Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee Seeks Funding for Sewer Study

The Hempstead Harbor Protection Committee (HHPC) has applied for a grant to study the feasibility of sewering Glenwood Landing (GWL) and parts of Glen Head and Sea Cliff by connecting all or parts of these areas to the waste treatment facility in Glen Cove. Glenwood Landing, Glen Head, and Sea Cliff make up Hempstead Harbor Subwatershed 8. According to the Hempstead Harbor Water Quality Improvement Plan, subwatershed 8 contributes more pollution to the harbor than any other subwatershed. The plan also identifies sewers as the preferred method of waste treatment whenever possible.

The Glenwood / Glen Head Civic Association first suggested that such a study be conducted more than four years ago, when a privately funded sewer system was included in the Glen Harbor Partners application for a condominium apartment complex on the Glenwood Landing Waterfront immediately south of the GWL Power Station. The sewer would carry waste down Shore Road to the sewage treatment facility in Glen Cove.

Last month, Glen Cove Mayor Ralph Suozzi said sewer hookups from locations outside Glen Cove only will be considered after the city completes its master plan. At that time, he said, publicly funded projects that have been initiated based on demonstrated need will be given priority.

The North Hempstead Town Council is expected to vote on a rezoning application that would permit the Glen Harbor Partners project to move forward on November 14. The Civic Association has asked councilmembers NOT to grant the Glen Harbor Partners application, or at least to delay voting until a sewer feasibility study can be completed and the community can make judgments about the implications of the data and reach a consensus about the direction it would like on the GWL Waterfront. The next step, we believe, should be a comprehensive plan for all of the land in the Town of North Hempstead (TNH) portion of GWL.

If the grant application is successful, the Civic Association believes that the study it funds will provide a wealth of information that can then be used to make rational decisions about future development, infrastructure needs, and water quality improvement projects.

Given the cost of the privately funded sewer proposed by Glen Harbor Partners, the fact that construction would require opening Shore Road, the implications of sewering on density, and the positive impact that sewering selected areas of subwatershed 8 could have on the harbor, the civic association believes that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required by TNH in connection with the Glen Harbor project should have examined the feasibility of sewering all the underdeveloped lots on Shore Road, particularly the Shore Realty site (a brownfield immediately south of the Glen Harbor proposal where a clean up process has been ongoing for many years).

We repeatedly asked that two basic questions be answered: If a privately funded, one-project-at-a-time approach to sewers is taken, how many sewer lines might be constructed under Shore Road and how many times might Shore Road, ultimately, be opened for this purpose? We also repeatedly asked that the EIS examine the possibility that sewering selected portions of Glenwood Landing might significantly improve water quality, and, if so, how such a project might be funded and coordinated with the Glen Harbor project.

This grant, which is offered through the NYS Dept. of State / Division of Coastal Resources, is highly attractive because the local match (the amount of cash or services that municipalities must put up to receive the grant) is only 10%, a much smaller amount than is ordinarily required.

HHPC is an inter-municipal organization made up of the municipalities surrounding Hempstead Harbor. The civic association attends HHPC meetings and supports the work of the committee in any way it can. We commend the members of HHPC for applying for the grant and plan to submit a letter of support to DOS.

3 comments:

Bryan Brown said...

Patrice,

I'm having a hard time reconciling the desire for sewering more of GWL (and GH and SC) with the opposition that has risen to the Hinfin project. I certainly support conducting the sewer study because the information gained will be invaluable; however, how can you fight a sewer to a 60-unit development when the implications of sewering the entire neighborhood are much larger? At least the Hinfin sewer, as distateful as the project is, had no growth-inducing aspects beyond its own borders.

Anyway, your blog is great. Thanks for making the effort.

Bryan

Patrice Benneward said...

I don't think we should assume that conducting a sewer feasibility study would ultimately lead to sewering or enable more intensive development of underutilized lots.

Rather, I think a study will provide objective data that can then be used to direct policy. What those policies decisions might be depends on community concensus. People will probably be able to use the data to argue many different positions. Clearly, the Civic Association strongly favors preserving as much open space as possible on the Glenwood Landing Waterfront.

One of the major questions I am interested in exploring is whether sewering any specific, targeted, already developed areas would markedly decrease the bacteria entering the harbor and, therefore, significantly improve water quality. If this study cannot answer that question, it may help to direct next steps for research.

Bryan Brown said...

Patrice,

I agree wholeheartedly with your points. I have no problem separating the objectives and benefits of the study from any actual sewering that could come from it. I think the study would be very helpful, particularly for addressing the issue of bacteria loading in the harbor. Another issue that I hope is covered is the potential for salt-water incursion, if the hydraulic contribution from septic systems is removed from the equation. I think Sea Cliff did a study some years ago that predicted what would happen.

And I think we both agree that public input along the way is the key to a successful outcome.

Bryan