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Sea Cliff’s sewer project is under way

Hoping to rid downtown Sea Cliff of cesspools

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After a decade of planning, a project to connect the Sea Cliff Avenue sewer line to other streets in downtown Sea Cliff, and some closer to Hempstead Harbor, began last week.

Village Administrator Bruce Kennedy said he has pushed to connect village properties with cesspools to sewer lines as far back as 2009, when he was mayor.

Mayor Edward Lieberman said the village re-ceived funding to lay the Sea Cliff Avenue sewer line six years ago, but there wasn’t enough money to connect the line to homes or businesses. That changed in the summer of 2018, when the village received $4 million in bonds from Nassau County and $3 million in state grants.

Sea Cliff’s waste has been handled by cesspools since the turn of the 20th century, and some working cesspools are over 50 years old. “It’s about time that Sea Cliff stepped into the 21st century and started disposing its sanitary waste in an environmentally sound way,” Kennedy said.

Lieberman said that the West Babylon-based construction company Araz Industries is undertaking the work, which has already started on Summit Avenue. He said the sewer line will stretch from Sea Cliff Avenue down Prospect and Carpenter avenues, linking up to the Boulevard, a street that runs parallel to the village boardwalk, before picking up at Shore Road on its way to the sewage treatment plant in Glen Cove.

The village had meant to start on Prospect and Carpenter avenues before Summit, Kennedy said, but existing gas and water lines have to be realigned first. Roslyn Avenue, he said, would also be a focus of the initial project. He added that he hoped to have these initial lines operational by the end of the summer.

Side streets such as Fairview Place, 8th Avenue and 12th Avenue would be next, Kennedy said, and 7th Avenue and Maple Avenue may be done around the same time as well.

Officials said one of the biggest advantages of the sewer line in downtown Sea Cliff would be the ability to attract more businesses to the area. Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, whom Kennedy and Lieberman said has been instrumental in the process from the beginning, said the current cesspool system limits what kinds of businesses can come into Sea Cliff. This is particularly true of restaurants, she said, because cesspools can cut the legal capacity of people in restaurants substantially.

Lieberman said some homes close to the area would also be able to link up to the sewer lines. He and Kennedy both said the goal is to have the entire village connected to sewers, although there is no timeline for a project of that magnitude.

“We know that all of this may be an inconvenience for residents with regard to the construction and the roadways being infringed upon,” he said, “but we know in the long run this will be an exceptional advantage to not only the downtown businesses but those residents who are able to connect to this time and will serve as a map to future sewer lines throughout the village.”

There are environmental benefits to the project as well, particularly in regard to Hempstead Harbor. Carol DiPaolo, executive director of the Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor, said the density of the central portion of the village and the aging properties of the existing cesspools prevent them from functioning properly.

This, DiPaolo said, can cause runoff to seep out, posing a significant threat to the harbor and its surrounding areas. She said the sewer lines should help a great deal in mitigating this issue.

“If you have functioning systems that are now going to the sewage treatment plant,” DiPaolo said, “you’re avoiding any other failures that could happen otherwise.”

Officials said the project has served as something of a bright spot during the troubles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m very happy to see that despite what’s going on this project, which has been approved and funded is finally coming to fruition” Lieberman said. “It really is a testament to prior administrations who have desired sewers for our village, and I’m specifically gratified personally that, through all the hard work of the individuals involved, this is now a reality.”