BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
Mayor de Blasio’s executive budget, released Thursday, includes $1.2 billion allocated toward efforts to curtail flooding in Southeast Queens, Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton), chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, said Friday.
The money will go toward “grey and green” infrastructure, including new catch basins, better drainage systems, and bioswales –natural greenspaces, typically in road medians, mean to absorb rainwater runoff.
“The mayor came through here,” Richards said. “This is something myself and this community has been fighting to get for decades.”
Richards said the biggest flooding issues in his district included areas in Rosedale and Brookville, notably around 148th Avenue near Brookville Park Both neighborhoods are low-lying and are location on or near Jamaica Bay.. Parts of Springfield Gardens and St. Albans will also be part of the program. Much of the problem stems from construction done decades ago as neighborhoods expanded in Southeast Queens, but infrastructure did not keep up with housing construction, the councilman said.
“The agencies screwed up back then,” Richards said. “For whatever reason, the Department of Buildings allowed these structures to be built without the infrastructure to support them.”
The end result is decades of drainage issues during heavy rains that lead to flooded basements, ponding in roadways – that often freezes into dangerous icy conditions in winter – and quicker-than-normal deterioration of road surfaces. Richards also blamed climate change for causing a rise in the water table in Southeast Queens that makes flooding occur more often.
The money will be allocated specifically to Community Boards 12 and 13 and will be spent on projects over the next ten years.
Part of the funding will also go toward a program at York College in which students will canvass Southeast Queens neighborhoods to identify homes that have been affected by persistent flooding.