BY JON CRONIN
Angry Calamus Avenue residents vented their frustrations during a meeting last week regarding a sewer project that has inconvenienced the community for nearly four years.
The Woodside residents complained about a lack of bus service, cracks in their homes from project vibrations, materials left on the street, uneven sidewalks and potholes.
The project was inspired by heavy storms in 2007 and 2008 that overwhelmed the sewer system. It was then realized that the system needed to be upgraded.
At the meeting, Ali Mallick, the assistant coordinator of North Queens Construction for the city Department of Design and Construction, said when the project was initially started and they began to tear up the road, it was clear that the DDC’s records of what was underneath the street did not match the reality of the design.
Mallick said they had to go back to the design phase, which delayed the project. He stated that when a project is delayed in this manner, the cost goes up by millions, but they were able to keep the price tag at approximately $23 million to $24 million.
He said that as of right now, the project is on track to be finished in May 2018, but added that part of it would be finished at a later date.
Mallick added that the contractor is scheduled to work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., but the DDC will push for them to work until 5 p.m. and on Saturdays.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), who hosted the town hall at St. Mary’s of Winfield, said she “wanted something better than what is on the table,” adding that the residents do not want the contractor to work on Saturdays.
Many residents also complained about the numerous potholes on Calamus Avenue, which they described as “craters,” as well as bolts, nails, small materials and large-diameter piping left on the street for months.
Jason Banrey, deputy borough commissioner for the city’s Department of Transportation, said that while the sewer project is still underway, the city will not repave the street. Banrey said the agency would not spend city money when the street would have to be torn up again. He added that the DOT would fill in potholes when the agency spots them or if requests were made by residents.
At last week’s meeting, one resident from 71st Street said that she was upset after she heard a boom from the construction several days before the meeting and then saw a crack appear on her bedroom wall.
Residents were also concerned by utility poles’ being moved back from the street onto their properties, wondering if it meant the street would be widened. Crowley told them that it would not be widened.
Crowley said she was “very frustrated” about the project and criticized the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which she said has diverted a bus route away from Calamus Avenue. The agency did not attend Crowley’s town hall.
Near the beginning of the meeting, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said that the Calamus Avenue sewer project was “temporary,” which caused attendees at the meeting to shout, “Four years is not temporary.” The senator conceded that the upgrade was a “long temporary project,” but one that would benefit the community.