New York City has over 7,000 miles of sewer, and it’s the job of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to maintain and operate this massive sewer system.
All that wastewater goes through a pumping station – there are 96 in the city – which is then delivered to one of 14 wastewater resource recovery facilities in the city. For residents of Community Board 18 (CB 18), the nearest pumping station is the Paerdegat Pump Station located at Ralph and Flatlands Avenues. Typically, the equipment at one of these facilities lasts about 30 years, and the Paerdegat Pump Station is ready for an upgrade.
At the May 17th meeting of CB 18, a representative from the DEP’s BEDC (Bureau of Engineering Design and Construction) Unit gave a presentation on the project, which is estimated to cost $37 million.
The Paerdegat Pump Station, which serves 2,000 acres in Canarsie, was built in the 1930s and was last upgraded in 1995, so it’s approaching the 30-year mark.
When you “flush” or take a shower, wastewater drains into a pumping station, and the Paerdegat Station can pump a maximum of 57 million gallons a day, which is then delivered to the Coney Island Wastewater Resource Recovery facility on Knapp Street.
With new technology and safety standards, the upgrade will be safer and more reliable, as well as provide extra backup so there are no failures to the system. Upgrades will include new ventilation fans and a generator, and the replacement of six pumps and electrical equipment.
The upgrade will ensure that the 1930s style architecture is preserved on both the exterior and interior of the building. Spanish style shingles will be restored and replicated, doors repainted, the façade of the building cleaned, and the large DEP sign will be relocated closer to Ralph Avenue so it does not block the view of the building. The chain link fence will be replaced and the beautiful wrought iron fencing, now rusty with chipped paint, will be restored.
All of this work will be done within the perimeter of the fencing, but the bus stop near the pump station may have to be temporarily relocated as the driveway that leads into the facility is being redone. The DEP is working with the MTA on the exact relocation site.
Construction will take place, Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The project is in the design phase, and a construction contract is expected to be awarded by May 2024, which would mean that construction could begin in the late summer/early fall of 2024.
The floor was opened to board members who expressed a variety of suggestions and concerns, one by Paul Curiale regarding the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposal to create the “Paerdegat Avenue North Connector,” a bike path that would run along Flatlands Avenue, from Ralph Avenue to East 76th Street. The path would connect bicyclists from the Mill Basin/Bergen Beach area to the Canarsie Connector, which leads to Canarsie Park and the Jamaica Bay Greenway. To accomplish this, fencing belonging to the pump station would have to be removed to increase the size of the 15-foot sidewalk to a 30-foot sidewalk to allow room for the bike path. The project had been delayed, but the DEP rep promised that he would look into it.
Another board member suggested adding additional lighting and security cameras around the building, as the area in front of the building, and near the bus stop, is pretty dark at night. Michael Benjamin took the suggestion one step further, requesting security for the pump station, as it could possibly be vulnerable to an attack, as we are living in crazy times.
As Canarsie, Mill Basin and Bergen Beach are prone to flooding, the DEP rep assured Sal Calise that, as part of the design discussions, backup systems will be available should a pump fail while work is being done. Also, before the old pumps are removed, the new pumps will be up and running.
Another lesson learned from Superstorm Sandy is the necessity of elevating equipment. While the existing generator is at 11.5 feet, an emergency generator will be at an elevation of 14.5 feet.
Finally, there are no plans to increase the capacity of the pumping station from the existing 57 million gallons, as after an analysis by the DEP, they concluded that the 57 million gallons was at the efficiency point. The rep explained that if more water comes in than they can pump, it will go to the CSO (combined sewer overflow).
In her monthly update, CB 18 District Manager Sue Ann Partnow encouraged residents to attend their civic meetings. “That’s the place where you find out about everything going on; they are important.”
In park and playground news, Canarsie Park will be the recipient of a horticulture garden, the second of its kind within CB 18 (the first one was started in Amersfort Park). The Forestry Division has already begun pruning in the park. The long-awaited renovations to the Marine Park Oval are scheduled to start in June, and eight additional pickleball courts are being added in Marine Park. Partnow said there will be a Zoom meeting on June 1st to discuss the design of the playground at Hickman Park located at Roy Mann Jr. High School.
In DOT news, East 59th Street was approved for signage along the commercial portion of the street, there is ongoing cleanup on Preston Court and a camera was requested on Avenue W and East 69th Street at the dead end by the basin due to dumping. The DOT has also approved the installation of a traffic signal at Avenue T and East 73rd Street. Unfortunately, a request for a time change for the traffic light at Rockaway Parkway and Shore Parkway was denied by the DOT. Partnow said she sent a letter to the agency due to the traffic that backs up onto the Belt Parkway, but “their investigations found that traffic is impacted by construction and no signal timing changes are recommended at this time.”
Handicapped parking signs at Marine Park were vandalized, Partnow said. “New signs will be installed for the parking lot by Avenue S, and blue lines and stencils will be painted to identify the handicap spots until the signs are finished.”
The next meeting of CB18 will take place on Wednesday, June 21st.