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Paving grace: Private street seeks salvation from city

Gone fishing: Councilman Alan Maisel says the puddle in the private section of Church Lane that the city refuses to fix is deep enough to fish in.
Brooklyn Daily
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Call it Church Lake.

The city must fix a water-filled pit in the middle of a secluded and long-ignored Canarsie byway — Church Lane — that’s nearly deep enough to catch a fish in, the local pol charged.

“There is a huge pond, literally a pond — I saw a whole bunch of people fishing for snappers,” joked Councilman Alan Maisel (D–Canarsie). “There’s a depression there, it’s been filling up with water for years.”

Church Lane — which extends from E. 86th to E. 92nd streets — is a complicated road in the neighborhood, because chunks of it are privately owned by the residents who live along it and who are responsible for its upkeep, while other sections are owned and maintained by the city.

But forcing homeowners to fix the typical and costly wear and tear of a publicly traveled street is too burdensome for many individuals, so Mayor DeBlasio recently signed a new law Maisel introduced, which requires the Department of Transportation to identify and study all of the city’s unmapped streets with the aim of the city acquiring them in order to bring them into the normal system of municipal maintenance.

Church Lane is one of those streets, but the city refuses to address its flooding problems while it’s still privately owned, which Maisel said shows a disregard for both the living and the dead, since the standing water not only provides a haven for disease-carrying insects, but the runoff undermine the tombstones in a cemetery just a few feet away.

“It’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes, this is just further evidence why we need the city to take over these streets,” Maisel said. “And it’s causing huge problems for the cemetery, because the water is seeping into the grave area.”

The Department of Transportation just finished milling the thoroughfare between Remsen Avenue and E. 89th Street, and E. 88th and E. 87th streets, and it plans to lay down fresh pavement in that section this week — but it won’t touch the lake, which sits between E. 88th and E. 89th streets, because it’s not yet city-owned property, according to an agency spokesman.

But it’s the still-private section the city is skipping over that is in desperate need of attention, Maisel said.

“I’ve asked them to do all of Church Lane, but the city is only doing a part of Church Lane that the city has title to and the ponding sits right in the middle,” he said.

The Department of Health’s exterminators routinely visit the Church Lane site either weekly or bi-weekly to treat it with mosquito-killing larvicide as needed. It was last visited and treated with the pesticide on June 23, and before that on May 31, according to a spokeswoman for the health department.

The Department of Transportation must complete its study of all the city’s umapped streets by June 30, 2018.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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