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Queens Chronicle

Residents: Eton St. needs flooding fixes

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Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2018 10:30 am

Phyllis Weiser has had it with the city.

When there’s heavy rainfall, the sidewalk in front of her home on Eton Street in Jamaica Estates looks like a pond.

For more than a decade, she’s been trying to get the powers-that-be to do something about it. Although elected officials reached out to the city on her behalf, none could get anyone to fix the problem.

Weiser’s street isn’t flat. And when it rains, water flows down from the slope of nearby Barrington Street toward the section of Eton Street that runs east of the two roads’ intersection. The water builds up on the sidewalks on the southern part of the affected strip of Eton, which is where her house is.

“The other side has nothing,” Weiser said. “We have it all because we’re at the foot of the hill.”

Not helping the problem is the fact that the curb in front of her house is at the level of the roadway.

Weiser said that ice can make the ponding situation dangerous. “I fear that somebody’s going to fall when it’s icy,” she said.

She’s not the only Eton Street resident to be irked by the situation. So is Michael Hannibal, who lives on Weiser’s side of the road, and has dealt with flooding problems too.

“It had been going back to since we moved in 2000,” he said.

As with Weiser’s home, the problem arose from the curb in front of his house not being higher than the street. Unlike her, he has suffered actual damage to his house from the flooding.

Ultimately, he paid to have his driveway reconstructed to stop the flooding. But when the de Blasio administration resurfaced the street as part of a citywide repaving and milling program in 2015, the work that Hannibal had done to his driveway was rendered useless.

For Weiser, too, the city’s repaving of the street wasn’t a win.

“It was terrible to begin with,” she said of the sidewalk flooding in front of her home. “[The resurfacing] enhanced it.”

Hannibal ended up suing the city over the situation and won a judgment of $7,334.03 in December.

Both he and Weiser say the city should install a catch basin at Barrington and Eton streets to catch the rainwater that rolls down the former road.

The Chronicle asked the Department of Environmental Protection if the agency had any plans to install a catch basin because of the sidewalk flooding on Eton. The agency acknowledged the question but did not provide an answer prior to deadline.

The Department of Transportation said it’s “aware of the community’s concerns” but does “not have any plans to make changes to the curb at this time.”

According to Hannibal, the sidewalk flooding has also been a problem for other homeowners on Eton east of Barrington — it’s just that they haven’t spoken up as much.

“Me and Mrs. Weiser are the only ones who actually complain about it,” he said. “And that’s the frustrating part.”

Hannibal’s plight with his home led Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) to introduce a bill that would require the city to raise the curb on a street after repaving it.

Although the legislation did not pass in the Council’s last legislative session, Lancman re-introduced the bill in February and is pushing to get it passed this year.

“Phyllis’s story highlights why the Council must pass my legislation to hold the City accountable for DOT’s mistakes,” Lancman said in a prepared statement. “It is not fair that homeowners like Phyllis are left to deal with the consequences resulting from altered curb heights. We must ensure that DOT maintains proper curb heights every time it does street work.”

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