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Work slated to begin in Sheepshead Bay’s courts

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They’re movin’ on up!

The city’s Hurricane Sandy-recovery program Build It Back plans to finally break ground this month to raise the homes in a private section of Sheepshead Bay known as the “courts,” while also replacing its old and clogged sewers to prevent future flooding.

The neighborhood’s private pipes, which the city is not responsible for fixing, connect dozens of homes to the public line — and after years of planning, pleading, meeting, and negotiating, Build it Back has agreed to replace the shoddy infrastructure on the taxpayer’s dime — just this one time — if the homeowners agreed to form a homeowners association and maintain the sewer lines in the future.

It took months to get most homeowners on board with the association, so nearly five years after the storm ripped through and destroyed the neighborhood, it’s about time repair work begins, said one Stanton Court homeowner, who originally scoffed at the idea.

“I’m feeling good about it, I’m glad it’s going to happen,” said Mike Rodriguez. “Hopefully everything is done according to plan.”

Worker’s for the city’s sluggish, scandal-ridden, and over-budget Build it Back program plan to put their shovels to the dirt within the this week to start replacing the failing sewers that often flood with sewage in heavy rain — they will also rebuild 17 homes and elevate 15 of them that sit about five feet below sea level in two different sections of the courts, bounded by Nostrand Avenue, Batchelder Street, Shore Parkway, and Emmons Avenue.

The project took a lot of planning in order to overcome the courts’ unique difficulties — such as extremely narrow streets, wide enough only for foot traffic — so it’s great to see it all finally happening, said the local councilmember.

“I believe it’s one of the only places in the city where they are not only rebuilding and elevating, but also rebuilding the infrastructure. People have been living there for years with sewer backups — literally sewer water — where every time it rains there, was there was not puddles or ponding, but more like pools of water,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D–Sheepshead Bay). “And I believe that working with Build it Back and with residents there, finally it’s becoming a reality where we will improve the people’s quality of life.”

Some worry that the courts’ rows of homes, many of which have been abandoned and overrun by cats in the wake of the 2012 superstorm, could potentially be an open invitation for homeless people to take up residence. Rodriguez and his wife have already moved out of their Stanton Court home, and in with their son in Coney Island in preparation for work to begin, but he still repeatedly checks in on his house to deter those less fortunate from moving in, he said.

“I’m concerned about the squatters coming in, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve been staying here,” Rodriguez said.

But Build it Back will ensure the security of each home, said a spokesman.

“Safety and security of residents’ homes in Build It Back’s care are a top priority,” said Matt Viggiano. “Build It Back works with local precincts in areas where homes are under construction so that all safety concerns are addressed quickly.”

Work is slated to begin this week and wrap by the end of the year or early 2018, a spokesman said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 6:49 pm, September 25, 2017
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