Major projects in Oceanside, Island Park on tap for 2019

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By all accounts, 2019 should be a year in which officials in Oceanside and Island Park get things done. There are a number of projects on tap for both areas, which officials said they expect to either start or complete in the new year.

In Oceanside

One of the projects in Oceanside is Woodcrest Village Park, a $60 million, 230-unit rental apartment complex plan for Rockaway Avenue that Nassau County officials announced on Sept. 6.

Despite vocal opposition against the project from many residents, County Executive Laura Curran and county Industrial Development Agency Chairman Richard Kessel lauded the plan to build a four-story, 260,000-square-foot complex at the former site of a 105-unit Woodcrest rental complex that was damaged and then demolished after Hurricane Sandy.

Significant progress has been made toward starting the project, according to county spokeswoman Mary Studdert. “Nassau County Traffic Engineering is currently reviewing the traffic study provided by the developer,” she said. Studdert did not offer a timeline for when the re-view phase would end.

Detractors of the project have expressed concern that it would be twice the size of the old building and would exacerbate traffic issues in an area that is already heavily used. Officials, meanwhile, said it would be a boon for the local economy, would keep residents from moving out of the county and would have minimal impact on the school district.

In addition to the complex, the hamlet will also see major roadwork done in 2019, according to Town of Hempstead spokesman Michael Fricchione. He said that the town has accepted designs and reviewed and approved detention projects, which will see the installation of underground storm water containers and holding tanks that prevent polluted runoff from entering the water systems, as well as other green infrastructure projects to slow down and absorb the flow of rainfall by implementing more grassy areas and vegetation. The projects are slated for Moore, Fulton and Perry avenues, Hampton Road and Judith Lane. The work will begin in April or May, depending on weather conditions.

The town has also awarded a contract and is now reviewing, designing and drafting a drainage project for Tinker Drive, Lawson Boulevard, Foxhurst Road, Seiffort Court, 4th Street and Waukena Avenue, aimed at reducing flooding. Construction is tentatively scheduled for July, Fricchione said.

In addition, town officials plan to have several roads raised in the hamlet. The town has awarded contracts and has nearly completed all review, design and drafting of plans to raise Carrel Boulevard, Maxine Court, Cecelia Way, the eastern portion of Oceanside Road and Wright, Alice and Beatrice avenues. Construction on each of these roads is expected to begin in June.

The town has also awarded a contract and is in the review, draft and design phase to raise Royal and Morland avenues, Fir Place, Grove Place, Louis Place and Stanton Place, which is scheduled for September.

“Oceanside residents have suffered through much since Superstorm Sandy and finally deserve relief from issues relating to flooding and storm preparedness,” Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said. “The Town of Hempstead is focused on Oceanside like never before, and we are looking forward to delivering results for taxpayers by rebuilding stronger, smarter and safer.”

In Island Park

Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said his top priority for the village in 2019 is to complete the second phase of a three-part, $40 million drainage project, designed to strengthen areas that flood often during storms..

The project is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. In October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $5 million for the second phase of the plan, which will include the design and engineering for the construction of drain and tidal flex valve replacements throughout the village. The project will upgrade the municipal storm drainage system, including 42,000 feet of new storm sewers, tidal gates, subsurface storm water retention and 2,000 feet of upgraded bulkheading.

“This is an important project because of the inherent flooding within the village,” McGinty said. “We have rolled over a budget surplus of $1.1 million from Phase 1 because we came in under budget.”

The projects fall under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which enables officials to establish priorities aimed at increasing the state’s resiliency after a storm. The final engineering for the project should be completed by April 2020, and the total cost will not exceed $33.6 million, according to FEMA.

During Sandy, Island Park was inundated with six to eight feet of saltwater, which flooded many homes and businesses in the village and caused the schools, the firehouse, places of worship and Village Hall to close for weeks. Areas such as Francis Hegarty Elementary School also face issues with full-moon high tides, which at times cause flooding outside the doorway as students enter and leave the building.

McGinty said village officials have sent out a request for proposals for the design and engineering parts of the project. He said there was no deadline for when a contract would be put out to bid, but noted that he expected it to be fast-tracked. He added that a lot went into writing the RFP, including studies of specific drains in the village as well as anecdotal information collected from residents who have dealt with flooding over the years. McGinty said he expected the design phase to last three to six months and for construction to follow.

Flooding during Sandy also heavily damaged the Island Park firehouse, and McGinty said another project in 2019 would be the completion of the resiliency and hardening of the facility. The work will cost $1.5 million, McGinty said, and will be funded by FEMA and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. The project involves the resiliency and hardening of the second floor of the firehouse, which serves as the Emergency Management Center, and will include dry flood proofing all around the building. McGinty said the design phase is nearing completion, and he expected the project to be finished in about nine months once construction begins.

The Fire Department will also receive a new training center this year, which will be built behind the Island Park Department of Public Works headquarters, on the north end of the village. McGinty said firefighters have faced several challenges now that about 175 homes within the village have been raised after Sandy, and the center will focus on training them on different techniques to respond to emergencies at such residences.

“The raised homes have brought new challenges to our firefighters, and this will train them to address those challenges,” he said.

The project costs $330,000, the majority of which has been funded by the state and a grant secured by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky. It is likely to be completed in the spring.

Village officials are also working on a design for a new courtroom at Village Hall. The addition will be on the east side of the building, by Nassau Lane, and will replace three large trailers that officials now use for court proceedings in the Village Hall parking lot. There are also plans to add a Nassau County Police Department substation at the site of the old Village Hall, which was demolished in 2015 after being damaged by Sandy.

Outside of the village, the Town of Hempstead is also contemplating a proposal from the Arlington, Va.-based AvalonBay Communities to construct a a $90 million, 172-unit luxury apartment complex at the site of the former Harbor Isle petroleum facility in Island Park.

The complex would be built after a decade-long controversy about developing the site. The lot was found to have contaminated soil and groundwater from when it was a petroleum facility. The town’s Industrial Development Agency approved a preliminary resolution for the 11.6-acre lot on Sept. 18, granting tax-relief measures for AvalonBay Communities’ planned development.