Some residents of the Centreville section of Ozone Park are feeling a bit uneasy about a letter sent out last week by the city Department of Design and Construction regarding the long-proposed HWQ411B sewer project.
The DDC sent out letters this week to many residences near the proposed project area, stating that the city might need to use eminent domain to acquire some property in order to complete the work.
The letter does not state how much property the city would need to seize, or even if it will definitely need to enter eminent domain proceedings, only that it is a possibility.
However, the warning has gotten many of those who received the letter worried enough that the Ozone Park Civic Association has arranged for a representative from the DDC to speak at its next meeting on Tuesday to provide more details.
An inquiry to the DDC about the letter was not returned as of press time.
The HWQ411B project has long been a point of consternation in the neighborhood.
Originally proposed 30 years ago, the plan calls for the replacement of several water mains and sanitary sewers in the area, along with the additions of new storm drains, which would help alleviate the community’s long-time flooding problem.
The DDC has said that the project is funded for Fiscal Year 2011, and that the project could begin as soon as early next year, though no definitive timeline has been given.
However, many in the area are skeptical the project will ever take place, as countless public hearings and meetings have been held on its status in the interceding years since it was first proposed.
According to civic association President Howie Kamph, the city previously said it may only need to enter into eminent domain proceedings on a handful of properties to complete the project, but the letter was sent to at least 100 residents, which is why so much confusion arose.
“People are getting worried and panicking because they’re not sure if any property is going to be taken from them,” Kamph said.
The civic president said he wanted to arrange the meeting with a DDC representative because the only public hearing by the agency on the project is set for 10 a.m. Nov. 30, a Tuesday, a time many residents might not be able to get out of work to attend.
“We wanted to give them a chance to be able to hear directly from the DDC,” Kamph said.
Mitch Udowitch, the chairman of the civic association’s HWQ411B committee, said his interpretation of the letter is that if the city does need to use eminent domain, it will not be for large pieces of property.
“The way I read it, no one is going to lose their home,” he said. “Some areas might have to lose a sidewalk or a curb, but I don’t think it will be more than that.”
Like Kamph, Udowitch said he was surprised not that the DDC sent out the letters, but that they were mailed to so many people.
“We thought it would maybe be five or six properties they would look at,” he said.
He said the civic reached out to the DDC to clarify what extent they might need to use eminent domain because the letter was so vague.
“It might just be a procedural thing, we don’t know,” he said, speculating that houses on Bristol Avenue might be the most affected if the city needs to acquire property.
Ozone Park resident Charlie Gisondi, also the vice president of the civic association, said he hopes the DDC provides answers at the meeting Tuesday.
“People really just want to know what is going on,” he said.