Over six years after Hurricane Sandy, some Island Park residents are saying that neither local flood control measures nor driving conditions have improved.
Representatives of the Town of Hempstead addressed road and drainage issues at the Island Park Civic Association’s March 12 meeting. The organization invited various local elected officials to attend and offer updates on upcoming road and infrastructure projects.
“There have been all these studies, and no actual work since the storm,” said Patricia Ambrosia, president of the civic association. “We have to start holding our officials, who we elected to represent us, accountable.”
Four representatives, from the offices of State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, Town Councilman Anthony D’Esposito and U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice, attended the meeting. County Legislator Denise Ford could not attend because she was in the audience at County Executive Laura Curran’s State of the County address the same night, but left a memo with updates for residents. Village Mayor Michael McGinty was also not in attendance.
The Q&A ran for about an hour, with town Building Inspector Vincent Albert and Joseph Davenport, executive assistant for infrastructure, offering updates on upcoming projects.
Road repairs in Barnum Isle and Harbor Isle are slated to begin this fall, the town representatives said. Roads in these areas will also be repaved beginning in early 2020. The $7.3 million project will include storm drain repairs, which would mitigate flooding, Davenport said. Town officials scheduled a presentation on the project for March 28 at 7 p.m. at the Island Park Public Library.
Residents raised concerns about the conditions of California Place South, Island Parkway and Suffolk, Warwick, Lancaster and Redfield roads. Some of these belong to the county or village, so no updates were discussed. But the civic association encouraged residents to continue attending town and village board meetings.
The village portion of Island Park is set to enter the second phase of a three-part, $40 million drainage project, designed to strengthen areas that flood often during storms. The project is being funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is administered by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. In October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $5 million for the second phase of the plan, which will include the design and engineering for the construction of drain and tidal flex valve replacements throughout the village. The project will upgrade the municipal storm drainage system, and include 42,000 feet of new storm sewers, tidal gates, subsurface storm water retention and 2,000 feet of upgraded bulkheading.
The projects fall under FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which enables officials to prioritize increasing the state’s resiliency after a storm. The final engineering for the project should be completed by April 2020, and the total cost will not exceed $33.6 million, according to FEMA.
“This is an important project because of the inherent flooding within the village,” McGinty told the Herald in January. “We have rolled over a budget surplus of $1.1 million from Phase 1 because we came in under budget.”
During Sandy, Island Park was inundated with six to eight feet of saltwater that flooded many homes and businesses in the village and forced the schools, the firehouse, places of worship and Village Hall to close for weeks. Areas such as Francis Hegarty Elementary School also face issues with full-moon high tides, which at times cause flooding outside the doorway as students enter and leave the building.
“We’re tired of being prisoners in our homes at high tide,” Ambrosia said. “We can’t get out. Enough is enough.”
In addition to the presentation on March 28, Supervisor Gillen will host a town hall focusing on project updates on March 25 at 7 p.m. at the library. The next Island Park village board meeting will be March 21 at 6:45 p.m.