Large Concrete Medians in Queens Village to be Transformed Into Resilient Natural Drainage Spaces to Better Manage Stormwater, Reduce Neighborhood Flooding and Improve the Health of Jamaica Bay

December 1, 2021

Together the seven new green spaces will capture a minimum of 5 million gallons of stormwater annually; Maps, renderings and “before” photos are available on DEP’s Flickr Page

Replacing concrete with native plantings and trees will also lower summer temperatures, improve air quality and provide a habitat for pollinators and other threatened species

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Vincent Sapienza today joined with City Council Member Barry Grodenchik to announce plans to transform seven large concrete medians in Queens Village into lush, green drainage spaces to better manage stormwater and reduce neighborhood flooding. By absorbing a minimum of 5 million gallons of stormwater annually from Hillside Avenue and Winchester Boulevard in the vicinity of Martin Van Buren High School, the green medians will create additional capacity in the neighborhood’s sewer system which will help to reduce local flooding and any sewer overflows into Jamaica Bay. The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.5 million, is anticipated to break ground in late 2022 and construction will continue for up to twelve months.

“Replacing these large concrete medians with natural drainage areas will keep a substantial amount of stormwater out of the sewers serving Queens Village and help to reduce flooding,” said DEP Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “In just the last several years we have constructed more than 11,000 green infrastructure assets that beautify neighborhoods, absorb stormwater and reduce sewer overflows, and we will continue to partner with elected officials, community boards, businesses and residents to make our city more resilient to our changing climate.”

“Fighting climate change means rethinking our infrastructure in bold new ways and this project does exactly that,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “By designing new green spaces to combat flooding we can keep residents safe, better manage stormwater, and beautify our neighborhoods all at once. This is how we build a more resilient city for all New Yorkers.”

“Flooding after Hurricane Ida made it clear that we need to find additional ways to keep stormwater from overloading the sewer system,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “That means investing in green infrastructure projects like this one, on our streets and in our parks. These trees will not only beautify the streetscape, but will also serve as a powerful tool to protect this community against the effects of climate change.”

“Huge concrete road medians have been a blight on our community for decades,” said Council Member Barry S. Grodenchik. “Thanks to the advocacy of the Rocky Hill Civic Association and DEP’s commitment to green infrastructure, new green spaces will reduce flooding, improve waterways, and beautify the streetscape. Most importantly, they will create a cleaner, greener, healthier environment for local residents.”

In total, nearly three acres, or more than 121,600 square feet, of what is currently impermeable concrete will be rebuilt and optimized with subsurface drainage chambers and engineered rock and soil and planted with ornamental grasses and perennial wildflowers in order to absorb the rain that falls on it and adjacent roadways, or a minimum of 5 million gallons annually. Additional large concrete medians in Queens will be transformed into resilient green infrastructure medians beginning next year, with other sites in the planning and design stages.

Over the last several years DEP’s nation-leading green infrastructure program has constructed more than 11,000 green infrastructure installations including curbside rain gardens, green roofs, subsurface detention, permeable pavers, concrete and asphalt, and now green medians have been added to the City’s drainage toolbox. All of these green installations intercept stormwater before it can drain into the sewer system, thereby creating additional capacity to help reduce flooding and sewer overflows into local waterways.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing approximately 1 billion gallons of high-quality drinking water each day to nearly 10 million residents, including 8.8 million in New York City. The water is delivered from a watershed that extends more than 125 miles from the city, comprising 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes. Approximately 7,000 miles of water mains, tunnels and aqueducts bring water to homes and businesses throughout the five boroughs, and 7,500 miles of sewer lines and 96 pump stations take wastewater to 14 in-city treatment plants. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 in the upstate watershed. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program, with a planned $20.1 billion in investments over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.