Recently, legislation was introduced by Councilman Donovan Richards that would require a change in the building code to make it mandatory to install backwater valves/check valves in special flood hazard areas. This is to prevent sewer back-up or backflow of sewage.
While well intentioned, I wonder if he considered the cost to his constituents. Such a device cost about $4,000 to install. Has he considered the seniors on a fixed income who cannot afford this? Has he considered the working families who are still living paycheck to paycheck and had to spend so much money while being displaced from their homes? How about the middle-class families who are now living on one income due to the economy?
At a recent candidate forum at St. Luke’s Cathedral in Springfield Gardens, he stated, in error, that he was standing in flood zone B. Is he not aware that the flood zone designations have changed from A, B and C to 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5? For the record he was standing in flood zone 3. Maybe he is not aware that most of his district is now within a flood zone.
For decades, many areas of Southeast Queens have been neglected in terms of sewer projects. Other areas have sewers that are inadequate. Where is the responsibility of our city government in all of this? Why should the homeowners shoulder all the responsibility?
Councilman Ulrich in a neighboring district is fighting for his constituents by standing up against mandates that will negatively affect his constituents. Who is fighting for the residents of Laurelton, Rosedale, Springfield Gardens, Arverne and the Rockaways?
I urge all the other City Council members with a conscience to stand up and vote against this bill if it comes to a vote. Instead, I am urging them to draft legislation that would offer incentives for those homeowners who install the backwater valve.
This could be a $2,000 property tax break spread over a five-year period. The city should meet the homeowners half way, while fighting to get more resources from the state and the federal governments.
It is not enough for one to tout how many bills were introduced. What counts is, how these bills benefit one's constituents and the City of New York.