According to Marcia Pavlica and Jack Reith, Country Club isn’t just due for new storm water drains – it’s overdue.
For decades, storm water has overwhelmed the neighborhood’s combined sewer system, sending human waste into bathtubs, basements and backyards. NYC skipped a sizable slice of Country Club during its massive sewer renovations in the 1970s. Despite residential growth and a high water table, combined sewers serve Country Clubbers between Waterbury, Fairfax and Baisley avenues.
“A whole quarter of our community was forgotten,” Pavlica said.
Pavlica wants the city to install separate sewer lines for storm water. Currently, storm water and sanitary sewage pass below the neighborhood together. When heavy rains flood the system, a messy cocktail shoots into some Country Club basements.
Country Club’s deficient drains topped Community Board 10’s capital budget requests for fiscal year 2010. But the Department of Environmental Preservation has pushed the project to the out years. No further information was available from DEP as of press time.
“Out years!” Reith said. “The schedule changes constantly.”
Reith and Pavlica shepherded then DEP deputy commissioner Doug Greeley through Country Club in 2007. Greeley helped install a new sewer from Rawlins Avenue to Kearney Avenue, up Waterbury Avenue to Fairfax Avenue, where the work stopped.
Reith, who lives at Waterbury and Fairfax avenues, is half-satisfied. His backyard floods less frequently.
“One of my sons had a Sunfish boat,” Reith said. “Years ago, he could have gone sailing back there.”
But Country Club’s sewer problem remains. According to Reith, Waterbury Avenue’s crown sits higher than its sidewalks. When the clouds dump, water rushes down driveways.
“Like Niagara Falls,” Reith said.
Councilman James Vacca sent a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday, February 23 suggesting that Bloomberg ask Albany to fix the sewers. After all, the state will receive $25 billion by way of federal stimulus.
According to Vacca, Reith’s slice of Country Club was supposed to receive a new sewer line first in 2012, then in 2010. And now?
“I cannot begin to explain how important these projects are to my community,” Vacca wrote. “Whenever it rains, dozens of homeowners see their basements deluged with inches of foul sewage. This has been happening for decades, and whenever the community is told work will begin, another delay emerges.”
Pavlica blames the problem on overdevelopment and complacent Country Clubbers.
“The old timers put their washing machines on cement blocks,” she said. “In those years, you made do. You didn’t complain.”
Many Country Club residents use stoppers and shut-off valves to guard against flooding.
“When you have a young mother pumping raw sewage out of her first floor bathroom, you know these houses need a respite,” Pavlica said. “I hope I’ll see a new sewer line before I die.”