The Stink At Flushing
The Slow Flow Of Studies,
Money And Answers
Flushing the finger forty years ago and a heated Borough Board was still hurt, angry and
demanding action this week.
A 40 million
gallon sewage retention tank will stop raw sewage from entering Flushing Bay. It should be
finished by 2004. Tribune Photo By
just cant believe what Im hearing . . .This is an outrage, Borough
President Claire Shulman told the board members as she listened to an update from the Army
Corps of Engineers about their progress on a three year study to determine what needs to
be done with Flushing Bay and the breakwater, or finger, that stops its
natural circulation of water.
to be a better way to do this, she insisted and her words were exclamated by an
animated Councilwoman Helen Marshall, who insisted that the bay is filling in more each
day because of the finger and pretty soon youll be able to walk across the
But even as the
elected officials began to yell with their frustration and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz
blurted out thats absurd!, Army Corp of Engineer Civil Engineer Peter
Blum maintained his study is on schedule, he is looking for community input, and it would
take an act of Congress to remove the finger until after his study is done.
When Flushing Got
was called a finger and a dike at this weeks heated Borough
Board meeting, but Army Corps of Engineer Civil Engineer Peter Blum explained that the
structure in question is a breakwater built about the same time of the 1964-65
Worlds Fair to protect boats in the marina from the crashing of the tide. Its
purpose was to create a safe harbor.
dike shown in this map is stopping Flushing Bays natural circulation of
water, resulting in a lack of tidal flow.
Map provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Marshall maintains that according to her research, the Corps only wanted to build a 1400
foot dike, but City Planner Robert Moses had the finger extended to touch land
at LaGuardia Airport.
However as it
creates a safe harbor, water flows with more force toward the shore than it
does back over the dike, and so it drops silt, dirt and whatever else it is carrying on
one side . . . effectively increasing the size of the dike over time.
drive a truck out there at one time, only the Port Authority would stop you and send you
back saying you were on airport property, Marshall said.
The result over
time has been a lack of tidal flow in Flushing Bay. We need a nice flushing Bay . .
. the verb, I mean, Marshall said.
The lack of
water circulation becomes a greater problem with the additional lack of a sewerage
retention tank. During a weather event which generally is taken to mean
a heavy rain there is nowhere to store the extra rain water and sewage and so they
are released together, without treatment, into Flushing Bay.
The end result,
as silt builds up in the bay because the tidal action is not strong and the breakwater
acts as a filter, is at times a low tide with stranded sewage.
Adding to the
controversy, according to Marshall, is the issue of how much of the finger remains in
tact. When the Port Authority expanded its runway 13 overrun for safety purposes, they got
a permit from the Corps to remove the dike down to 3.2 feet above mean water
day, I still cant get anyone to tell me why they had to bring it to 3.2 feet above
mean water level, Marshall lamented, but explained that the result was the dike is
visible at low tide and hidden at high tide. Following Mondays Borough Board
meeting, Marshall and Shulman expressed hope that a confusion of permits at the time when
the Port Authority did this work could allow the Corps to go around their current
feasibility study and jump right to the removal of the dike.
maintained that although she does not have a completed environmental impact study to prove
it, she does have a new and modern method of breaking the water to make the harbor boat
safe already in place and removing the dike completely can only help the problem.
office pointed out that Navigation, as well as environmental problems, besiege the
bay. The authorized level of depth for the Federal Channel at Flushing Bay and Creek is 15
feet, but in many locations it is far shallower. The Army Corp project will fully re-open
the channel and allow increased commerce and jobs in the area."
explained that the mandate of the Army Corps of Engineers has been expanded and refined so
that they now look at environmental restoration wherever they are requested to
study . . . not just were the federal government has had some hand in the problem.
He explained to
the Tribune that the Corps is currently in the middle of its three year cost-shared feasibility study expected
to be completed by the Fall of 2002. The study is actually a joint project between the
Corps, the Port Authority, which has brought money to the project, and the City of New
York, which has put its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) engineering expertise
into the mix. Blum added that the city DEP is scheduled to have their model study for the
area completed this summer.
So far, the
Corps work has identified the following opportunities present in the Bay and
creek area: Tidal wetland restoration, freshwater wetland restoration, hydrologic
modifications dredging, dike removal partial or total, reorientation of
Federal navigation channel, bank stabilization and debris removal.
that the current study includes more than just the bay. The Corps is doing reconnaissance
and evaluation for an area that includes Flushing Creek, Willow and Meadow Lakes, and
But what course
of action needs to be taken to help the environment and the complaints about Flushing Bay
will only be decided and the permit process put into place when the current study has
evaluated all the possibilities and proposed its best solution for the ecosystem and the
The Corps has
also been approached by the New York City Economic Development Corp. about possible
cost-sharing partnerships in the future at other city sites.
the past two years, Crowley has secured a little over two million dollars in
hand to the Army Corps of Engineers which has provided the money to make the study
of the bay, the creek, and the lakes possible.
Crowleys request for an additional $4.4 million to complete the study and dredge
150,000 yards of bay material passed the House of Representatives in June and is now
awaiting review by the Senate. Crowley got the funding included in the Fiscal Year 2002
Energy and Water Appropriations bill, and included a million dollars more than President
George Bushs budget request had allowed. He hopes to see dredging in the Bay
late in 2001, according to his statement announcing the progress.
described the progress in Congress as great news for residents of Queens and the
Bronx, especially those living near Flushing Bay and Creek . . . A cleaner Flushing Bay
and Creek will lead to the future economic development and jobs, and a better quality of
life in our waterfront communities.
My goal is
the total clean-up of Flushing Bay, Crowley pledged.
