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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stop the political posturing and fix the Bay Park plant

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we’ve seen many triumphs, but now, sadly, in some cases, politics are getting in the way of fully repairing some of the infrastructure that was lost or severely damaged.

More than halfway through the summer, the beaches are crowded, surrounding restaurants once again have lines, and local business revenues are looking better and better. Two weeks ago, a major portion of the Long Beach boardwalk reopened, less than a year after the entire iconic structure was destroyed by the storm.

In fact, I was honored to stand with so many of you this past weekend as a portion of the new boardwalk, near New York Avenue, was renamed Larry Elovich Way in honor of my dear friend Larry, a Long Beach legend.

These displays show true courage and victory over a storm that caused so much devastation. In the words of Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, I suppose we are “stronger than the storm.” Such is the case in the communities along the canals and bays.

Hurricane Sandy crippled the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, located between three canals and Hewlett Bay, in southern East Rockaway. The storm caused major damage to the infrastructure and much of the surrounding area. Critical pieces of the plant’s structure were damaged by nine-foot tidal waves of seawater.

As has been detailed in the Herald, the plant was shut down for two days, during which tens of millions of gallons of sewage spilled out into local waterways. Bay Park is a significant part of our infrastructure on Long Island, and it continues to operate in a weakened and fractured state. To this day, sewage still seeps into Reynolds Channel, just of north of Long Beach.

The plant was antiquated and in much need of repairs before Sandy. Now it’s in an even more fragile state. There is a public health crisis, as the dumping of poorly treated and sometimes raw sewage into our bays is destroying the quality of life not just for the people who live in the surrounding areas, but for all of us.

Bay Park treats 40 percent of the county’s sewage. We will soon enter the peak of hurricane season, and yet county lawmakers still can’t agree on how to fix the plant. It will take much less than a superstorm to knock it offline again.

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