The $10 million restoration of the ravine was to be the final stage of the $150 million Alley Creek Combined Sewer Abatement Facilities Project, a 10-year project to update and improve sewer service to communities near Springfield Boulevard, 46th Avenue, 56th Avenue and portions of Northern Boulevard and the Cross Island Expressway. The project, which began construction in 2002, also includes street work and a pump station upgrade.In a letter sent to DEP Commissioner Christopher Ward on July 6, Iannece detailed the board's unhappiness with the elimination of the restoration phase."Several months ago we were informed that the final stage of the project (the restoration of Oakland Ravine and creation of wetlands therein) has been taken out of the DEP 10-year budget," Iannece wrote."Much of this project has disrupted our communities and deprived us of use of many acres of parkland. We accepted this severe inconvenience because we were told that an integral part of this project ... was the mitigation that would manifest itself in the rehabilitation of Oakland Ravine and the creation of a passive (combined stormwater outflow) park facility therein; which in turn would benefit Oakland Lake," the letter continued."The removal of this aspect, in our view, is a violation of DEP's mitigation agreement and requirements herein," Iannece wrote.Padavan, after being approached by the board, sent a letter of support to Mayor Michael Bloomberg asking for the funds to be restored. "I feel that the work designed to strengthen Oakland Lake's natural habitat was a fair tradeoff for lost wetlands and the seemingly endless traffic problems that accompanied this project," Padavan wrote. "To take these promised improvements away from the community would be blatantly unfair."The letter prompted the mayor to ask the DEP to take another look at the issue, Padavan said in an interview. "We don't know all the details, but we're going to try to get the funds restored, and I think there's a good chance we will," he said.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at email@example.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2004 Community News Group
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