DEP stops flooding in Collucci Park

Flooding on Wilkinson Avenue near Colucci Park and Payground may finally be drying up.

After an outcry from the community about frequent water ponding at the intersection of Wilkinson Avenue and Hutchinson River Parkway East, the city Department of Environmental Protection is looking into installing at least one catch basin in the area to stem the problem.

According to Anita Valenti of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers Association, the flooding has been going on for several years and occurs every time it rains. She said the community is concerned because it has led to offensive odors in the area and an increased population of disease-spreading insects.

“It is a big problem, especially in the summer, because the water just lays there and attracts mosquitoes, which can lead to West Nile Virus,” she said. “The DEP realized it’s a serious problem, so they are finally looking into it.”

DEP officials confirmed that engineering studies are being done in the area to see if a catch basin will relieve the problem, but officials did not say when the study will be completed, or when a basin could be installed at the site.

Valenti said because of the gradient of the road, the water collects in puddles in the park that are the lenghth of a car.

Although the size of the puddle depends on the amount of rainfall, it doesn’t take much to have the area covered in puddles, Valenti said.

Just one warm, stagnant puddle could easily become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The Bronx, along with all boroughs except Manhattan, has already had several West Nile Virus alerts this year, and recently a spraying was done in the area to kill mosquitoes that could carry the virus.

Once residents in the area began contacting Valenti and the office of Senator Jeff Klein, the two got together to tour the park. Soon after, the senator’s office sent a letter to the DEP, which responded by notifying them that the engineering study was underway.

“It was a hot day and the water was just laying there. You’d have thought it would evaporate with all the heat,” Valenti said of her tour of the area in June.

In a June 7 letter to the DEP commissioner, Senator Klein said that residents were particularly concerned during the summer months, when children use the park more often, and the heat and thunderstorms could compound the issue.

Although he hoped the work could be completed by the summer, he said he is continuing to work with the DEP to install a drain to capture the rainwater .

Valenti just hopes the problem will be solved soon so her children can play in the park again.

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