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Island Park takes step toward storm resiliency

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As part of an ongoing attempt to mitigate storm damage village-wide, the Island Park Department of Public Works installed a tidal flex valve at Suffolk and Warwick roads, near Harbor Isle Bridge, on Sept. 17.

The valve is designed to help keep bay water out of the storm drain system, which is a vital step toward storm resiliency, according to Mayor Michael McGinty.

“We are moving forward with our drainage improvement project to mitigate the flooding issues in the village,” he said. “At present, we are installing a tidal flex valve as a pilot project toward that goal. Our goal is to complete the emergency management center resiliency hardening project that will restore our Emergency Management Center.”

The project comes as Island Park continues a three-part, $40 million mitigation project, which will include an overhaul of the village’s storm drainage system and municipal bulkheads. It is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.

The overall project will feature an upgraded 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.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in the summer of 2016 for $1.8 million, and Phase 2, for which FEMA awarded the village $5 million, began in October 2018. The second phase is 60 percent into the design and engineering stage and is set for completion at the end of 2020. The projects fall under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which enables officials to focus on increasing the state’s storm resiliency. During Hurricane Sandy, Island Park was inundated with six to eight feet of seawater, 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.

The first stage of the project involved the exploration and cleaning of the storm drains around the elementary school and Suffolk Road. The main delays for the project’s second phase stemmed from a FEMA-mandated cost-benefit analysis that village officials needed to provide to the DHSES before moving forward, which included documentation proving why the project was necessary, with paperwork sent back and forth between village officials and the DHSES.

McGinty said that, once completed, the projects would go a long way toward revitalizing and protecting Island Park.

“Our shared goals will ensure Island Park’s renaissance, recovery and revitalization,” McGinty said. “Island Parkers are tough. Together, nothing can stop our progress.”