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Residents in dark over Kew Gardens sewer upgrade

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Kew Gardens residents are welcoming a two-year sewer improvement project slated to begin at the end of September, although officials said they were disappointed the city only recently notified them of the upcoming construction and said they had a bevy of questions they want addressed.

Representatives from the city Department of Environmental Protection, which will oversee the project, Community Board 9 members and area residents will discuss the installation of catch basins and water mains throughout much of Kew Gardens at a meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at Borough Hall.

“Our concerns were the lack of notification from the DEP,” said CB 9 Chairwoman Mary Ann Carey. “We have a whole list of questions we want answered — where the detours will be, what type of detours, street closures, the location of the construction office, how many streets will be under construction at a time. We’ve sent it to DEP so when they come to the meeting, they’ll be prepared.”

DEP officials did not return a request for comment.

The city launched preliminary work June 28 for the project that Carey said will cover the area from 116th to 127th streets and from 84th Avenue to Kew Gardens Road. It is the largest sewer project Kew Gardens has seen in decades, community residents said.

“They’re going to tear up the streets in much of Kew Gardens for the project,” said Murray Berger, president of the Kew Gardens Civic Association.

Carey said the city has long neglected Kew Gardens in terms of funding sewer projects. This construction is not expected to deal with flooding, but it will make the water pressure greater — something Carey said residents have complained about over the years.

“This is needed,” Carey said. “The water pressure is low, and I’ve had complaints about it. The water mains they’re installing are larger so water will flow more easily. We’ve been devoid of any work for years and years in this area, so we should be happy we’re getting construction work.”

During the upcoming meeting, Carey said she hopes the city will address why certain sections of Kew Gardens were omitted from the plan, including a section of 82nd Road, Onslow Place, 81st Avenue and 80th Road.

“We don’t know why they left out certain areas, and we hope to get that answered,” Carey said.

There are several other sewer projects planned for the area CB 9 covers, including the installation of water mains along 87th Street on Woodhaven and Jamaica avenues.

“Some of these mains are 70, 80 years old, and you never know what’s down there, rust or whatever,” Carey said. “This will deliver purer and cleaner water that flows more easily.”

Another water main project is slated for Richmond Hill on 110th, 111th and 112th streets between 93rd Avenue and Park Lane South, as well as another water main project on Hillside Avenue.

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

Updated 6:10 pm, October 10, 2011
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