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Civics urge action on retaining wall in Glen Head

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Members of the Glen Knolls/Glen Head Estates Civic Association are urging the Nassau County Department of Public Works to repair a retaining wall along Glen Cove Avenue that appears to be deteriorating. The wall, located between Plymouth Drive North and Plymouth Drive South on the east side of the thoroughfare — a county road — is cracked in several areas, and over the years pieces of its foundation have cluttered the road below.

Nassau County spokesperson Christine Geed said that the county is currently investigating exactly who owns the retaining wall, and if it is, in fact, the county’s responsibility to maintain. “Once the ownership status is resolved, the county will be in a better position to determine the responsibility of repairs and maintenance,” she said in a statement to the Herald Gazette.

On top of the retaining wall is a sloping pedestrian path often used by students walking to and from the middle and high schools, located just down the street. There is no shoulder or barrier separating the cars driving north on Glen Cove Avenue from the wall, and residents that live on Falmouth Lane in Glen Knolls — whose properties back up to the pedestrian path — could have their homes compromised if the wall were to collapse.

Missa Plosky lives in one of the six houses on Falmouth Lane. She has lived in the Glen Knolls community for six years, and said the state of the wall has only gotten worse. “One of my neighbors brought the crumbling stonework to my attention a couple of years ago,” she said. “Now the wall seems to be buckling, and at any moment it could fall into the street.”

Craig Clausen is the president of the Glen Knolls/Glen Head Estates Civic Association. In February he connected with Jared Fischedick, a representative from the County Executive’s office, to alert the county to the situation and have the wall repaired. Clausen first asked for a status update on the wall in an email dated April 15, 2019.

In an email dated May 14, 2019, Clausen asked Fischedick to “advocate with your Department of Highways so they can address the ‘crumbling’ retaining wall . . . Surely we do not want to see the wall compromised and some motorist or pedestrian injured. The sub-section of the wall is precarious, at best.”

The two have mainly corresponded via phone over the past five months, Clausen said. He admits Fischedick has been cooperative, but Clausen fears his request has “fallen down the proverbial ‘rabbit hole.’”

“This needs to be addressed because a good portion of the wall is compromised,” Clausen said. He noted that one section of the wall has had multiple stones break off from the foundation, creating a large, gaping hole there. “It almost looks like a cavity.”

Kevin Boris, of Sea Cliff, responded to a Facebook post by the Herald Gazette that asked for the public’s input on the wall. Boris worked as an engineer for the county’s Department of Public Works over 30 years ago. He said a letter was sent to then County Executive Thomas Gulotta, which indicated that two rocks had broken off from the bottom of the wall and onto Glen Cove Avenue. Boris personally investigated the complaint.

“I reported back on the condition [and] requested that Nassau County Public Works Road Maintenance repair it,” he wrote. “They repaired it, and a decision was made . . . that a new wall would be built as part of a capital project in the near future.”

But Boris said that replacing the wall in its entirety was no simple task. “At that time all the utilities had to be involved because there are poles that need to be replaced, along with a fire hydrant and water main,” he explained. “It was suspected that some or all the stone movement was due to water buildup behind [the wall] from groundwater, or possibly from a cesspool or lawn irrigation system. But nothing was ever followed up on since . . . there were no more complaints.”

Allstate agent Celeste Gullo, of Glen Cove, also commented on the Herald Gazette’s Facebook post. She said that retaining walls are not covered by insurance, and that whoever owns the wall could be found negligent if it were to collapse and cause property damage, or worse, injury.

“Insurance is for things that happen sudden[ly] and accidentally, not for anything that occurs over a period of time,” she wrote. “This case may be on public property where the town could be found negligent.”

Plosky urged the county to fix the wall, and suggested that construction take place over the summer to avoid the high volume of traffic that exists on the roadway when school is in session.

Clausen acknowledged that replacing the wall would involve major construction, but also said municipalities should be proactive in responding to the requests of their constituents. “That wall is gonna come down some day,” he said. “Tell us how you’re going to get it done and get it fixed.”