In response to
Shulmans challenge at the board meeting that monthly update meetings on Flushing Bay
were essential for the project to move forward, Crowleys office is scheduling its
first such meeting for Sept. 4 at the Congressmans Jackson Heights office.
Crowleys Legislative Director Kevin Casey, that in long-agonized situations like
Flushing Bay you never reach a conclusion unless you demand movement from month to
month and she recommended that the regular checkups include someone from Borough
Hall, someone from the City Council, the Port Authority, the DEP, the Department of
Environmental Conservation (DEC) and a representative of Wildlife & Fishery.
January of 1989, the Queens Tribune reported on a Borough Board meeting that echoed
some of the issues addressed this week.
about Flushing Bay stinks and some civic leaders say it is not just the odors that
notoriously emanate from the waterway, the story by David Oats read. It went on to
say that although the Borough Board approved of an environmental impact study
for the creation of a 40 million
gallon sewer tank to stop raw sewage from overflowing into the bay in the rain, some
civic leaders were still concerned about the impact of the project on the neighborhood.
The update at
this weeks Borough Board meeting from the DEP was that the 43 million gallon
facility, which includes 15 million gallons of in-line storage in the way of
retro-fitted sewers and 28 million gallons off-line storage, is scheduled for
completion in November of 2004. The facility will have three new, permanent ball fields
and a parks facility on top of it and the only place where air will escape from the
storage tanks will have a state-of-the-art filter system, even though the DEP told the
Borough Board that in their studies, an air filter system has never been needed at these
kinds of facilities.
Guardian Angel Group:
Helping Kids With Cancer
Manning was nine years old when she first joined other young cancer patients at a holiday
party sponsored by Tony Mazzarella, proprietor of the Waterfront Crabhouse in Long Island
City, and a group of concerned volunteers.
Patricia Manning lost her battle with cancer in 1986.
was an immediate favorite at the parties a bubbly, happy child with a sense of
understanding far beyond her years.
failed to show up at the 1986 party, the volunteers and others at the Crabhouse hoped that
treatments for her illness kept her away. Those hopes were crushed when, late into the
party, Pattis father and sister walked into the room.
Patti, then 11
years old, had lost her long battle with the disease. But before she passed away, the
young girl wrote a letter to Mazzarella and his volunteers a letter she asked her
family to read at the party.
In her letter,
Patti thanked everyone involved for their efforts, year after year, to improve the quality
of life of young cancer patients. She thanked the volunteers and the staff at the
Crabhouse for the love and happiness they brought to her and the other
parties are among the ways that the Patti Fund raises money to help children battling
early 1987, Mazzarella mustered his troops and created the Patricia Manning
Memorial Fund in Pattis name. Their mission was clear to raise as much money
as possible for direct support to the families of kids with cancer. The group attached
itself to the American Cancer Society for guidance and patients information, then
set off to achieve its goals through a series of annual fundraisers.
inception, the group now dubbed the Patti Fund, Inc., has distributed a
half-million dollars to patients, families, hospitals and childrens organizations in
the New York metropolitan area.
The Patti Fund
is operated by a staff of dedicated volunteers who meet at least once each week to
determine which youngsters have the greatest immediate need. Funds collected by the group
do not pay for salaries, overhead, or any of the normal override expenses
incurred by such organizations. The only expenses paid for by the fund are postage,
advertising and food or services needed at the fundraisers that are not donated.
visits the Crabhouse party each year.
every cent collected for the children goes directly to the children and their families to
override medicine, travel expenses (trips for treatment), special food, prosthetics, wigs,
home medical and home care products, and other items required for the care of the kids.
special grants to pediatric oncology centers for equipment and supplies which are not
covered in the organizations annual operating budget.
in-kind donations, including television for childrens hospital rooms and treatment
areas, VCRs, video libraries and games.
artists to transform bleak treatment areas. Daybeds that double as reclining chairs are
donated to hospitals so parents may retain some level of comfort when they remain at their
childs bedside at all hours of the day and night, Mazzarella said.
patients receive chemotherapy treatments, hair loss is quite common.
Mazzarella (right) makes it look easy but since 1987 he has been dedicated to raising
funds to support the families of young cancer patients.
Patti Fund, Inc. designs and distributes a wide selection of hats that encompass the
latest styles of sports, animation and childrens interests. The hats are provided to
hospital staff at no cost, and we fill special orders for children whenever
requested, he said.
Fund, Inc. sponsors annual amateur boxing fund raising events in concert with the United
States Amateur Boxing Association.
events include our famous Jail and Bail fundraiser, Annual Golf Classic, 50s
Dance, Halloween Costume Ball and Italian Night, Mazzarella said. Our July 4
Block Party is our calling card for fun and entertainment.
information about the Patti Fund is available on the groups website at www.pattifund.org.
from all over New York come to this event, which coincides with Macys spectacular
fireworks display. Attendance has swelled to over 7,000 each year as more people are eager
to help children with cancer and secure a prime waterfront view for the show.
The July 4 bash
is simulcast over FM radio stations, from its opening time until til the last
firecracker fizzles over the East River. The most recent July 4 was a success,
according to organizers.
the Patti Fund donated $2,000 to the Yale Pediatrics Cancer Center for training of
teachers on dealing with children with cancer who returned to school, $4,000 for the
Annual Holiday/Christmas Party at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital for 200 youngsters with
their siblings, and $10,000 to the Bone Marrow Foundation for the screening and testing of
children requiring bone marrow transplants.
information on the fund, contact the groups web site at Pattifund.org, call 729-4862,
or write to the Patti Fund at 2-03 Borden Ave., Long Island City, NY 11101.
The Patti Fund,
Inc./Care for Childhood Cancer is a not-for-profit organization.