His basement floods so often that all of his possessions there are on stilts. His garage even visibly leans to the left.
Bitetto and fellow neighbors on 211th Street and 34th Avenue blame the Department of Transportation (DOT) for creating the conditions for flooding. According to Bitetto, who has lived in his home for 35 years, DOT repaved the road six years ago, but sloped the street toward their homes.
Worst of all, DOT workers didn’t install a storm drain, he said.
“You had the funds to create this problem,” Bitetto said. “Now find the funds to correct this problem, ideally by installing a storm drain at the corner so it stops from coming down to us.”
In six years, Bitetto has contacted numerous agencies and elected officials, including DOT, Department of Environmental Protection and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s office.
He even spoke in front of Community Board 11, asking everyone he could for capital funds to make the appropriate fixes.
“They’ve done nothing,” he said.
State Senator Tony Avella, who visited Bitetto’s home last Thursday, has written 17 letters to city agencies requesting action. He called the situation “outrageous.”
“The city has to do the right thing here. Either re-slope the road, or put in some drainage,” he said. “But this has to stop.
“The responsibility lies totally with DOT, they have to fix this,” Avella added. “Anything else is not acceptable.”
Bitetto suggested that the city purchase the affected homes, but even he doubts the houses are worth much given the flooding problems.
The longtime Bayside resident said his next step is to sue the city in a class-action lawsuit.
Sal Amorillo, who has lived in the area for three decades, said he had the same situation as his neighbor. Whenever heavy rains fall, water collects on his front lawn and seeps into his house.
When he alerted city officials, Amorillo said DOT actually showed up to install a catch basin and put in new asphalt. However, the street was still sloped the wrong way, he said.
“Whenever you have a big rainstorm, it’s a regular occurrence,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate.”
A DOT spokesperson confirmed that the agency repaved the location in May of 2012. The initial complaint of ponding water was then forwarded to DOT the following spring.
In 2013, DOT determined that the repaving did not impact the contours of 211th Street, where Bitetto claimed ponding was happening, the spokesperson said.
“In an effort to remedy the ponding conditions here, DOT worked with the property owner to install an asphalt beam across the end of 211th Street to deflect water from the property in November of 2013,” the spokesperson said. “Last fall, DOT conducted a follow-up survey/investigation of this location and recently informed Mr. Bitetto [that] DOT now aims to increase the height of the beam to address the flooding condition.”