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City to remove two unused water towers in Jamaica Estates

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A pair of decrepit water towers in Queens have been eyesores for the community for more than 10 years, but within a month residents will not have to put up with them anymore.

The city Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday it will be demolishing the 80-year-old tanks starting this weekend´╗┐. The towers, which have not been in use since the city purchased the containers in 1996 from the Jamaica Water Supply Co., have shown their age with peeling paint, rusting exteriors and graffiti.

DEP Commissioner Cas Halloway said community members have been asking the city to remove the tanks for years because they stuck out like sore thumbs within the neighborhood of single-family homes.

“They were blemishes, they were unused and provided zero benefit to the local area,” he said. “That’s all going to change in about 30 days.”

The tank at 93-02 199th St. in Hollis will be the first water tower to come down. Starting Saturday, the 145-foot container will be demolished by crews who will use cranes and special tools to cut the tower down piece by piece, according to Halloway.

The metal will be recycled for scrap, the commissioner said.

The same process will take place at the second tank, which stands 100 feet tall at 84-02 164th St. in Jamaica Estates, starting in the first week of April. The demolition projects, which cost about half a million dollars, will be completed by the end of April, according to Halloway.

“This is a great day for Hollis and Jamaica Estates,” he said.

Several elected officials, including state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose), state Assemblymen Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and William Scarborough (D-St. Albans) and City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) were on hand for the announcement that took place at the 164th Street tower and applauded the DEP for finally taking action´╗┐ to remove the tanks.

Although he said the towers were eyesores, Lancman joked that their removal was bittersweet because he and his friends and family would use it as a point of reference for directions.

“It was always one of those landmarks in the community that identifies or signifies a neighborhood, but now over the years it has become an identification, but not in a positive way,” the assemblyman said.

Although the city purchased the pumps and tanks from the Jamaica Water Supply company, it has not used the water from the underground basin because it was polluted. As a result, the water table under most of southeast Queens remains high and has caused severe flooding during torrential rains.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Updated 5:53 pm, October 10, 2011
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