Hunters Point Residents Worry as Gantry Park Floods

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on October 29, 2012 5:01pm 

HUNTERS POINT — Portions of Gantry Park, a popular waterfront hangout in Long Island City, were under water Monday, but that didn't stop some residents — despite strong gusts of wind and driving rain — from showing up to take photos, even though all New York parks have been ordered closed.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who was touring the waterfront area, said there had already been significant flooding in Gantry Plaza State Park as well as in the nearby Anable Basin. The level of flooding in the park, he said, was already equal to flood waters during Hurricane Irene last year.

“There are some parts of the park that are already under water and the storm is not even here yet,” he said. “So there are some reasonable concerns about how high the water will get here and how much flooding we will see here in Hunters Point.” 

On Sunday, Van Bramer also toured the area with staff members, posting flyers on building and speaking with residents who live in Zone A, which the city has ordered evacuated due to the threat of coastal flooding.

Bill Bylewski, vice-president of Friends of Gantry Neighborhood Parks, a volunteer group that helps keep the area clean, worried about the park. “I don’t know what I’ll find when I get back home in a couple of days,” he said.

Bylewski, who lives in the CityLights Building across the street from the park, decided to stay with his friends on the Upper West Side. His buildings' lobby, he said, is only a few feet higher than the level of the East River.

“We had some flooding during Hurricane Irene that came up and covered part of the lawn, but it receded quickly and left no damage,” he said.  “We were very lucky last year, but they are saying that this year it will be much worse.”

“The tide is very high and cops are driving around in the evacuation zone reminding people that there was a request for mandatory evacuations,” said Sheila Lewandowski, a local activist and executive director of The Chocolate Factory Theater, who lives just outside of the evacuation zone. “But I think most people are sitting tight.”

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