for its use. According to Geremia, the manufacturer does not recommend the hose for use of drinking water. He noted that a few days later, he spoke with CAC’s foreman and had the hose removed from his house.
Then, a clear hose was installed a few days later and Geremia once again consulted the hose’s manufacturer to discover that it was also used for non-potable water. Eventually, his home received the correct temporary hose.
Two years later, he was astonished to discover that CAC Inc. was uncovering red hoses buried in the ground and supplying water to his neighbors.
He points out that he was the only one who complained and [although he has no evidence], he is worried that his neighbors are not getting quality drinking water.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) recently visited the project with city Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assemblyman Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth).
Crowley wrote in an email to a Calamus Avenue resident that the Department of Design and Construction, which oversees the project, told her that the agency “replaced [the red hoses] with permanent copper pipes months ago, with the exception of the last home on the end by 74th Street, where the sewer work is being finalized.”
In the email, she promised to find an “investigator/ professionals to insure that all materials used by CAC are up to safety standard requirements.” She added that she would meet with Stringer and the commissioner of DDC to insist that materials are up to safety standards and request a review of the contractor’s work and materials to ensure the safety of the residents.
Many of the homes on Calamus Avenue have suffered damage to their patios, front steps and foundations due to constant vibrations from the construction. Crowley noted that damage from the construction should initially go through homeowner’s insurance. She believes that the private insurance company should come to inspect the damage.
If denied, she said, residents should file a claim against CAC Industries by contacting Bita Mehrpour, the DDC community liaison, at (718) 424-1058 or (516) 322-4623—or email her at SE814CCL@gmail.com or write to CAC Industries, 54-08 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 1110.
She said that residents should file a claim within 90 days to the comptroller’s office. That claim can be filed here: https://comptroller.nyc.gov/services/for-the-public/claims/e-filing/.
Stringer release a statement his week after his recent visit to Calamus Avenue, during which he called the street “a war zone.”
“When I visited, I met seniors who told me their property was ripped up and discarded without notice,” he said. “I spoke with families who were deeply fearful about the stability of their house foundations. Residents reported that the project created leaks, cracks, and damage in numerous homes. The work site looked like absolute chaos in a residential community—and it must be remedied as soon as possible. We’re going to keep demanding accountability and we’re going to keep holding DDC’s and the company’s feet to the fire. This community deserves better. Every person with a legitimate claim, no matter how big or small, deserves to be made whole.”