Legislator Dennis Dunne looks over the sump with Department of Public Works Engineer Kenneth Arnold. (Photo by Donald Wansor)
Legislator Dennis Dunne, a Levittown resident, took his role as a local politician to a new level last week when he took it upon himself to get involved in a rescue effort that saved approximately 10,000 carp and goldfish from dying when the sump on Cornflower Road and Jerusalem Avenue was drained.
According to Dunne this story began when some residents near the sump complained about the rodents and snakes in the area. Dunne's office investigated and responded immediately by draining the sump. Dunne then got a call from a constituent on Friday, Dec. 4, telling him that there were over 10,000 carp and goldfish, between three and 12 inches long at the sump, dying.
Dunne called the Department of Public Works and asked them to have someone there to take charge of the situation by noon that day. When told that the person who would handle a situation like that would not be in until Monday, Dunne responded, "They won't be alive on Monday. I want somebody there by noon today." An industrial engineer from the Nassau County Department of Public Works went down with a crew of about five people who had nets and fishing tubs to keep the fish alive. The fish, and approximately 2,000 tadpoles and bullfrogs that were also there, were then placed in water-carrying trucks and brought to sumps in Herricks and other locations in Levittown. Dunne personally went down to supervise the rescue effort.
According to Dunne he was very proud to be part of government taking care of this. He added, "It's wildlife and to preserve wildlife is necessary. It is sinful that the fish just die." The fish aid the sumps because they keep the water fresh and eat the mosquitoes that are often problematic in sump areas.
In many cases, when sumps are drained, the fish are left to die. Dunne stated, "That won't happen in my district." He said he was very pleased to get the call from the constituent and to be made aware of the situation so that the fish could be saved.
This is the first time in 30 years that this sump has been drained. What they plan to do with the sump is to plow all the sand and dirt to one side and let it dry out and then respread it so drainage would be better. This will make the streets drain better and eliminate the warehousing of rodents.
Dunne said that he only wished he were able to get some students from a local school down to the sump to see the rescue effort but added that for safety reasons it was better not to have children down there. One of the rescue workers got stuck in the mud up to his thigh and had to be helped out. Draining the sump will also make it safer. Dunne says this is important because children do happen into the sump for one reason or another. Children have also been known to use the sump for ice-skating and to play on the ice and according to Dunne a child fell through the ice about 15 years ago. He said, "I was there and watched them pull the poor young lad's body from under the ice and it was such a sad thing and I want to make sure that it doesn't happen again." Dunne added, "There is no way you can prevent kids from skating on ice or playing on top of ice but maybe by draining the sump and keeping the water at a certain level it might help."
It took approximately two weeks to drain the sump and another week to get all of the fish out. According to Dunne, "It was a very educational experience. It was a nice thing to do and the right thing to do."