After 40 years of "sewer suffering," Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi and Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto were joined by Nassau County Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro, Oyster Bay Town Councilwoman Elizabeth Faughnan, New York State Senator Carl Marcellino and area residents to announce the beginning of construction on a new sewage collection system for the Locust Valley community known as The Birches.
Nassau County Legislator Diane Yatauro, (whose constituency includes Locust Valley) is pictured with State Senator Carl Marcellino, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto, Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, The Birches homeowners, Nassau County Public Works staff and Novelli Construction workers at the groundbreaking of a new sewage collection system for the Locust Valley community known as The Birches.
"This is an excellent solution to this 40-year problem, and a great example of two different governments, Nassau County and the Town of Oyster Bay, working together, said Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi. "This is really a win-win situation for everyone. Not only will the quality of life improve for these residents but this project also means that waste materials will not end up in our local waterways, so we'll be helping the environment."
Presiding Officer Diane Yatauro added, "Today marks a new beginning for residents in this community. We begin the long anticipated project, which will soon end decades of environmental hazard and neighborhood inconvenience. I am proud to be a part of the solution that rescued this community from a nightmare."
The county and town have joined together to develop a plan to share the $13.2 million cost that will finally solve the decades-long problem of flooding in the Birches neighborhood.
This project is eligible for ARRA environmental stimulus funding through the NYS Environmental Facilities Corp. It is anticipated that this project will receive a low interest loan as well as partial loan forgiveness up to 50 percent. Both the county and the town are submitting applications for their share of the project costs. A $540,000 grant from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will also help pay for the project.
Sewage disposal has been a chronic problem in the 49-home Birches community since it was developed in the 1960s because it is located in an area with a high water table, and flooding is a common occurrence each time it rains. Cesspool overflow is currently emptied into an overworked storm water drainage system, which eventually discharges into Mill Neck Creek. In 1983, a chlorination tank was installed to reduce bacteria contamination to the creek, but the treated wastewater does not meet NYSDEC standards.
"I know many residents, and some of us in government, wondered if we would ever see this day," said Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto. "This joint project between the Town of Oyster Bay and Nassau County underscores what can be accomplished when government cuts through the political and bureaucratic maze to work together with residents for a common cause, in this case a problem that has been plaguing The Birches for 40 years. I know the residents are looking forward to the major improvement the new roads, sidewalks and drainage, not to mention the new sewer system, will make to their neighborhood and to their overall quality of life and health. The benefit to the environment can't be understated because this project will improve water quality in Mill Neck Creek and beyond."
Last year, the Nassau County Department of Public Works took over operation at the Glen Cove Sewage Treatment Plant, which will now allow for the re-routing of wastewater for treatment to Glen Cove. This will eliminate the discharge of treated water into Mill Neck Creek, and will ensure that the creek's water quality remains high.
The improvements of existing facilities include the planning, design and construction of a sanitary sewage collection system, pumping station, sewage force main, storm water conveyance system, and roadway enhancements. The new pumping station, which will be designed with community input, will be constructed on a county-owned lot that already houses the chlorine contact chamber. Construction of the new collection and storm drain system that is currently buried beneath local roadways is scheduled to begin today.
Oyster Bay Councilwoman Elizabeth Faughnan said, "As a town councilwoman, I enjoy helping residents all across the town with various issues. Today is extra special, though, because I am a lifelong resident of Locust Valley and now I've been able to literally help my neighbors rid themselves of a problem that has been impacting their health and their daily lives in ways the rest of us can only imagine. This is truly a great day for residents of The Birches, who now can see a light at the end of what has been a very long and very dark tunnel. I applaud everyone involved, particularly Supervisor Venditto and County Executive Suozzi, for their roles in developing a creative and effective solution to this difficult problem."
State Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine added, "It is an important quality of life issue for the residents of The Birches to have good, clean water and working sewers, a 40-year-old problem. In fact, the DEC has been focused on contamination coming from The Birches since 1981. I am happy that Nassau County and the Town of Oyster Bay have partnered to improve conditions and bring relief to homeowners in the neighborhood."
Senator Carl L. Marcellino summed it up saying, "Sewer projects don't grab headlines very often, but the Birches project is important because this day marks the completion of a long road to improving the quality of life for the residents in this Locust Valley community and the beginning of the cleanup of Mill Neck Creek. This project is a great example of how all levels of government can achieve a goal that benefits the public and the environment."