July 26, 2021
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza and Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer today joined Staten Island Borough President James Oddo to tour progress on the $121 million expansion of the Mid-Island’s New Creek Bluebelt. The work, consisting of three separate projects, is anticipated to be completed on schedule and builds upon the $25 million Phase I.
The $33 million “Gateway to the Bluebelt” project is creating a public viewing area and introduction to the rehabilitated New Creek wetlands. This project received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Program. The $42 million expansion of the New Creek Bluebelt to the east of Hylan Boulevard, which will create the largest wetland area in the entire Bluebelt system, received an $11.1 million Hurricane Sandy recovery grant secured by Senator Schumer. Finally, the expansion of Last Chance Pond and the New Creek Bluebelt to the west of Hylan Boulevard is a $46 million project. The work is being funded by DEP and DOT and managed by DDC.
“With nearly 75 Bluebelts integrated into the drainage system across Staten Island, they have proven to be an integral tool for managing stormwater and reducing flooding, while also improving nearby property values,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “I’d like to thank Borough President Oddo for his inspiration for the Mid-Island Bluebelt and for his strong support for the program over the years.”
“These three projects, which are on time and will be completed in sequence from the end of 2021 up to 2023, represent over $100 million invested in Staten Island’s infrastructure, preserving and enhancing open space while providing natural Bluebelt drainage systems for stormwater,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “Next week we will begin planting tens of thousands of wildflowers, shrubs and trees which will beautify the area and also provide natural filtration for stormwater in the area.”
“I am so pleased to see the Bluebelt’s progress first-hand because since we initiated this project back in my first days in the City Council, I know well how much has gone into this ongoing multi-decade effort, and I know the relief and peace of mind it will finally provide to many Staten Islanders. Our Bluebelt isn’t just a bucolic setting of streams and ponds. It enables the installation of steel and concrete catch basins and sewers to end generations of flooding,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo. “These phases, when complete, will provide a great deal of stormwater relief for thousands of Staten Islanders in the Midland Beach area that is constantly burdened with issues resulting from poor drainage and lack of infrastructure. I thank our partners at DEP and DDC for their collaboration in making this happen for our borough.”
The award-winning Bluebelt program preserves natural drainage corridors such as streams, creeks, and ponds, and optimizes them to help control and filter stormwater from surrounding neighborhoods. Crews working on the Gateway project have cleared brush and trees from the future wetland area. The Gateway entrance, located on the south side of Hylan Boulevard, will feature a permeable paver walkway that leads to a stone-faced headwall looking out over the new wetland with views extending in the direction of lower New York Harbor. Benches will line the walkway, which will also feature site-salvaged boulders and interpretive signs that explain how the Bluebelt works, including detailed maps of the New Creek watershed, and messaging to encourage residents to protect the plants and animals that live in this unique habitat. The Gateway project will include the planting of 219 trees, 607 shrubs and 23,000 wildflowers and native plants, as well as wildflower seeding.
Construction will also include the installation of approximately 940 linear feet of new storm sewers and the replacement of 140 linear feet of sanitary sewers. While the roadway is open to construct the sewers, almost a half mile (2,588 linear feet) of new, more resilient ductile iron water mains will be added to replace older cast iron pipes. This will improve water distribution in the area and provide a reliable supply of water for decades to come. In order to allow New Creek to pass under Hylan Boulevard, the roadway is being raised, between Stobe Avenue and Seaver Avenue, by approximately five feet.
The second project encompasses 21 acres and features the largest man-made wetland in the Bluebelt system along with two outfalls, stilling basins, a micropool and a weir at Olympia Boulevard to regulate the downstream flow of water as it makes its way toward Raritan Bay. Work has included the removal of debris, trash, concrete rubble and invasive Phragmites, which can fuel wildfires. Once done, more than 85,400 wildflowers and native plants will be added, as well as 810 native shrubs and 440 trees.
In addition to the Bluebelt, construction will include the installation of more than one mile (approximately 5,500 linear feet) of new storm sewers along portions of Laconia Ave., Mason Ave., Seaver Ave., Filbert Ave., Rowan Ave., Stobe Ave., Jefferson Ave., Adams Ave., Nugent Ave., and Graham Blvd. More than 1,200 feet of sanitary sewers will be replaced and 870 feet of new sanitary sewer will be installed. While the roadway is open to construct the sewers, 500 feet of new water mains will be installed and 4,800 feet of new water mains will replace older cast iron pipes. This will improve water distribution in the area and provide a reliable supply of water for decades to come.
When construction is completed, stormwater that falls on roadways, rooftops and sidewalks in portions of the Dongan Hills, Grant City and Todt Hill neighborhoods will drain into new storm sewers and be discharged into Last Chance Pond at the top of the New Creek Bluebelt where it will slowly make its way to lower New York Harbor while being naturally filtered along the way. It’s flow, controlled by several new weirs, will wind through the already-completed $25 million Phase I. Upon completion, the New Creek Bluebelt will total 94 acres and drain a watershed area that is about 2,249 acres in size.
DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8.3 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit nyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $15.5 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.