A project to alleviate flooding in Queens has created a bigger mess for one homeowner in Broad Channel. He says the city and the contractor hired to do the work are ignoring his complaints. Borough Reporter Ruschell Boone has the story.
A busted pool, a broken shed, and a missing fence — that's just some of the damage Frank Harnisher says a city contractor did to his property while working on a project to alleviate chronic flooding on West 11th Road during high tide.
The 78-year-old has fought for months to get the contractor or the city to address the issue. "I can't get them down here, I can't get anybody to talk to me about how they are going to redo my property," he said.
Which was the agreement, according to a 2014 letter from the contracting firm EIC Associates.
Workers used his property at the end of the street to build a cofferdam, a watertight enclosure for construction below the waterline.
The company said it would return the area to its pre-construction condition, but instead Harnisher said it's been one problem after the other.
"When they erected the cofferdam a lot of my property deteriorated, and instead of building it back to its pre-existing condition, they shorted me five feet of property on one side, my existing rock bulkhead on the other side is three feet shorter, and now I'm subject to high tides," Harnisher said.
The contracting firm said it was told to vacate 11th Road to make room for Build it Back construction and couldn't go back.
But when NY1 reached out to the Department of Design and Construction, the agency overseeing the $28 million project, we were told that property that was removed or damaged because of the work will be restored.
"For property that may have been damaged accidentally by the contractor, the homeowner should advise his homeowner's insurance company, which may then attempt to recover damages from the contractor. He can also file a claim for damages with the Comptroller's Office," department spokesperson Ian Michaels said in a statement.
Harnisher called the statement unbelievable. "What's happening is there is a little gamesmanship between the city and the contractor on who's going to do it, but I'm the guy that suffered," Harnisher said.
The local assemblywoman has set up a meeting with the homeowner and the city to try to help him with the process.
"People are not owning what their responsibility is — because it's not his," Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato said.