Even glimmers of possibilities for stimulus money have built some symbolic bridges in moving forward with the sewage treatment plant upgrades on East Shore Road.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman, council members, and the Mayors' Advisory Committee met to deal with the sewer plant combination issues. Pictured (l. to r.): on the podium, Thomaston Mayor Robert Stern, Town Councilwoman Kitty Poons, Kensington Mayor Susan Lopatkin, Supervisor Kaiman, Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman, Town Councilwoman Lee Seeman, and Plaza Mayor Jean Celender; seated below, WPCD commissioners Deena Lesser, Jane Rebuhn, and Jerry Landsberg.
On Thursday, April 16, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman presided over a two-hour meeting of not only the public officials involved in overseeing the combined sewage treatment plant upgrades, but a large group of engineering, legal and environmental consultants including some recently hired by the town to advise about the process. We counted 33 people in attendance, not including the press.
Mr. Kaiman opened the meeting by stating that there was a real and growing concern that getting the approvals, variances and permits from the various agencies involved might be grindingly slow and might miss out on receiving stimulus money. He said, "It (the project) can't be shovel ready unless it is revived, designed, permitted and bid out within a few months...is that reasonable?" He also added that he believed that the information about the project process was not being fully explained and that he felt "we're going in circles. That is why I have all of you at the table today...mistakes may have been made and sometimes things have gotten combative, but there's no other way to resolve it."
A number of engineers who had not attended previous meetings were in attendance and quite a few rose to explain that based on their experiences with other projects, it is reasonable to think that deadlines can be met, approvals gained, and revisions made if need be.
There was a lengthy explanation given about the various alternatives to the design being proposed. One of the requirements for an environmental assessment is to fully examine the alternatives and explain the advantages of the one chosen. The engineers that were present from the various firms believe that the alternatives are not as effective, cost efficient or environmentally sound as the one proposed.
In the next month, it will become clearer as to whether or not the Department of Environmental Conservation agrees with the assessments of the consultants.
By the end of the meeting, there was a commitment from the town to facilitate the communication between the DEC and the Water Pollution Control District and the experts were talking to the other experts and exchanging business cards. It appeared that there was less confusion about some of the issues and a heightened resolve to get the job done.