Construction Finally Begins On Controversial Bronx Water Filtration Plant
After years of court battles, public hearings and protests, the city is finally building a water filtration plant in the Bronx. The work on the controversial five-year project started four months ago, and NY1’s Dean Meminger has an update on the progress.
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It's the big dig in the Bronx, and some local residents aren't digging it.
“It is actually very depressing because when you stand in the middle of the site, as far as the eye can see in every direction is nothing — it’s just mountains of dirt,” says Bronx state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.
Golfers used to tee off at the Mosholu Golf Course and range. Confused by all of the work, Clarence Baker was looking for another entrance for the golf course.
“I was here last fall, and this is totally, totally different,” he says.
But the Department of Environmental Protection says it's for a good cause - cleaner water for city residents. Opponents wanted the plant built in Westchester, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials argued it would be cheaper to build and maintain in the Bronx.
The facility will be tucked away 10-stories underground at a cost of $1.5 billion, a price tag Assemblyman Dinowitz says is outrageous.
“I think they lied to the community and low-balled the figure for Van Cortlandt Park in order to be able to claim that it was the cheapest site,” he says. “Now they are admitting that it’s going to be $165 million more than they were saying just a few months ago, and now suddenly it’s more expensive. Either they are incompetent or they lied.”
The DEP says that’s not so.
“When we put out our numbers for what the plant would cost, we used 2003 dollars. We are now projecting ahead using 2006 dollars,” says DEP Special Counsel Richard Friedman. “Inflation raises the cost of the project, but it's not that the project is more expensive than we estimated.”
The project is only in its first stage of construction, and trucks roll in and out all day long. Opponents say they fear the truck fumes and all of the dust will make residents sick.
“Although people might be playing in the park and construction is happening just two blocks over, we don’t know how the effect of the air quality is where we are right now,” says Anthony Rivieccio of Bronxites For Parks.
The group Friends of Van Cortlandt Park has been one of the most outspoken against the filtration plant being built at the current site. But because of all of the work that has already been done, they have dropped their lawsuit.
DEP has set up an outreach center across the street from the site where residents can bring all their issues and complaints.
You can find out more about the plant at www.nyc.gov/dep/filtercroton
- Dean Meminger