Oo-ooh, that smell to linger for 3 years

December 28, 2006 at 3:54 am Leave a comment

Bay Ridgites won’t get full relief from the stench of the Owls Head sewage treatment plant for nearly three years, city officials said at a raucous town hall meeting last week.

This was the first time the city informed residents that construction on the “grit and scum” building, where, euphemistically speaking, solid waste is strained from liquid, wouldn’t be completed until the tail end of 2009.

But the city said that the building, part of the 54-year old plant at Shore Road near Owls Head Park, wasn’t the primary nostril offender. Rather, according to the results of an odor survey also released at the meeting, the plant’s stinkiest components are the “primary settling tanks,” the open-air containers situated closest to residential buildings.

The Department of Environmental Protection has begun covering those tanks with laminated plywood, a job that should be completed by March. DEP called the plywood a “short-term” solution, but one resident called it “slipshod” and another, a “Home Depot plan.”

Residents are so impatient because the sewage-treatment facility has been offending Bay Ridgites since at least the 1980s.

Recent moves haven’t placated residents, who have begun circulating a petition threatening legal action. And at the meeting, they laid into the commissioners — despite a request from Community Board 10 Chairman Craig Eaton to “be respectful.”

That wasn’t in the cards.

“To me, DEP means ‘Dysfunctional Environmental Procrastination,’” said CB10 member Allen Bortnick. “We’re living in a veritable year-round outhouse.”

And Robert Sablic, a Shore Road resident, complained that the city was forgetting the human impact of the problem.

“Over the past summer, I had difficulty sleeping,” said Sablic. “The odor got to be so bad, that I wanted to rent a hotel room in the city [Manhattan].”

If the residents were combative, they were only following the lead of the elected officials who organized the Dec. 14 meeting.

City Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) attacked the city’s honesty: “To put it mildly, DEP has been less than forthright about what’s happening at Owls Head for years.”

For once, state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) agreed with him, telling DEP officials that the problem with the agency was not merely its foot-dragging but its inability to be “up-front and honest.”

“It’s hard to give you credibility on this issue,” said Golden, a former cop.

The DEP staffers were contrite.

“We apologize for the quality-of-life impact of the plant on the community,” said Mark Lanaghan, an assistant commissioner.

But the audience was far from appeased.

“It took a consultant to tell you that the primary launders are the main source of odor?” asked an incredulous Gentile. “Rather than wait for paid consultants, you should have been listening to the community for years on end.”

The residents applauded.

The Brooklyn Papers

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