|Bill Parry/Times Ledger|
Rev. Lisa D. Jenkins, and several of her East Elmhurst neighbors, were in shock when they learned the city plans to invest $3.2 million to upgrade Overlook Park and build the neighborhood’s first dog run. When the project was announced in October, the city Parks Department said it would improve green space and the quality of life for area residents.
The minister said $3.2 million to renovate a park was not what the residents and homeowners had asked the city for.
“For decades we have asked for the sewer system and piping in our streets to be replaced,”Jenkins said. “For decades we have had sewer backups and water damage. Our homes have consistent water damage and permanent mold because the problem will not go away.”
Every time it rains, the system that was built in the 1930s and 1950s is overwhelmed with raw sewage and stormwater run-off, she said, bubbles up through toilet and floor drains into her basement. Black mold is a fixture on the floor and walls and the door to the basement is covered with plastic sheeting.
Jenkins has suffered respiratory problems from the mold and mildew left behind by frequent flooding.
“It’s bananas, it’s really hard to wrap your head around,” she said. “My parents made that basement my own when I was growing up and now I can’t even go down there without a breathing apparatus. I’ve got no more money to make repairs. As a single mother with a kid in college, I can’t even get insurance anymore. What happens if there’s a fire? I’ll be homeless. We’re told they don’t have the money to replace the pipes in our streets, but they have $3.2 million for a dog run? Our houses are deteriorating and nobody is concerned. Who will hear us?”