Incompetent Water Main Replacement Is Flooding Their Homes, Park Slope Residents Say

Incompetent Water Main Replacement Is Flooding Their Homes, Park Slope Residents Say
The flooded basement of 104 Berkeley Place. Courtesy of the St. Johns Place Community Association.

City’s water main replacement project is flooding their homes, Park Slope homeowners say, and they want the city to stop it.

About 50 residents showed up to the St. John’s Place Community Association’s (SJPCA) second official meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the various issues caused by the construction involved with replacing water mains in northern Park Slope, between Flatbush Ave and Union St and between 4th Ave and 8th Ave.

Neighbors say that the construction on the water main and sewage project, which has been taking place over the past two years, has caused their basements to flood during major rainstorms, and some say that the construction is rattling the foundation of old, historic homes, especially those along Sixth Ave and St. John’s Place. Many homes in the area, part of the landmarked Park Slope Historic District, are upwards of 120 years old.

St. John’s Place between 6th & 7th Avenues, August 5, 2019 (Photo: Pamela Wong/Bklyner)

Triumph Construction Corp received a $38.6 million contract from the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) in 2017 to complete the project, beating eight other bidders to win the project replacing trunk water mains and sewer lines in the area. Triumph’s other projects, according to its website, include installing nearly 1,000 LinkNYC kiosks, sewer and water main work during the redevelopment of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the reconstruction of Astor Place in Manhattan.

Nonetheless, meeting attendees had no kind words for Triumph, with some referring to the company as “incompetent” and others saying that the contract should be rebid.

“Triumph has the contract to put in the water main,” said Carmi Bee, an architect who lives on St. John’s Place. “If you think this is bad now, wait,” referring to the fact that this is just the preliminary work being done to get ready to replace the water main.

Another attendee, Sandra Linenschmidt, who lives at the corner of Sixth Ave and St. John’s Place, said that her home was flooded with about a foot-and-a-half of water and raw sewage. “They had to dig 12 feet down to find my sewer line, and it was all impacted,” she said.

Randy Gresl, the President of the SJPCA, said that at the last meeting on September 18, 46 people wrote on sheets of paper that their homes had sustained major damage as a result of the work. “We had a tremendous amount of people report flooding and cracking and dust in the air,” he said.

Gresl and other SJPCA members are meeting with officials at the Mayor’s office next week to discuss the issue. Those impacted have not been satisfied with the responses of those politicians and government officials representing them, particularly from DDC, though that has changed somewhat in recent weeks.

City Council Member Brad Lander, who represents the area, will be holding a town hall on the issue on November 6 at St. John’s Church, with officials from DDC and the Mayor’s office. Attendees said that while Lander was late to address the issue, he is now engaging, having sent a letter in September along with Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Senator Zellnor Myrie asking the department to investigate the flooding. DDC subsequently hired an outside engineer to assess the flooding and the impact the construction work has had.

“Our office has been listening to and working with constituents, fellow elected officials, and agencies to address the issues with the water main project,” said Lander spokesperson Naomi Dann in an email to Bklyner. Dann said that impacted property owners should file claims with the City Comptroller’s office.

A spokesperson for DDC reiterated that it had hired an independent engineering firm, SI Engineering, to investigate the cause of the flooding, and said that the firm will begin its work by the end of the month. “In the meantime, we’ve increased our pumping capacity at the site,” the spokesperson said in an email. “Pumps are used to bypass sections of the sewer system that are under construction.”

A spokesperson for Triumph did not respond to a request for comment.