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Maspeth wants waterfront park at Newtown

Most of the 22 green projects proposed as mitigation for the city’s refusal to revamp the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant are located in Kings County, but nearly 700 residents of Queens and Brooklyn threw their support behind projects in Long Island City and Maspeth.

David Rivel, the City Parks Foundation’s executive director, said these projects will potentially be the fruits of a $7 million sum given to Rivel’s independent nonprofit in a settlement between the city and the state.

The city Department of Environmental Conservation’s website said this sum was part of a larger $10 million agreement. The city agreed in November 2008 to fund environmental projects around the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn in lieu of paying fines for deadlines missed in upgrading the plant.

“They wanted to make it up to the community for all the years that the plant hadn’t been updated,” Rivel said.

The city Department of Environmental Protection’s website said the upgrade will be complete in 2013.

Rivel said that as part of the process of choosing what to use the funds for, the City Parks Foundation asked residents to vote on numerous projects near the plant designed to benefit the community. The favorite was “Dutch Kills Basin Acquisition and/or 29th Street Improvements.” This project, estimated to cost $3 million, involves purchasing a private parcel to expand waterfront access and/or create stormwater management and community facilities, including a multi-use park with an athletic field.

The voting took place Dec. 1-2 at various locations throughout the boroughs, and the count was tabulated this week, Rivel said. Voters were asked to rank five projects of their choosing, and each project they chose was awarded a point in reverse order of their ranking.

“Now the Department of Environmental Conservation has a sense which projects received a lot of community support,” Rivel said.

Rivel said the projects with the highest number of votes would not necessarily be the ones which the DEC would consider when choosing which one to do. Additional factors that would be considered include the project’s distance from the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, the project’s cost, the project’s feasibility, community comments at public meetings with the DEC and others.

The Dutch Kills project earned 1,349 points from voters. Of those points, 720 came from the 166 high school students who voted. The Dutch Kills project was the most popular among the youth.

Another project that earned many points was to purchase the former site of St. Saviour’s Church at 57-40 58th St. in Maspeth and convert it into a park, a project estimated to cost $8.5 million. The project was the second-favorite among the adults, who contributed 728 of the 799 points the project earned. The land is currently owned by Maspeth Development LLC, which donated the church building to the Juniper Park Civic Association and allowed the group to dismantle and remove the 163-year-old church from the site.

The most popular project among the adults was a $5 million project to revamp and create an environmental education center at the GMDC building in Greenpoint.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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