Massive construction project is causing flooding in Park Slope brownstones

A construction project along Sixth Avenue in Park Slope has damaged several brownstones after severe floods.
Photo by Aidan Graham

Homeowners claim a massive city construction project has resulted in the routine flooding of their stately Park Slope brownstones.

“People have had anywhere from two to 16 inches of sewer water and stormwater in their homes,” said Michael Saunders, who lives near Sixth Avenue and St. Johns Place. “It’s cost me thousands of dollars to deal with the damage.”

The projects requires workers to dig a massive trench along Sixth Avenue between Union Street and Park Place in an effort to replace underground water mains and install sewers, catch basins, and manholes.

The three-year construction project officially began in January of 2018, but most of the heavy work kicked off earlier this year, and since then multiple residents living on or nearby the excavated roadway claim that their homes flood every time that it rains, and Saunders says there’s no doubt what’s to blame.

“When [Hurricane] Sandy came — and all the other hurricanes since — we didn’t have one drop of water — until the construction,” said Saunders. “If you presented this to a 10-year-old, they would do the right analysis about where the issue is coming from.”

The flooding along Sixth Avenue is so widespread that it’s become the talk of the town, with locals up and down the avenue swapping horror stories of bailing out their basements and tossing waterlogged furniture, according to a woman living just off the trenches.

“Neighbors on both sides of me had three to five inches, as did one across the road that I know of, and one a few doors up from me,” said Kathleen Dillon, who lives on St. Johns Place near Sixth Avenue.

Union Street resident Phil Gable said his basement took on a few inches during a rainstorm earlier this month, and he recounted water gushing out of walls that have no business springing a leak.

“Water was just shooting through the wall, which doesn’t make any sense — there are no pipes back there,” said Phil Gable, who lives just off Sixth Avenue. “The backyard drains as it’s supposed to, and there was no pooling in the front at all. It was just the basement, which had several inches”

Another Sloper — who, like Saunders, says that her home rode out Hurricane Sandy unharmed in 2012 — suffered substantial property damage during floods at her Sixth Avenue row house between Lincoln and St. Johns places.

“Everything that was in contact with the floor was damaged, and had to be thrown away. And there was mud everywhere,” said Betty Lou Farrell. “It was above my ankle.”

The regularity of the heavy floods have left locals in fear of the structural integrity of their homes.

“Every time it rains now there’s water all over the place,” said Farrell. “And it could be compromising the foundation of the house.”

The locals have attempted to register their gripes with anyone who will listen, including Councilman Brad Lander, the mayor’s office, and the Department of Design and Construction to name a few, but nothing has come of it and property owners are getting salty.

“The thing that galls me the most is that there’s been no communication to anyone in the neighborhood. It’s like we don’t even exist. It’s offensive,” said Farrell. “No one has demonstrated even an ounce of caring.”

A frustrated Farrell fired off an angry phone call to the community liaison tasked with handling the public, who denied any link between the construction and the deluge — calling it merely an “act of god,” according to the homeowner.

“He’s a company man, he’s not going to do anything,” said Farrell. “So I just ignored him.”

A spokesman with the Department of Design and Construction — the city agency tasked with overseeing the project — said that they are “investigating the flooding reports,” and promised to install larger storm sewers in the area to help mitigate the flooding issues — whatever their cause.

Meanwhile, locals seeking immediate relief and assistance have been swamped by government bureaucracy, said Saunders.

“They tell me to call the commissioner of the blah blah blah. This is the best you can do?” he asked. “They keep giving us the runaround. I feel like I’m in Russia or something.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow him at twitter.com/aidangraham95.
Residents have experienced several inches of flooding after each rainfall since construction began.
B Lou Farrell

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