Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 20 May 2011 00:00
Residents from both Carle Place and Mineola poured into the May 11 Carle Place Civic Association meeting in the high school library to discuss the decades-old flooding problem in both areas.
The meeting featured Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Viviana Russell and Supervisor Jon Kaiman, NYS Senator and former Mineola Mayor Jack Martins, Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicollelo and current Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss. Department of public works representatives from both the town and county were also present.
Martins even went as far as saying a joint venture such of this magnitude has “never been done before.”
Carle Place residents Karen and Carl Santoro, after seeing the collective strength of the community in the local BOCES property sale issue, brought the flooding issue to the attention of the Civic Association.
“In 1979 we bought a lovely home in Carle Place, not realizing it came with a major flooding problem,” the couple noted in a handout for attendees, which also provided visual evidence of the flood damage in their home.
The Santoros said that flooding doesn’t just put a few inches of water in their basement, but destroys cars on the street before entering the first floor of their home – ultimately leaving up to 18 inches of water. They said the issue is now a problem for over 20 homes in the area.
Legislator Nicollelo, who organized the meeting, said that progress was made in the past year, but a major deterrent arose when the original funding from the state was lost.
“Late last year, the Democratic Senate Majority withdrew the $2.4 million that had been allocated by Senator Johnson, so that brought things to a screeching halt,” said Nicollelo.
“We were able to get the grant restored, which I guess gives somewhat of a green light for the process to move forward. I’m not saying that the $2.4 million is going to cover the entire cost, but it is a good portion of it. There are so many variables when they start building.
“The fact that you’re looking at the state, the county, the town and the village are working together to actually make something happen, I think it’s a great opportunity to show that different levels of government can work together and make something positive happen – if only for once and for the first time,” said Senator Martins.
Martins said although the engineers and the developers may come across several issues – including not knowing what lies underground, which renders them unable to give an estimated cost beforehand – the most important aspect is having the commitment “across the board, regardless of what the cost is, that this issue be resolved now as it has gone on long enough.”
A county department of public works representative explained how flooding is a result of not only excess rain but also timing, citing how the limited drainage capacity of Sheridan Boulevard resulted in water running across to Carle Place’s Bruce Terrace. He said that if that water can be intercepted and diverted to the recharge basin (sump), the delay would help alleviate some of the problem; however, the basin needs to be improved in order to handle such a high volume of water.
He said the final portion of the project, which is the most expensive and biggest unknown given the uncertainty of the soil quality, is digging the recharge basin.
TNH Supervisor Jon Kaiman explained how the town is, theoretically, the recipient of the grant but the question is ultimately how the project will be handled at each level of government and who will be responsible for long-term maintenance.
“The village and the town need to have an understanding of who’s going to play what role,” said Kaiman.
Residents asked a number of questions, including inquiries about a possible timeline and lead project manager.
Kaiman said an inter-municipal agreement (IMA) still needs to be signed by the three parties in order to move forward with exact project specifications and estimated that construction could begin within two years, depending on how long it takes for the grant to process.
He went on to say how the project would take an “unprecedented amount of cooperation” between the different layers of government, but residents, including Karen Santoro, seemed content with the effort from the various officials at the meeting.
“Finally someone’s listening,” she said.