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Queens Chronicle

CB 7 stops change to Waterpointe project

But DEC brownfield program track for waterfront development is modified

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Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:30 am

When the Department of Environmental Conservation notified Community Board 7 that single-family homes could not be built at the Waterpointe development on Whitestone’s waterfront, it didn’t go unnoticed.

The Edgestone Group, which is planning to build 52 single-family homes at the site, is participating in the DEC’s brownfield cleanup program. The agency had said on Sept. 20 that fill used to replace contaminated soil at the site was not of the quality required by the type of cleanup being pursued there, which is called Track 2 residential cleanup.

So, a DEC Fact Sheet went on, “it is appropriate that the remedy be modified to a ‘Track 4’ restricted residential cleanup.” Which, the agency continued, applies only to “multi-family residential housing with restrictions that prohibit housing without a common controlling entity responsible for maintaining the [institutional and engineering controls].”

Not exactly music to the ears of a community board that has been adamant about the Waterpointe development being single-family homes.

Edgestone’s original vision for the site had been 107 two-family homes, which many thought would saturate Whitestone and create quality-of-life issues. After protest from the community, the development was scaled back to the 52 single-family home plan.

CB 7 First Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian and board member Joe Sweeney were alarmed when they saw the message from DEC.

“We got this notice — Chuck saw it, I saw it and I said ‘This is impossible, because that’s not what we negotiated,’” Sweeney said at the board’s meeting on Monday. “We negotiated those 52 homes.”

He called the DEC. And ultimately, the agency agreed to allow the single-family house plan, though the restricted residential Track 4 will still be used.

Sweeney told the Chronicle that the DEC informed him the fill described in its fact sheet that resulted in the track change had been placed there by Edgestone.

A spokesperson for the environmental agency told the Chronicle that the fill had been placed “at the site between 2012 and 2014. The fill included asphalt in addition to concrete and brick fragments, iron piping, plastic piping, and other materials.”

An asphalt plant had previously been at the location of the development and closed in 1992. The DEC spokesperson added that the agency does not believe the asphalt is from the plant.

It is not clear if Edgestone is responsible for the fill containing asphalt.

In an interview after the board meeting, CB 7 Environmental Committee Chairman James Cervino expressed disappointment with the brownfield track change.

“The majority of developments in NYC have to meet residential use or unrestricted use criteria,” said Cervino, who has worked professionally on environmental cleanups, including the Waterpointe site at one point. Both of those criteria, he added, are cleaner.

The Environmental Committee chairman was also surprised the DEC would change the track after finding fill that didn’t meet the previous track’s objectives. In his experience, the agency sticks with an original track even if everything does not go perfectly.

Edgestone could not be reached for comment.

Another contaminated zone — Willets Point — was the subject of another part of CB 7’s meeting on Monday.

Two Iron Triangle business owners on Monday asked the board to make street repairs in the blighted industrial area a “high priority” item in its response to the city’s spending plan for the next fiscal year.

“Our roads are horrendous, horrible and dangerous,” A & D Used Auto Parts and Cars owner Samuel Sambucci said.

He added that when he walks over the bumpy and dilapidated roads, “I go from 6-foot-1 to 12-foot-2 to 8 feet tall, all in a matter of 5 feet.”

Sambucci thanked the board for asking for street repair in the past, and mentioned that he has had discussions with city officials that he thinks may bode well for upgrading the roads in the future.

“I believe we’re getting a step further. I’ve had some conversations with the EDC and the DOT and it looks pretty positive,” he added.

But, he said, it could still be years before the roads are repaired, so CB 7’s request was badly needed.

Steven Lin, who owns the Crown Container Transfer Station in Willets Point, spoke to the board after Sambucci. After the CB 7 meeting, Lin also discussed the challenges he faces as a business owner in the Iron Triangle.

“We don’t get a phone line, we don’t get internet or any infrastructure,” he said. “We’re paying the property tax, we’re not getting any infrastructure. It’s not fair.”

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1 comment:

  • Rafick Bdaro posted at 12:05 am on Fri, Sep 29, 2017.

    Rafick Bdaro Posts: 21

    Believe it or not, I am not opposed to development for single family lots in that area. The areas is pretty much covered in parks, schools and outdoorsy recreational areas. As long as the development is done with respect to the community guidelines, green efficiency and I am pretty sure outstanding views of the east river and the Whitestone & Throgs Neck bridges. Then all means, go for it!