After most of Island Park was underwater from Superstorm Sandy, local officials said the village is finally getting the attention it deserves before the next major storm.
Nassau County construction crews are preparing a $1.3 million state-funded project to renovate downtown Island Park and install underground drainage storm basins. Construction is set to begin by Friday, coinciding with the ninth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. Construction is expected to be done by next fall.
The project joins a $33 million project with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add drainage pipes throughout the village to help protect 1,100 homes and 118 businesses, officials said.
Residents have complained about chronic flooding in the village, making roads impassable, causing home and vehicle damage and blocking access to their homes.
"It’s no secret Island Park is a low-lying community, susceptible to flooding during major storms," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Monday, announcing the project in front of the Island Park Public Library. "I think Island Park did not get the attention it deserved during Superstorm Sandy. This place was really hurt and homeowners and businesses were hurt."
The new project will add greenery and beautification efforts including repaving Long Beach Road through the business district of downtown Island Park. The project will also add crosswalks, pedestrian and bike access, curb extensions and sidewalk ramps, Curran said.
The state project drainage system will install underground catch basins and treat stormwater before flowing back to the bays and Reynolds Channel or contributing to street flooding.
"By treating storm runoff before it flows into the bay, we’re protecting the surrounding communities and the rest of Long Island as a whole," Curran said. "Part of the collective security of Long Island depends on the barrier islands, which serve as natural buffers to mitigate storm surge during coastal storms."
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), who helped secure state funding, said Monday the chronic flooding has been so bad that parents have had to hand off their children through the car window at school because floodwaters were too high.
"I do believe it is getting the attention it deserves now and the money it needs to transform the infrastructure of the community," Kaminsky said. "Now we need to get it done. Nine years is a long time to be told things will change and things are changing."
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced plans in August for the village to install larger diameter drain pipes on Suffolk, Hastings, Warwick, Deal, Radcliffe and Quebec roads.
Island Park Mayor Michael McGinty said the new pipes will increase underground water storage. The village is also using funding to install at least 15 tidal valves to manage seawater and reduce flooding on village streets.
McGinty said he is seeking additional state funding to repair fractured drain pipes and drain boxes.
"We’re getting attention from the federal and state government and have launched an aggressive village posture in the area of grant applications and grants received," McGinty said.
Island Park Flood Prevention Project
$1.3 million in disaster funding from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery
New underground storm basins to filter stormwater
New sidewalks, crosswalks and repaving Long Beach Road
$33 million in federal funding for tidal valves and pipes