Comptroller lays out “steps forward” on Calamus Avenue
by Benjamin Fang
Aug 08, 2017 | 630 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After meeting with Calamus Avenue residents and touring property damage last month, Comptroller Scott Stringer has followed up on the project with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC).

In a letter dated August 3, Stringer said he met with DDC staff last week and had a “productive discussion” on the community’s concerns for the $25 million sewer project.

During the meetings, he said, DDC made commitments to “strengthening community relations and improving quality of life” for residents suffering from cracks on their property, sidewalk disrepair and bus stop disruptions.

“When residents in this community reported damage, I was alarmed,” Stringer said in a statement. “When they said their property had been destroyed, it was disturbing.

“Residents described being deeply concerned about the future of their homes,” he added. “All of it means that we need to continue demanding answers and community engagement from DDC.”

In the letter, Stringer said DDC committed to sending a letter to local residents detailing their repair work and the timeline for the project. More specifically, the letter will inform residents that DDC will repair roadway surfaces, curbs and sidewalks that were affected by construction.

DDC also committed to fixing damaged fences for residents “willing to give DDC access to their property to conduct this work.” The letter will be written in both English and Chinese, and the repairs will be completed by Thanksgiving “at no cost to residents,” Stringer said.

Secondly, to address the confusion about the process to seek compensation for property damage, DDC will send a copy of their procedural guide to local residents. The document will include contact information for the community construction liaison.

DDC will also inform residents that their water has been independently tested by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to ensure it is safe to drink, Stringer said. DDC will be asked to make past test results available and perform additional water testing upon request.

Finally, Stringer has asked DDC to look into hiring or transferring a Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking employee for the project to ensure Chinese-speaking residents are informed on project updates.

The sewer project, now in its third year, is expected to be completed by the end of the year. When finished, it will increase sewer capacity, manage stormwater and improve water quality for residents.

Community leaders requested the project to alleviate flooding and improve drainage after storms inundated the sewer system a decade ago.

A DDC spokesman said the agency is now reviewing the letter.

“There’s no question that the agency needs to communicate better with the community on this project, and it needs to work with, not against, neighborhood leaders,” Stringer said. “We’re going to keep pressing for results and accountability.”
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