At a public scoping meeting on Tuesday, Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said the pollution of Flushing Creek was a huge concern for the Flushing West Rezoning Proposal.
The Department of City Planning is proposing zoning changes to a portion of Downtown Flushing along Flushing Creek, which they say will increase affordable housing and create a pedestrian-friendly waterfront.
But Koo said he feared no one would want to live in the area, or utilize the waterfront for recreational purposes, if the creek was not cleaned up.
“As we know, the creek is basically a cesspool that fills up whenever it rains. No one wants to go near it, because it stinks. I still haven’t heard a real solution for a sustainable creek. I expected Flushing West will change that, otherwise, who wants to live there?” he said.
Currently, the Tallman Island Wastewater Treatment Plant handles Flushing’s sewage. But the facility works over capacity, so when rainstorms flood the City’s sewer lines, the combined sewage and run-off from city streets is dumped straight into the Creek without being treated.
Koo said city planners had to address the root of the problem.
“The ongoing dredging of the Creek is great, but it’s only a temporary fix to an ongoing problem. The entire creek must be dredged, and more importantly, new capacity must be built,” he said. “We need to be sure that the department of environmental protection and the army core of engineers are involved in the planning and implementation of Flushing West.”
He also cautioned against overly sweet deals for developers, who would already be attracted to the area. “The challenge here is not getting the market to invest, but to make sure the investments meet the needs of the community,” he said.