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Jamaica Hill worried about tower removal

Residents aired concerns at a public hearing last week that the upcoming demolition of a water tower in Jamaica Hill would be too noisy in the early morning hours and the remaining space would not be used to benefit the community.

City officials and the demolition contractor said they would make sure construction would not disturb area residents when the 250,000-gallon tank, which has not been used since 1996, at 84-02 164 St. is removed.

The city Department of Environmental Protection announced last month it would demolish the Jamaica Hill tank and a tank in Hollis, a relief for the storage units’ neighbors who have long complained of the tanks’ peeling paint and the teenagers who would often climb the towers.

DEP architect Vilhelmina Guthrie said the removal should happen sometime in May.

“The concern I have is what you’re going to be doing in the middle of the night,” Community Board 8 member Kevin Forrestal said at the April 7 public hearing at the Margaret Tietz Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica.

About 15 people attended the hearing, at which city officials and representatives from Terrasan Environmental Solution Inc., the company awarded the demolition contract by the DEP, said they would work to keep noise levels to a minimum during the removal that is expected to last from a Friday night to Sunday morning.

“There will be no banging, nothing,” said Eric Mensah, of Terrasan Environmental Solution.

Jamaica Hill residents Sam Rodriguez and Deborah Ayala said they hope to see the space that now houses the tank to become a spot to beautify the neighborhood.

“I don’t want them to develop something stupid there, like the city will often do,” Rodriguez said. “I’d like to see something for the community. We don’t want anything more that will cause more traffic or disturb the neighborhood.”

Ayala suggested the area could become a park.

DEP official Andrew Kuchynsky said the area will remain designated as a water supply facility, where another structure could be built if needed. The water for the previous tank was connected to the city’s portable water distribution system and was brought in from pumps in surrounding buildings, a DEP spokeswoman said.

“If there was a water supply emergency, we could activate it again,” Kuchynsky said.

State Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) said he was pleased the city would get rid of the tower that had long been an eyesore in the area.

“This taking down of the tank is something the community has wanted for a long time,” Lancman said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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