Sunday, November 21, 2010

Residents Seek Answers on Ozone Park Sewer Plan by Bryan Yurcan - Queens Chronicle

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Residents pack the Ozone Park Civic Association meeting Tuesday to speak with officials from the city Department of Design and Construction on the HWQ411B sewer project. PHOTO BY BRYAN YURCAN

Hundreds of residents came out to the Ozone Park Civic Association meeting Tuesday looking for answers about potential eminent domain proceedings in the Centreville area.
About 500 Centreville residents received letters last week from the city Department of Design and Construction regarding the long-proposed HWQ411B sewer project. The letters stated that the city might need to use eminent domain to acquire some property in order to complete the work.

Civic Association President Howie Kamph said he was flooded with calls from concerned homeowners, and decided to invite DDC officials to the meeting to speak to them directly.
Rather than conduct the meeting in a traditional manner, DDC representatives set up seven different stations, and — according to their address — residents went to the proper table to find out what, if any, property the city might need to take.

“This was the best way to do it, this way the DDC can have a one-on-one conversation with every homeowner,” Kamph said. “It’s better than an open meeting with everyone screaming.”

Originally proposed 30 years ago, the HWQ411B plan calls for the replacement of several water mains and sanitary sewers in the area, along with the additions of new storm drains, which would help alleviate the community’s long-time flooding problem.

According to Narayana Venugopalan, an assistant commissioner with the DDC, about 150 properties in the neighborhood will be affected.

He said homeowners will lose no more than five to 10 feet of property, mostly curbs and sidewalks in front of their residences.

“It won’t be more than a sliver,” he said.

A public hearing on the $40 million project is scheduled for Nov. 30. Venugopalan said work on HWQ411B will begin either in late 2011 or the spring of 2012.

“We are finishing this project,” he said of the long-delayed plan.

Ozone Park resident Anna Quarto was one of many who received the eminent domain letter and came to the meeting with concerns.

Quarto said she found the session to be informative and was glad to discover that no one will be losing their house.

“I think people in general got scared when they read that their property might have to be acquired,” she said.

Her husband, Lenny, said he is glad the project appears to finally be moving forward.
“It will definitely make Ozone Park better,” he said.