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Queens Chronicle

Bowne Park flood concerns residents

Heavy downfall last week blamed; aeration system temporarily off

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Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:41 am, Thu May 15, 2014.

Heavy rains are being blamed for Bowne Park Lake overflowing its banks last week, but parkgoers will continue to monitor the situation due to previous problems with drainage there.

Parks Department spokesman Zachary Feder told the Chronicle on Tuesday that the unusually heavy rains clogged the pond’s drainage system, causing the flooding. Feder noted that his agency regularly cleans out the lines and also skims leaves off the surface to prevent clogging.

“Our plumbers have been working to clear them, and today the lines are being pumped out by a sewer truck,” he said Tuesday. “With this work going on, the lake’s aerator pumps were temporarily turned off, which is why the pump tubing is floating. It will re-submerge once the pumps are turned back on.”

The situation was brought to the attention of the Chronicle by Sharon Wohlgemuth, a regular parkgoer who lives near Bowne. She was concerned about the flooding as well as the possibility of algae forming again as it did two years ago.

During the summer of 2012, Wohlgemuth noticed potentially toxic red tide algae in the pond. She contacted Parks and the Chronicle.

The water’s two fountains were not working and the smelly, stagnant water was getting worse. Ducks and geese left.

The city fixed the aeration system and flushed the system with cool water. Once the repairs were made, the two fountains were turned on and the algae disappeared.

With those past concerns in mind, Wohlgemuth feared the worse last week. Now, she is hopeful the situation will be rectified before the weather gets hot. “Then we worry about algae forming again,” she said. “They still have not cleaned out the bottom of the pond, because that’s where the decay comes from.”

Wohlgemuth said she visited the park Tuesday and there were wood chips all over the path where the water flooded with a park worker trying to get them up with a stick. “It’s still a mess and I told him to use a broom, that he’d never get it up that way but he looked at me like I was crazy,” she added.

Wanda Beck-Antosh, former president of the Bowne Park Civic Association, said the last time the lake flooded was about 16 years ago, “but this was A number 1,” she said.

Last winter, a pipe burst in the Parks Department maintenance building, flooding the basement. While repairs were made and a new furnace installed, no staff member could be stationed there, which may have affected refuse pickup in the park.

But Beck-Antosh said the park is not kept up as it should be, though she didn’t blame it all on Parks. “More people are using it and they are careless,” she said. “People need to be taught not to litter, that the park is a place to be proud of.”

Beck-Antosh added that the community is not as involved as it used to be either. “The neighbors don’t do anything. In the past, they would pick up litter and bottles, but not anymore,” she said.

The nearly 12-acre park is bordered by 29th and 32nd avenues and 155th and 159th streets. It was named after Walter Bowne, the city’s 59th mayor, who served from 1828 to 1832. His summer house was on the site.

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