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Attacking flooding in the villages community meeting

Lawrence to host Aug. 29 community meeting

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Nearly five years have passed since Hurricane Sandy struck, and the villages of Cedarhurst and Lawrence have yet to see a shovel hit dirt on any of the promised flood mitigation projects that were originally conceived in 2013.

Both villages were to receive $3 million from the $27 million total that New York state promised communities in the Five Towns for an assortment of projects intended to reduce flooding. No money has yet to reach either village, however.

“No monies have been received to date to mitigate the flooding problems, even though to date the administration has submitted a plan and made repeated attempts on behalf of the village to move forward in this regard,” Lawrence Village Administrator Ron Goldman said at a July 13 village board meeting, in responding to a resident’s complaint about recurring flooding on certain streets in Lawrence.

To bring attention to both issues, Lawrence is scheduled to hold a meeting at the Lawrence Yacht & Country Club, at 101 Causeway in Lawrence, on Aug. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Joshua Lifshitz was one of two Lawrence residents who addressed the trustees about repeated flooding in what he called “the triangle” — the area bordered by Barrett Road, Briarwood Crossing and Hollywood Crossing. Water can rise up to two feet deep on his property at Hollywood Crossing, even in a typical rainstorm, Lifshitz said. “Cars consistently get stuck, I cannot landscape, and we cannot either get on or leave the property,” he said.

Monroe Street resident Rachel Lowenger said that despite the fact that her house has a check valve, her basement flooded twice in one week in June. “My house has French drains, pumps and a check valve,” she said, adding that she is at her “wit’s end” because of the flooding.

Lowenger said she had contacted the Suez Sewer Company, Nassau County’s sewer contractor. The sewer system is “very old and inadequate,” she added and the county is aware of it and is addressing the problem.

Mayor Alex Edelman said that the village has attacked the flooding problem more aggressively in the past 13 months, since he was elected. A check valve — which regulates the volume of water entering and exiting Bannister Bay — was moved from the first tee of the country club golf course to the fairway of the 18th hole to accommodate more rainwater; two pipes were installed to discharge more water back into the bay; and the village has increased its maintenance of the storm drains.

“These fixes, while helpful, did not totally alleviate this problem,” Edelman said at the board meeting. “The frustrated families, residents, constituents and homeowners need you to call, contact and write letters to their Nassau County legislators in an effort to pressure them to address this situation.” County officials have been invited to the Aug. 29 meeting, village officials said.

Similar to Lawrence, where stormwater appears to run south from Rockaway Turnpike, Cedarhurst endures significant flooding at the south end of Columbia Avenue “because the drainage system is tied into Broadway and Central Avenue,” Mayor Benjamin Weinstock said. There is also persistent flooding along Peninsula Boulevard, by both Albemarle and Arlington roads, because of a nearby tributary to Jamaica Bay.

“The Nassau County drains on Broadway, which take the stormwater, are obstructed and need to be cleaned,” Weinstock said, adding that as part of the NY Rising program, the county is expected to build a collection basin at the village’s sewage-treatment plant. Weinstock likened the basin to a concrete swimming pool with a high-speed pump that would send rain water back into the bay. The project was anticipated to start in March 2015, he said. Weinstock now expects to wait another 18 months before work begins.

County Legislator Howard Kopel, a Republican who lives in Lawrence, said he has not experienced flooding of his home, but a portion of his neighbors’ properties in the Sutton Park section of the village have.

“The problems are significant, and the infrastructure is 100 years old,” Kopel said, adding that he plans to attend the meeting. “You can’t realistically expect to replace the entire infrastructure. The cost is prohibitive. I’m not an engineer, but there are certain simple things like cleaning out the drainage systems, making sure there are no blockages and replacing pumps that could help on the margins.”

The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery is working closely with the county, and expects the drainage report to be finalized soon, a GOSR official said. The county and state will speak to the municipalities receiving Community Reconstruction money about the project, the official added.

The Nassau County Department of Public Works had not returned calls requesting comment by press time.

Have an opinion about flooding and other Hurricane Sandy-related issues? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.