Written by Rich Forestano Friday, 11 January 2013 00:00
Thomas Festa couldn’t believe his eyes. He lost his spot to take a stroll with his dog on Westbury Avenue…but he knows the end result will be worth it.
The Carle Place resident won’t have to worry about his living room turning into the Nile River during a bad storm anymore. A flood remediation project decades in the making is picking up steam, with projects being awarded, i’s dotted, t’s crossed and shovels finally in the ground.
The Town of North Hempstead held its groundbreaking ceremony for its portion of the Bruce Terrace Flood Project on Jan. 3, which will reportedly lessen the blow to low-lying areas during heavy rainfall.
Festa was more than pleased with the sight of bulldozers clearing the way for the town’s part of the flood plan. He bought his home in 1986.
“The first owner told me that there’s some flooding on the block, but that the house never flooded,” he said. “About four or five years ago it rained and my garage flooded. Had it rained 10 more minutes, our house would have flooded. Sure enough the next year, it rained that 10 extra minutes and the whole house was flooded.”
One month after Festa fixed the house, Mother Nature wrung a sopping wet towel on his street once again.
“We anticipate that it’s going to make a great difference in the people’s lives who live in this area,” Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman said. “It’s a testament to the many layers of government that we have working together.”
North Hempstead will provide drainage improvements, installing new catch basins and pipes on three to four streets near the Mineola/Carle Place border. The town will build a recharge basin on Mineola land located north of Westbury Avenue.
“This project could not happen without [Mineola],” Kaiman stated. “In many respects, taking the lead, the village has been dealing with these issues on a much broader scale.”
Village Public Works Superintendent Tom Rini met with town contractor Tri-State Paving LLC and North Hempstead officials concerning the property on the border of Mineola on Dec. 24. The Carle Place Water District has a water line that runs through the property and Mineola will work with the district so the line will not be damaged.
“It’s happening,” Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss said. “Seeing is believing. Although this is one part of the physical aspect of it, it’s been going on for months, years. We’ve been prepping for this for months on the south side of Westbury Avenue. It’s great that this is finally happening.”
Mineola resident Michelle Cerro was floored by the plan, and said that up to two or three inches of rain in a one-hour period results in flooding on streets and in basements in Mineola.
“Carle Place is worse off,” she said. “They are Levitt homes. The water fills their first floors. It goes into their bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen cabinets. It takes quite a bit longer for the water to drain over there.”
The three municipalities received $800,000 each in state aid to complete the project. Originally, the state granted $2.4 million solely to North Hempstead, but the funds were vacated after a seat change in the 7th Senate District.
Senator Jack Martins had the grants restored in 2011. The Mineola American exclusively reported on Aug. 29 that the project would be completed in the spring.
“It’s a very complicated project,” Martins said. “It really came together when we were able to break it up into three different pieces, allowing the village to do their piece, the county to do their piece and the town to do theirs. Here we are literally a year and a half later, designed, shovel in the ground, with all three projects ready to go.”
Mineola will install two new drainage manholes and four new catch basins, as well as remove approximately 300 feet of existing 18-inch drainage pipe. The pipe will be replaced with a new 30-inch drainage pipe on Bruce Terrace.
The village will replace an existing 36-inch drainage pipe in the village’s south recharge basin with a 48-inch pipe. The village will demolish an existing manhole, which will be replaced by a new 8-foot diameter manhole and 48-inch headwall.
New catch basins will be installed, with five 6-foot manholes and 1,420 feet of 18- or 24-inch drainage pipe on Liberty Avenue with a new outfall structure into the Mineola catch basin to provide storm water relief to East Second Street.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Councilwoman Viviana Russell said. “We’ve been talking about this for 18 months. Residents have been dealing with this for the past 50 years.”
The Nassau Interim Finance Authority approved the county’s funding for the project according to Nassau County Legislator Rich Nicolello. He said the bidding process is just days away from starting.
“One of the first pieces of correspondence I received at the legislature was a letter from the Santoro family on Fairfield Avenue about this flooding issue,” Nicolello stated. “That goes back to 1996. At the time, studies had been done before that so we’re talking about a problem that’s decades old.”
The county will install two new catch basins and five new manholes and 1,715 feet of 36- or 48-inch bypass pipes on Sheridan Boulevard from Raff Avenue, crossing Westbury Avenue and entering Mineola’s recharge basin.