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Saturday, November 1, 2014
Bipartisan support revives Clean and Seed
Brian Croce/Herald
Legislator Laura Curran, second from right, and her colleagues in the County Legislature, including Norma Gonsalves, far left, and Kevan Abrahams, at a press conference in front of the property of East Rockaway resident Theresa Gaffney.

As many South Shore residents continue to pick up the pieces 19 months after Superstorm Sandy, county officials announced a bipartisan agreement to approve $14.4 million in borrowing to re-establish its Clean and Seed program.

The county declared a state of emergency two weeks after Sandy for homes on Barnes Avenue, in Baldwin, and North Boulevard, in East Rockaway, when there was a breach in a sewer main, causing sewage to bubble up into the surrounding streets and houses. The county first established the Clean and Seed program, to remove toxins from lawns, last year with $2 million in capital funding, but after assisting 200 homeowners, it ran out of money. According to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, there are currently 1,494 homes still on the program’s list.

The county launched a separate interior home cleaning program for sewage-stricken homes in 2012.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle came out in favor of the borrowing plan after it was passed in committee sessions earlier this month. The funding was unanimously approved on Monday by the full Legislature.

Shila Shah-Gavnoudias, commissioner of the county Department of Public Works, explained that after a homeowner requests to be part of the program, the property is assessed and, if it is approved, an outside firm strips the lawn and the top three inches of soil, puts down fresh soil and reseeds the lawn. A third party then inspects the work to make sure it has been done properly.

Barnes Avenue resident Keith Eckles had four feet of water in his home during Sandy and sewage strewn across his property. His lawn was one of the 200 that was dug up and reseeded last year during the program’s first round. “As a resident,” he said, “we didn’t know what was contaminated and what wasn’t contaminated on the outside.” He added that he was happy the program would be restored.

Legislator Laura Curran (D-Baldwin) said that the program was important, and that she was glad its restoration was approved by legislators of both parties. “The grass seeds could care less about politics,” she said. “They’re much more concerned with sunshine and rain.”

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