Freeport as a coastal village — as residents well know — is prone to flooding when experiencing heavy rain. As such, measures must be taken in order to lessen the effects of harsh weather and flooding on village residents and to prevent potential damage as the result of floods. The way that is done is through catch basins.
A catch basin — or a “stormwater catchment” — is a surface-level structure designed to collect rainwater or stormwater runoff. It often has a grate or cover that allows water to flow easily into an underwater reservoir. The purpose of the catch-basin is to prevent flooding by collecting and diverting surface water away from streets and structures.
Freeport has had a catch-basin system for quite some time. But the system had problems. Often some small impediment, like a beer can or a rock, would get stuck in the check valve, which was designed to let only water into the basin . And because the valve was only accessible from the water, the Department of Public Works would have to wait until low-tide to take a boat out onto the water to even see what the issue was, let alone to fix it.
Enter Mayor Robert Kennedy. With the mayor’s background in engineering — he attended trade school and learned about how engineering systems worked during his time in the navy, which he used to start a mechanical contracting and engineering system — the problems of the faulty basins struck him not as an inevitable reality to be endured but as a problem to be solved. So he got to work and designed a new system.
“The current system implements a back flow check valve in a new oversized catch basin, which allows for the replacement of a defective check valve to be done from the street, rather than taking a boat out onto the bay,” said the mayor. “These oversized catch basins now incorporate a series of sewer ejector pumps that allow water in the streets to be pumped around the check valves and back into the bay at high tides.”
“Before, if it was high tide, you couldn’t even tell that it was leaking,” Mayor Kennedy continued. Now, however, one can inspect the valve right from the paved street in which it was installed to see if it’s defective.
The new catch basins were put on Hudson and Guy Lombardo avenues, which together make up the perimeter of the peninsula that borders the outlet to the bay of Freeport. Altogether, there are six of these catch basins.
There are plans for even more catch basin systems to be installed, along Guy Lombardo and South Long Beach avenue on the other peninsula. These will number approximately seven to eight and will stretch from Front Street to Richmond Street.
The mayor emphasized that however effective this new system is in preventing nuisance flooding, it still won’t suffice to prevent flooding in situations where water goes over the bulkheads. In order to do that the help of Senator Schumer will be required to install surge barrier gates at the Jones and Reynolds Channels inlets to protect all of Nassau County.
The mayor has already spoken with the county executive about this issue, who he says is in favor of the measure. Such an installation would be a federal-state joint project, as the relevant property belongs to New York State and the federal government.
“That’s the only way we’re going to prevent future flooding of Nassau County,” said the mayor.