City Begins Land Acquisition Process
By Patricia Adams
Ozone Park property owners turned out in full force on Tuesday evening for what was originally billed as an emergency meeting of the Ozone Park Civic Association. The meeting was called after a “boiler plate” letter was sent to more than 500 residents who live on streets within the confines of HW411B, the street and sewer reconstruction of the Albert Road area.
Inclusion of the term eminent domain the letter sent a wave of panic through many residents who feared they may lose their property. Thankfully, despite the initial stress caused by the letter, there are no cases where a home or any other significant land parcels are in danger of being lost.
Department of Design and Construction fell under criticism because it failed to send details advising individual homeowners about how their property would be affected, if at all. “They [the city] could have spared the community this hysteria had they done their due diligence,” explained Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
But despite his criticism of the agency’s dissemination of information to the public, Ulrich says he is confident that the project will now move ahead. “I believe that construction will start as early as 2012. The acquisition process has begun and the project is fully funded. It will move forward.”
Ozone Civic President, Howard Kamph said at the end of the meeting he was happy with his decision at the last minute to allow the crowd to interact directly with the agency personnel. Kamph expressed concern over some additional provisions of the project which he said would include bike lanes and the return of Cohancy Street to a two-way. “If this project ever gets done, it will be a miracle,” Kamph said. “I’ve been hearing about it since I got here in 1981 and I have the DOT letters to prove it.”
Complete lists detailing the project were made available to all residents in attendance on Tuesday evening. Representatives from DDC reviewed individual properties with residents and advised them of any changes intended at their location. All homeowners were especially relieved to be informed that no residences were in jeopardy and that only a handful of structures, namely garages or sheds, are involved. The major alterations will be comprised mainly of residents losing some footage at curbside and other instances such as small retaining walls installed by homeowners. In all instances where the city would be acquiring property not already owned by them, financial compensation will be offered.
The original estimate to begin construction is early in 2013 and is expected to continue for approximately one year.