Sewers are finally coming to Willets Point, though many business owners there will have little opportunity to use them as they will be the first construction work on the city’s $3 billion redevelopment plan for the neglected area.
The denizens of the 62-acre Iron Triangle have worked there for decades without sewer service, sidewalks, reliable streetlights or other basic city services, but now the city is looking to begin work on two sewer projects to make way for its development plans.
Hunter Roberts Construction Group, the city’s construction manager for off-site Willets Point infrastructure work, issued a request for proposals March 9 calling for qualified builders to bid on the reconstruction of a storm sewer and outfall located within 126th Street and the construction of a sanitary sewer main. The work is expected to cost about $20 million to complete.
“When this work is completed, Willets Point will finally have the infrastructure it needs to prevent further environmental contamination and allow new development to take place. These badly needed infrastructure improvements are a key part of the project that was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council and taken on at the behest of central Queens residents,” city Economic Development Corp. President Seth Pinsky said in a statement. “In addition to improving the neighborhood’s basic infrastructure, remediating decades of environmental damage and creating a new sustainable development, this project will generate thousands of new, quality jobs.”
The storm sewer will convey stormwater north toward Flushing Bay, and the sanitary sewer main will convey wastewater from Willets Point to an existing pump station near the intersection of 114th Street and 37th Avenue. The city expects each project to cost at least $10 million and to be complete within two years.
Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) conveyed the feelings of many Willets Point property owners regarding infrastructure improvements during the city’s eminent domain hearing March 2. He said the city should have built sewers and made other improvements while the taxpaying businesses were not facing eminent domain and that it is unfair to only do so now that a massive development is on the horizon there.
“You can’t go to businesses and refuse to put sewer lines in. You can’t go to businesses and refuse to pave their roads. You can’t go to businesses and refuse to send snowplows down their roads and then tell them [Willets Point] is underutilized and underdeveloped,” he said.
EDC spokeswoman Julie Wood said Tuesday she did not believe the city had received any proposals yet by that point.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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