City to fix seawall after 5-year wait

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After more than five years of planning and raising funds, the city Parks Department and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) say serious steps are being made to repair a 200-foot failed section of the Queens seawall in Long Island City.

“The Parks Department is working with Congresswoman Maloney to move the repair of the Queensbridge seawall forward,” the department said in a statement. “The agency continues to study elements of the repair and identify additional funding sources for this project.”

The crumbling part of the concrete seawall along the East River in Queensbridge Park, which the Parks Department has cordoned off with a fence to protect the safety of the residents in the nearby Queensbridge Houses, has long been a concern for elected officials.

Maloney, state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and former City Councilman Eric Gioia have all raised money to conduct a survey of the damage and to repair the seawall. In June 2010, Maloney, Nolan, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Borough President Helen Marshall and then-Sen. George Onorato also wrote a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanding action be taken.

Maloney said the state of the seawall was a concern not only because the dilapidated wall poses a danger to residents, but because water could seep through to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s cathodic protection devices, which keep the subway line below from becoming corroded.

“This needs to be a priority — not just for the residents of Queensbridge Houses and Long Island City who have a right to enjoy the waterfront, but for all the commuters whose ride could be affected,” Maloney said.

The tides changed last month when the Parks Department, which had previously said it could not do the project for lack of allocated funding, said at a Feb. 22 meeting it would take the lead on the project. To do this, the department will use mitigation funds from the city Department of Transportation. The DOT owes money to the Parks Department to restore part of the natural shoreline of the East River from when the agency worked along the other side of the river to repair the FDR Drive in Manhattan.

But the funds the DOT owes the Parks Department are not expected to cover the full cost of repair. Maloney said after the department clears the area near the seawall of the lead paint pieces fallen from the nearby Queensboro Bridge and uses the mitigation funds, more resources will need to be found.

“I look forward to working with the city to complete these long-overdue repairs as soon as possible,” Maloney said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 10:41 am, October 12, 2011
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