The Hole

If you glance to your right while crossing the border from Brooklyn to Queens on South Conduit Avenue, you may be surprised to see wet, sunken, dirt roads littered with scrap cars, weeds and several lonely houses. This is The Hole, a neighborhood of approximately 40 acres defined by its diminutive elevation and the Mafia’s predilection for depositing bodies there. 

Conduit Avenue divides four densely populated neighborhoods, someone is injured daily in car crashes along its route, and its traffic contributes to exceedingly high noise and air pollution for all adjacent neighborhoods. Plagued not only by its proximity to Conduit Avenue, the few residents of The Hole are subject to perpetual flooding and sewage overflow thanks to the neighborhood’s location — four feet above sea level, 30’ below its surroundings, and only 1200’ from the beleaguered Spring Creek, part of the Jamaica Bay estuary.

The proposed interruption addresses the issues perpetuated by Conduit Avenue and The Hole’s unique position in the landscape of New York City. 

Evacuate The Hole, decommission Conduit Avenue and convert them into stormwater diversion infrastructure — a reservoir and extension of Spring Creek along Conduit Avenue. Along the upper banks of the reopened creek, the city will make the land available for residential development via 100 year leases. Residents of The Hole will be guaranteed new homes on the site, and lease revenues will fund infrastructure costs. 

This interruption highlights the priorities we must embrace to mitigate the harms caused by our callous relationship with environmental systems. Reopening waterways and creating new reservoirs acknowledges water’s persistence without hardening our shorelines and damaging habitats. Prioritizing housing and stormwater management over vehicles (in an area well served by public transit) is critical to making cities tools for grappling with climate change rather than hot spots for damage.

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