DYKER HEIGHTS — The de Blasio administration’s plan to install rain gardens on sidewalks across the five boroughs is all wet, according to one homeowner who is trying to fight City Hall.
John DeAngelo, a Dyker Heights resident, has organized a petition drive against the Department of Environmental Protection’s rain garden plan and has collected 135 signatures to date in less than a month. “I can get a lot more,” he told the Home Reporter.
DEP is currently scouting locations in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights for rain gardens as part of the city’s ongoing effort to make New York more environmentally-friendly.
Residents have reported seeing green markings on sidewalks that were painted by DEP to indicate a possible spot for a rain garden.
A rain garden is built at the curb and resembles a large tree pit. It includes an incline that allows water to enter the rain garden as it flows down toward the catch basin. The purpose of a rain garden is to manage stormwater and improve water quality in waterways, according to DEP.
Rain gardens reduce puddles and ponding on the street, improve street drainage and lower the temperature on the street on hot days, according to environmental experts.
But DeAngelo said the rain garden plan is unworkable and could result in homeowners being flooded with bills.
“From what I hear, these things are going to be put in. It’s going to happen. But we in our neighborhood, don’t want them,” DeAngelo said.
DeAngelo charged that rain gardens will become dumping grounds for litter and dog feces and since they will be built at the curb, could cause people to trip and fall while getting out of parked cars. “If people slip and fall, who gets sued, the homeowner?” he asked.
At a meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association in September, DEP representatives told residents the city will be dispatching workers out to the streets two days a week to clean the rain gardens. “But what about the other five days?” De Angelo asked.
DeAngelo found the green markings in front of his house a few months ago. “I didn’t know what they were, so I started to ask around,” he said.
It’s not clear how many rain gardens DEP is looking to build in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
“More than 4,000 rain gardens have already been built across the city,” DEP spokesperson Edward Timbers told the Home Reporter via email.
DEP is familiar with the concerns expressed by Dyker Heights residents, Timbers said. “We recently presented plans for rain gardens at a Dyker Heights Civic Association meeting to explain to residents more about the process and address any concerns. Right now we’re in the survey phase to determine potential appropriate locations in a small section of Dyker Heights, as it drains to Coney Island Creek,” he said.
Construction of rain gardens in Dyker Heights isn’t expected to begin until 2022.