Tom Imperatore, chairman of the Planning Board of Port Washington North, solicited the help of the village at the recent public meeting with regards to improving the Mill Pond and the streets surrounding it. He need look no further.
One of my many concerns regarding the scope and size of the proposed 41-acre development has to do with the short and long-term effects of storm water runoff, both during construction and after the development is completed. Specifically, I am worried about how Mill Pond will be affected. Over the years I have seen the pond look worse and worse. I believe one of the biggest problems facing the pond is water runoff from the roads and the areas surrounding it. With runoff comes toxic chemicals from automobiles, sediment from construction activities and careless application of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers that threaten the health of the receiving waterway and can kill fish and other aquatic life.
I have begun to look into how we can repair and improve Mill Pond. A multi-municipal effort is essential. That is because, as you might know, Mill Pond is owned by the Town of North Hempstead, located in the Village of Port Washington North, surrounded by streets owned by both Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead, and it surrounded by homes residing in Port North and Baxter Estates.
The state, under the Clean Water Act, has recently allocated the Town of North Hempstead thousands of dollars to study the pond and the roads that surround it. My concern is that their initial evaluation will be completed before this development has even started. Thus, if there are any significant adverse effects associated with this development regarding storm water runoff, it will have devastating repercussions for the ultimate revitalization of the Mill Pond, and for that matter, Manhasset Bay, which is already listed as an impaired water body on NY State DEC 303(d) list.
Which brings me to the DEC Storm Water Protection Program.
Phase I was concerned with industrial activity, large municipalities, and construction disturbing greater than five acres, which is applicable to this development. A new Phase II Storm Water Protection Program will soon be in force, with regulations that expand that scope to include many smaller municipalities including all villages in Port Washington, and includes all construction disturbing one to five acres. Currently, the onus to comply with the federally mandated program to control storm water runoff lies with the developer under Federal and State statutes. Soon, local villages will have to adopt a minimum of six measures with which all projects affected must adhere to.
Under the State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES), regulated small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems commonly referred to as (MS4s) will be recognized. Local municipalities, including Port Washington North, will have to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to begin the process of adopting regulations and guidelines within five years as mandated. Therefore, our village has the responsibility to create Best Management Practices (BMPs) to adhere to this new program. So the ramifications of this development with respect to storm water runoff will eventually be the direct responsibility of the Village of Port Washington North.
I have been in constant touch with state, county and town officials who are all aware of the dire shape of Mill Pond. I am cautiously optimistic that if, and I stress if, the preliminary study that is already under way finds that there is a feasible remedy to the pond's problems, we will get the funding necessary to repair it and make it a site to behold.
That is why it is so important that the Planning Board and the engineers it sought advice from, are correct in assuming that the Mill Pond Acres project will not have any adverse effect on the well-being of the Mill Pond. I hope they are right. The future of Mill Ponds depends on it.