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Town’s Bond Hearing for Waste Water Treatment Upgrade

Tuesday, Nov. 17 at Town Hall

The multi-year struggle to decide on the best approach to do the required upgrades for sewage treatment for much of the peninsula will culminate in a vote by the Town of North Hempstead Council on Nov. 17. A super majority vote is required for passage of a bond.

Even though the idea of diverting sewage to Nassau County’s Cedar Creek facility was eventually rejected for a host of reasons, it was, as environmentalist Julian Kane called it, “a vampire that just wouldn’t die no matter how many times you stabbed it in the heart.”

Proponents of diversion cited an estimate of $20 million to divert to Cedar Creek over and over again even though years went by and construction costs went up.

New information has now come to light that gives more solid information about what diversion might have cost.

The Record obtained copies of bids that were recently received and approved for the diversion of sewage from Cedarhurst and Lawrence to existing receptors at Inwood that link up to Bay Park, the county’s other major sewage treatment facility. The low bids for the job totaled $19.7 million in hard costs, a million dollars over the engineers’ estimate.

The south shore diversion requires about 2 miles of piping, whereas a diversion from Great Neck would have run 6.2 miles to a receptor at Glen Cove Road and the Long Island Expressway. The diversion from Cedarhurst is gravity fed, meaning that pumping stations would not be needed. That portion of the project is less expensive than the Lawrence section which requires a forced main. Any diversion from Great Neck would have required forced mains and pumping stations all along the way. It should be noted that the Water Pollution Control District’s estimating consultant reported that diversion would cost around $60 million. At the time, that estimate was disputed. Now it appears that that estimate may have been more on target than acknowledged.

The Record called Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman who commented, “This is the kind of hard data we have been needing to give us a clearer comparison of costs…these are current, real costs for work in Nassau County.” He indicated that he would be asking the county department of public works for more details about the cost comparisons.

Insiders have expressed concern that some council members do not favor bonding the combined sewage treatment plant, but the Village of Great Neck and the Great Neck Water Pollution District must meet the standards set by the Department of Environmental Conservation for reducing nitrogen in the effluent or face fines of up to $1 million a year for each entity.

Council members who are reported to oppose the bonding, either did not return our calls or had “no comment.”

Over months of negotiations, the village and the district hammered out an agreement to consolidate the two systems and build one new facility that would have low maintenance and operational costs and would use technology that would be safer for the environment. Initial estimates for costs have been whittled down to $50 million and a grant proposal, under Clean Water, Clean Air has been sent to the New York State Office of Environmental Conservation, which, if awarded, may also reduce the final cost of the upgrade.