Community Board 7 wants city work that starts in its area to finish there and voted unanimously Monday night to have the city carry out an environmental mitigation project at College Point’s MacNeil Park.
At its monthly meeting at the Union Plaza Care Center, James Cervino, CB 7’s environmental chairman, explained a Department of Environmental Protection plan to construct stormwater collection sewers and improve paving near the Whitestone Expressway and College Point Boulevard.
Cervino, a marine biologist and founder of the Coastal Preservation Network in College Point, is all for the DEP work, which he said would control water pollution and stormwater runoff from entering the Flushing Creek and tidal wetlands.
But what he objects to is the agency’s decision to use mitigation funds from the project at the wetlands along Udalls Cove in Douglaston. DEP officials concluded that “... the potential for great ecological benefits can be enhanced by a more robust cumulative wetland restoration for a nearby site at Udalls Cove.”
Cervino told board members that MacNeil Park is in desperate need of vegetative buffers, slope erosion control and repairs to its seawall. “If you observe where the construction activities are taking place in College Point and Whitestone, specifically where capital construction is going to take place, and compare it to the distance from the construction sites to Udalls Cove, one can see that the closest ecologically significant wetlands to the outfall project are in College Point,” he said.
CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty said he was furious when he heard where the mitigation work would be carried out. “We want it attached to a Parks Department project because the seawall is a problem,” Kelty said. “It’s not an emergency over at Udalls Cove.”
Udalls Cove is a 30-acre natural area protected by the state that officially opened in 1989. It is considered a passive recreation park.
Kelty is hoping the DEP will change its mind. “We’re making noise now because we’re entitled to the work,” he said.
The Parks Department has indicated support for fixing the seawall, but no money has been allocated. Last fall, Parks erected barriers so people won’t injure themselves on the walkway near the seawall.