Dec. 2, 2021 By Christian Murray
An unsightly stretch of Hillside Avenue known for its large concrete road medians will be undergoing a makeover where it will be transformed into a lush, green area that will prevent neighborhood flooding.
The project, which involves converting seven large concrete medians into drainage spaces designed to manage storm water, aims to combat local flooding and beautify the landscape. The overhaul is estimated to cost $2.5 million, with workers expected to break ground in late 2022. Construction is anticipated to take 12 months.
Representatives from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Council Member Barry Grodenchik held a press conference at the site Wednesday to announce the elaborate plans.
“Replacing these large concrete medians with natural drainage areas will keep a substantial amount of stormwater out of the sewers serving Queens Village and help to reduce flooding,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza.
The new drainage system, DEP officials said, will be able to absorb a minimum of 5 million gallons of stormwater annually from Hillside Avenue and Winchester Boulevard—located in the vicinity of Martin Van Buren High School. The green medians are expected to create additional capacity in the neighborhood’s sewer system, which will help to reduce local flooding and any sewer overflows into Jamaica Bay.
In total, nearly three acres of what is currently impermeable concrete will be rebuilt and optimized with subsurface drainage chambers, with ornamental grasses and perennial wildflowers planted above. The new drainage system will absorb the rain that falls on it and from adjacent roadways.
“Huge concrete road medians have been a blight on our community for decades,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik in a statement. “Thanks to the advocacy of the Rocky Hill Civic Association and DEP’s commitment to green infrastructure, new green spaces will reduce flooding, improve waterways, and beautify the streetscape. Most importantly, they will create a cleaner, greener, healthier environment for local residents.”