Office of Borough President James P. Molinaro
Staten Island, New York
Work begins on removal of community eyesores
Staten Island, NY – “The struggle is over.” That was the message of the day as New York City Council Member James S. Oddo (R- Mid-Island), Staten Island Borough President James P. Molinaro, and Deputy Commissioner James Roberts of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) celebrated the removal a group of infamous billboards from newly acquired Bluebelt property in Dongan Hills. They were joined by Diana Petrone, owner of Not Just Bagels, which sits directly adjacent to the illegal billboards.
Several weeks ago, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) granted permits to remove the billboards. DEC permission was needed because most of the billboards sit on wetlands, which are now part of the Bluebelt Storm Water Management System. Three J's Service Corp. began removing the unsightly fifteen-foot tall billboards from the lot earlier today. Their removal ends a long odyssey replete with twists and turns and starts and stops. Ultimately, DEP's condemnation of the property for its inclusion in the Bluebelt directly led to the removal of the billboards. Borough President Molinaro allocated $100,000 for the acquisition of the properties where the billboards sit and a total of $800,000 for the New Creek Bluebelt project.
Oddo has allocated a total of $2.3 million for the New Creek project — $800,000 for the acquisition of properties and $1.5 million for site stabilization. Councilman Oddo said, “This is a great victory for the people of Staten Island who have been forced to deal with those ugly behemoths for many years. Those billboards were a blight on the community and we are all happy to see them go. I would like to thank DEP for their efforts in making this day a reality and Borough President Molinaro for his advocacy and hard work. I look forward to the day when the Bluebelt is fully operational and the property that was once home to these ugly billboards helps alleviate flooding issues in our community.”
Borough President Molinaro said, “The removal of these billboards is longoverdue, and I am pleased that we are finally eliminating this great eyesore from our community. Unfortunately, this great accomplishment is overshadowed by the long, cumbersome process that had to be undertaken to finally get the government to remove these billboards. It is unfortunate that the owner of this property was not more vigorously reprimanded years ago.”
“The NYCDEP is eager to continue building the New Creek Bluebelt and the removal of these billboards clears the way to make progress in this construction as part of DEP's storm flood relief program,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “Bluebelts are ecologically sound and cost- effective stormwater management systems to preserve natural drainage corridors and filter stormwater and New Creek Bluebelt will provide drainage relief to Midland Beach, Dongan Hills and Indian Village in Staten Island. The Bluebelt program not only saves money in infrastructure costs but it also provides important community open spaces and diverse wildlife habitats.”
February 5, 2008