Projects totaling $20.3 million that aim to mitigate flooding are expected to begin in the Five Towns in 2019, representatives of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery said at a presentation at the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence on Sept. 27.
Poster boards lined the community center’s gymnasium, detailing drainage projects in Cedarhurst, Hewlett, Hewlett Bay Park, Hewlett Neck, Inwood, Lawrence, Woodmere and Woodsburgh. Hewlett Harbor’s mitigation work is a separate $3 million project.
All of the projects are part of the federally funded Community Reconstruction Program created in 2013, nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy. The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery coordinates the continuing recovery effort from Sandy and Tropical Storms Irene and Lee. More than $4 billion was made available through federal grants to help residents and business owners, and to rebuild and improve infrastructure.
“It’s exciting to see all the suggested projects our committee wanted after Sandy,” said Bob Block, one of the chairs of the Five Towns Community Reconstruction Program committee. “After all the work, it’s good that these projects are in the final stages, leading to the beginning of construction. Our community will be a safer and drier place.”
Over an 18-month period, data was collected, fieldwork was conducted, drainage systems were evaluated and improvements were developed in collaboration with local municipal engineers and the Nassau County Department of Public Works, officials from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery said.
“This is about mitigating the flooding that occurs on a regular basis — flooding from heavy rains or a nor’easter that shouldn’t be happening,” said Sean Sallie, who represented the county’s DPW at the meeting, “and we are seeking to reduce that and improve the quality of life.”
In the design phase are plans for a permanent backup generator, heating and ventilation upgrades and a disaster-recovery plan for the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, at a cost of roughly $2 million, officials said. Another $2 million will be spent on reconstruction of the Meadowmere Park Bridge to accommodate emergency vehicles, as well as the existing pedestrian walkways.
The state gave the Town of Hempstead the go-ahead to request bids on the bridge project. The Meadowmere Fire Department generator — a $500,000 project — is also being put out to bid by the town.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) called the recurring flooding “the issue in the Five Towns.” State Assemblywoman Melissa Miller (R-Atlantic Beach) addressed safety concerns, especially when a heavy storm occurs. “I’m really, really happy about this,” she said of the mitigation plans. “I’m tired of having these floods, and the evacuation routes are mostly underwater, and we have to worry about getting out.”
In Cedarhurst, the drainage networks along Peninsula Boulevard are be connected to a pumping station, which will limit tidal infiltration of the drainage system and pump storm water out during high tides.
Backflow-prevention devices will also be installed to limit tidal surges into the drainage system. Backflow-prevention devices have also been proposed for the Bayswater Boulevard, Walnut Road and Maple Road outfalls in Inwood to limit tidal overload of storm water drainage. “It’s a great plan if it works,” said lifetime Inwood resident Eleanor Grimando, 43. “I like that they are talking about getting it done and it’s not just theory.”
Across the Hewlett communities and Woodmere, a series of backflow devices are to be installed at critical points. In Lawrence, the installation of larger pipes and the realignment and repair of existing pipes are all expected to help curb the constant flooding at Marbridge Road and North and Harrison streets.
Hewlett Harbor Mayor Mark Weiss said that the village’s final plan was submitted to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. It includes installation of a backflow-prevention device at the main outfall, and pipe improvements. “When approved, we will take the details to residents for review,” Weiss said. “Obviously, the goal is to reduce flooding in low-lying areas while addressing all of the state’s environmental concerns.”
After the Five Towns drainage project study is finalized and Nassau County submits it to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, it will move into the design phase, Matt Monahan, a state spokesman, explained. “Projects will not change,” he said. “However, as part of design and construction, elements could evolve.”
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