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Glen Head retaining wall still not fixed

Nassau DPW to start repairs on wall

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Nothing has been done to fix a crumbling retaining wall on Glen Cove Avenue in the nearly six months since the Herald Gazette first reported on it. That may be about to change.

No one was sure whether the Town of Oyster Bay or Nassau County owned the wall. Since June, the county has officially claimed ownership of it and said it would repair it at a cost of more than $1.5 million. Nearby residents, business owners and school officials, however, said they would like it fixed sooner rather than later, because they believe it presents a potential hazard for drivers and pedestrians on one of the community’s busier thoroughfares.

The wall, between Plymouth Drive North and Plymouth Drive South, on the east side of Glen Cove Avenue, is cracked in several spots, and over the years, pieces of its foundation have littered the road below. On top of the wall is a sloping pedestrian path often used by students walking to and from the middle and high schools, which are just down the street. There is no shoulder or sidewalk separating cars headed north on Glen Cove Avenue from the wall, and homes on Falmouth Lane in Glen Knolls — whose properties back up to the pedestrian path — could be structurally compromised if the wall were to collapse.

Kenneth Arnold, commissioner of the County Department of Public Works, said it is bringing in a consulting firm to determine the specifics and scope of the repairs. Arnold said that temporary work is needed to stop further deterioration and to buy time for long-term repairs. He expected that work to be done next year, he said, at which time long-term repair plans and construction documents would be ready for bid.

Two local firms have responded to the task order, and the selection is going through the approval process. Arnold has estimated the project’s design cost to be roughly $125,000.

Weather has played a large role in the wall’s decay. George Pombar, president of the Glen Head-Glenwood Civic Council, said he was afraid of what may happen if the wall is not repaired soon.

“Unfortunately, we’ve become used to the fact that this is going to take very long,” Pombar said, “and our fear is that if the storms continue, then the wall could collapse.”

Anna Grella, co-owner of Nova Hair Salon in the shopping center across Glen Cove Avenue, said it was a shame that no government agency had come to fix a wall that had been crumbling for so long. While it has not directedly affected her business, Grella said she worried about the safety of her customers and others who drive by.

“If something breaks at my house, it’s my responsibility,” Grella said. “Whoever owns that wall should fix it.”

Because the path atop the wall is used regularly by the middle and high school students, parents and district officials expressed concern about the potential safety issues. Lisa Albanese, co-president of the North Shore High School Parent-Teacher Organization, said the structure seems like it could pose a safety hazard, although she has not heard about anyone being affected to date. District Superintendent Dr. Peter Giarrizzo said he was willing to work with the county to fix the wall.

“It would be really bad if it did fall apart,” said Nicole Schneider, a North Shore High senior who crosses over the wall regularly. “It’s been there for a while, and I think that people should definitely take measures to fix it.”

Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, an Independent from Woodbury, said he would do all he could to ensure that the wall is safe for the community.

“When it comes to a crucial piece of infrastructure that pertains to public safety like this wall,” Lafazan said, “it’s my job as a legislator [to ensure] that taxpayers get high-quality work delivered and that our Department of Public Works delivers that work on time. I’ll be watching over it like a hawk.”

Alyssa Seidman contributed to this story.