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Plan kicked to the curb - City postpones repairs for several North Brooklyn streets

The streets of Williamsburg and Greenpoint are riddled with potholes, concrete divots and uneven roadways, but the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) won’t do any street repairs in the district until June 2010.

Last year, the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) included a list of 19 street locations in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and East Williamsburg arising from the complaints of residents in the community that were referred to the DEP. The sites consist of several depressed roadways, sidewalks and curb work that residents believe are in need of repair.

According to the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the street repairs would be handled under a contract for trench restoration, which was currently in design and scheduled to start in the fall of 2009. The DEP has since postponed the project an additional year citing a lack of funding.

“It is in DEP’s plans to do all the repairs for this specific area, but due to funding constraints the project was moved to Fiscal Year 2011,” said DEP spokesman Angel Roman.

Community Board 1 District Manager Gerald Esposito learned from DDC staff that the contract was rolled over to the 2011 Fiscal Year, after the Bloomberg administration is scheduled to leave office. Calls to DEP spokespeople were not returned by the time this article went to press.

Streets that are listed on the DEP’s trench restoration project include a large section of Scholes Street between Bushwick Avenue stretching to Lorimer Street, Waterbury Street between Ten Eyck and Stagg, Olive Street between Grrand and Powers as well as Powers Street between Catherine and Olive, and several streets closer to the waterfront including North 10th Street between Berry and Bedford and Hedford Avenue between South 2nd and South 3rd Street.

“There are still more streets that we have brought to the Department of Environmental Protection’s attention that need to be addressed, too, and Community Board 1 will continue to press for restoration of all these locations,” said Esposito.

Esposito was especially concerned about the construction of sewers on several streets throughout the neighborhood, which he brought to the DEP’s attention earlier this year. Esposito stated that several former construction sites throughout Williamsburg are in need of significant repairs because streets surrounding the blocks were dug up for sewer pipe work and the trenches that resulted were lined with wooden planks.

“These planks were never removed because they were allowed to be buried as fill,” Esposito said. “The wood has rotted away and entire streets have sunken in. Basic elementary science teaches us that wood placed underground rots.”

Filling potholes may be a clichéd meat and potatoes representation of elected officials serving the needs of the community, depression in the pavement can cost thousands of dollars of damage to vehicular traffic, not to mention lead to injuries among cyclists and pedestrians.

Staff members from Councilmembers Diana Reyna and David Yassky’s offices said that they were both aware of the problems and would continue to press the DEP to make the necessary street restorations throughout the district. Evan Thies, a candidate for the 33rd Council District and chair of Community Board 1’s Environmental and Sanitation Committee, called the DEP’s decision “disgraceful” and chastised the city for breaking promises to the community.

“These projects were supposed to be underway this year and we are one budget away from not getting anything from this administration,” Thies said. “Now they’re saying the money can be used for other purposes. They should spend money that has been set aside already for these projects now and not on newer projects with our money.”

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