Neighbors in Maspeth met with Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley last week to express their frustration over what they called “aggressive” construction that has caused shifting ground, cracks in walls, and other property damage.
“Residents are fed up,” said Nan Chen, who lives at 72nd Street and Calamus Avenue. “Nothing is being done about it. I don’t know how they can move forward with this project.”
The $25 million project, which has gone on for three years, will increase sewer capacity, better manage stormwater and improve water quality. Community leaders requested the project to alleviate flooding and improve drainage after heavy storms inundated the sewer systems in 2007.
Though the project hit a major snag last year, officials announced in March that the expedited project is expected to be finished by December 28.
This isn’t the first time residents have sounded off about the project. In February, Crowley hosted a town hall where irate neighbors lashed out at city officials for ongoing issues such as bus rerouting, potholes and other delays.
Chen and his fellow neighbors said the contractors are “not being careful” with their work. He showed Crowley the many cracks found inside and outside of Calamus Avenue homes.
“They’re too aggressive with their work,” he said. “Our property is shaking every morning. It’s too close to our homes.”
“You can tell the sidewalks are shifting,” added Fanny Fang. “The steps are falling apart.”
Lima Dominguez, whose house sits at the corner of 72nd Street, said her house’s front gate won’t close because the ground below her property has shifted. Her family has lived in the house for only five years.
“In the morning, it feels like an earthquake,” Dominguez said. “They’re destroying the house.”
She estimated that the fixes would cost upward of $17,000, and she wants the contractors to pay for it.
Crowley advised neighbors that they should take photos of and document property damage and fill out forms with the comptroller’s office.
“The homeowners need to be reimbursed for whatever damage occurs on their property,” she said. “We have to take this property by property and make sure a building inspector or engineer that is non-biased evaluates the damage.”
Crowley said she wants to ensure the project has as “minimal impact” as possible, and that nobody is in physical danger.
“But when you’re putting in huge sewers in a narrow street that is highly dense, we’re seeing right now the effects of that,” she said. “We want to make sure the company is being as cautious and considerate as possible.”
Despite many complaints from neighbors, Crowley said the project will move forward as planned.
“It’s unbelievably frustrating for homeowners because they have to deal with this everyday,” she said. “Their livelihood, their life’s investments, their property, is also getting damaged. We cannot let that happen.”
A spokesman from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), said the agency has worked closely with Crowley, local businesses and the community to mitigate disruptions. The contractor, C.A.C. Industries, has worked 10-hour days, including Saturdays, to expedite the project.
The spokesman added that DDC has made many accommodations for the community, including repaving sidewalk not initially part of the project and a redesign to accommodate a manufacturing business nearby.
DDC will meet with civic leaders next month, the spokesman said.