Towers dwellers cry foul at sewer project

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Residents of Bayside’s Lakeside Towers attended Community Board 11’s meeting Monday to express frustration over a massive sewer project their co-op president said was hurting the residents’ quality of life.

Board members also voted to recommend a zoning variance for a two-story retail and apartment complex development in a residential zone at 188-16 Northern Blvd. and approved the renaming of 211th Street between 39th and 41st avenues after firefighter Andrew Christopher Brunn. He was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Community Board 11 covers Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Hollis Hills, Oakland Gardens and part of Auburndale.

Don Black, president of the co-op board at the Lakeside Towers luxury high-rise complex, spoke out against the Alley Pond Drainage Improvement Project.

“Unfortunat­ely, this project ... is now starting to take its toll and impact people’s lives,” said Black. “We are suffering terribly because of it.”

Prep work has already begun in the vicinity of Queensborough Community College on the project to reconstruct the storm sewer system in a neighborhood long plagued by flooding and ponding. The initial phase of work is expected to take 18 months.

Black complained of noise, dust and dirt from the project, and the razing of a ballfield across from the complex for use as a staging area.

Even more troubling to residents, Black said, was the removal of trees that had created a sound and visual barrier between the towers and the Cross Island Parkway.

Black threatened to file a lawsuit this week unless neighbors’ needs were addressed at a meeting with Borough President Helen Marshall scheduled for Wednesday.

“We’re not going to live four years with the conditions we have now,” said Black.

Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece, an early champion of the drainage project, agreed that the removal of the trees was ill-timed and said engineers had stopped work pending a revised plan for saving other trees in the area.

“Whatever they touch, they’re committed to restoring,” said Iannece, who also planned to participate in the meeting with Marshall.

In other business, the board narrowly approved recommending a variance for a vacant property at 188-16 Northern Blvd. despite the property owner’s refusal to accept certain stipulations set by the board’s land use committee.

The board recommended that a variance be granted for four retail stores on the residentially zoned property several years ago, a project never realized by the previous owner.

The lot’s new owner said he wished to reduce the building’s size by 1,000 square and to add a storage cellar and a second story for two apartments.

The project’s engineer, H. Irving Sigman, said a Korean restaurant would likely occupy one of the retail spaces.

The board’s land use committee requested, among other things, that the stores close at 9 p.m. and that no liquor store be allowed in the complex.

The full board voted to recommend the variance even though the owner had not agreed to the stipulations.

At the end of the meeting, former Community Board 11 Chairman Bernard Haber requested the board vote to rename 211th Street between 39th and 41st avenues in honor of firefighter Andrew Christopher Brunn, who lived in Bayside.

Haber said Brunn, also a former police officer, had bought a house in Hicksville, L.I. with his wife just days before he was killed. The board voted to accept the renaming.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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