Pol, DEP at odds over a Flushing sinkhole 1

State Sen. Tony Avella says the sinkhole at 32nd Avenue and Union Street could collapse at any time and is dangerous to drivers, but the Department of Environmental Protection is not as worried about it.

An immediate danger to drivers is posed by a sinkhole at 32nd Avenue and Union Street in Flushing, state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) says. But the Department of Environmental Protection, under whose purview repairing it falls, is not remotely alarmed.

“This is a major intersection,” Avella told reporters. “One of these days, [the sinkhole] is going to entirely collapse.”

A bus route, he added, goes over the sinkhole, which is near a school and a library. And given the traffic that the intersection experiences, Avella wonders why the de Blasio administration doesn’t repair it: “What the heck does it take to finally get this fixed and get an answer from DEP?”

According to an agency spokesperson, a sewer at the Flushing intersection “is being inspected using a remotely operated television camera and once that work is complete any necessary repairs will be made.” He added that the agency is investigating what the nexus is between the sinkhole and the sewer.

The DEP also diverges with Avella on what to call the problem. “This is more of a roadway depression than a sinkhole,” the spokesperson said.

After seniors at the North Flushing Pool Club told Avella about the sinkhole last August, the senator wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation about it. The agency said that it fell under the DEP’s purview and provided a corrective order to the environmental agency, mandating that the situation immediately be resolved.

Avella says it has not. “I’ve been writing letter after letter to DEP,” he lamented. “No answer.”

Recently, the senator saw cones at the sinkhole when he was driving in the area. He stopped his car to check it out.

“I looked,” he said. And while he noticed that some asphalt work had been done, the lawmaker said the “condition” of the sinkhole has not substantively changed.

Ignored by the DEP, the senator sent a letter to Mayor de Blasio about his frustrations with the environmental agency. The senator urged him to “please start doing your job.”

Surpassing all other Queens Democrats in his public disdain for de Blasio, Avella recently suspended a Democratic primary bid to unseat him. He felt he could not compete with the mayor’s prodigious fundraising without putting his integrity at hazard.

“Unfortunately, it is no surprise that this administration is unable to address many of New York City’s significant issues, if it cannot even repair a sinkhole,” the senator wrote to de Blasio.

At the closest point, the 32nd Avenue and Union Street intersection is at half of a block outside of Avella’s district. Never known for his deference to other Democrats, Avella did not reach out to his colleague who represents the area, state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing).

“I wouldn’t waste my time,” said Avella, whom the Queens County Democratic machine disowned and tried to unseat after he joined state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, when the Chronicle asked if he had reached out to Stavisky.

Stavisky said her office had received no complaints about the sinkhole and dismissed her colleague’s remarks.

“Community issues should be taken very seriously and they should not become a political name-calling contest,” she added in an interview. “Therefore, I will not dignify his political baiting tactics.”

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