“Absolutely thrilled!” That’s how Deanine Nagengast, President of the Seaford Harbor PTA described the news that Nassau County has agreed to fund a secondary access road to help alleviate traffic at Seaford Harbor Elementary School.
The secondary access road, a 310-foot driveway, will be constructed on county-owned land running from Bayview Street just north of the school to Ionia Street, according to school officials. The access driveway is expected to be gated at both ends, but would be opened to alleviate traffic and provide an emergency exit if necessary. Currently, the only roadway from the 50-year-old elementary school is heavily congested during morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up times.
In a letter dated October 28, Nassau County Executive Edward P Mangano wrote to Seaford School Superintendent Brian Conboy to inform him that the DPW [Department of Public Works] and the County Attorney’s office would be drafting an Inter-Municipal Agreement between Nassau County and the Seaford Union Free School District. Once that agreement is received by the district, it will be presented to the Seaford Board of Education for approval.
“I’m wearing a cotton candy wig today. I’m having a party on my head for the access road. I’m so happy,” said Seaford Harbor parent Melanie Schnaier, who spoke with The Citizen on Halloween. “There is this feeling of elation. We finally did it!”
“We are thrilled to share this exciting news,” read the October 30 email news alert from Harbor Happenings. “This is truly a community effort. When all is said and done the ones that will benefit the most from having the access road built are the children of the Seaford Harbor Elementary School, as their safety is of the utmost importance.”
“We have many people to thank for putting this project into action,” said Seaford Superintendent Brian Conboy. “We thank Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his staff, our county legislators, the Seaford Board of Education, Harbor School employees, PTA, and more specifically, the Harbor School parents who were the movers and shakers.”
Seaford Board of Education President Brian Fagan said, “This has been a passion for this board for quite some time. We worked with our Central Administration as well as the community and of course elected officials to keep this on the radar. We were pleased to learn that because we maintained the plans and renewed the permits for this project and the strong efforts of our community, we were able to help make this a reality. The entire Board of Education expresses their gratitude to our administration, district parents, and our elected officials, especially Mr. Mangano and Nassau County for making this commitment.”
A long time coming
While congestion at the school has been a problem for nearly 30 years, the district most recently sought voter approval in May 2011 for a bond referendum that called for nearly $600,000 in bond funds to be used for the construction of the access driveway, but residents voted it down because they believed it is not the responsibility of school tax dollars to pay for this type of project since it would run on county land, according to Superintendent Conboy. However, the district never lost sight of the goal of making the access driveway a reality and at the October school board meeting Superintendent Conboy said he had met with state Senator Charles Fuschillo, Nassau Legislator David Denenberg and county Public Works Superintendent Mike Martino, after recent local coverage of the issue.
Meanwhile, Legislator Denenberg wrote to County Executive Mangano to request an amendment to the 2013 Capital Budget for Nassau County to include $650,000 for the construction of the access road. Additionally he asked Jonathan Kaiman, Special New York state advisor for Long Island Storm Recovery, if the state will reimburse Nassau County for the project as part of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program in the Seaford- Wantagh area.
“I am proud that the Democratic caucus joined with me to fight and get this project included in Nassau’s capital budget. To wait for NY Rising funding, if they come, would just have been more delay. This vital project for the Seaford area has been stalled long enough and we’re glad to see its finally getting done. It’s a win for everyone,” said Mr. Denenberg.
Legislator Dennis Dunne, whose district includes south Seaford through January, has been a long time advocate of a secondary access road even attempting to get a temporary bridge built to provide access from the school to Cedar Street. “Ten years I’ve been working on this. It could be scary if someone needed to get out of there in an emergency,”said Legislator Dunne. “I brought everyone down there – federal, state and town officials. But we finally broke the ice with these petitions. I hand- delivered the signatures to Ed [Mangano]. He looked at it and he said, ‘okay let’s do this,” he said. “I’m just delighted.”