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Nassau Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt warned Monday that the county would shut West Shore Road if safety is a concern, leading a Democratic legislator to complain that closing the waterfront roadway would isolate residents of Bayville and Mill Neck.
The exchange began when Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury) asked about the status of a $9 million project for the first phase of reconstructing a two-mile stretch of West Shore Road, which runs along Oyster Bay Harbor in Mill Neck. Schmitt had pulled the project from the committee's agenda in July.
"I’m very concerned about too many delays on this," Jacobs said. "This is critical. We could be liable for such horrible things. The underpinning of the road is literally falling away. Can you give us an update on why this is not moving forward?"
Schmitt said he had not received sufficient information from the administration about the project; saying there is "conflicting testimony about ownership."
He said he is collecting maps and correspondence from the 1920s and 1930s as well as ways to redo the road more cheaply. He noted that "capital projects all across the county are being shut down" to save money.
Jacobs objected that Shore Road was different. "Where's your engineering degree?" Schmitt asked.
Jacobs said, "The sidewalls holding up the road are literally falling away." She said she understands the county attorney had provided Schmitt with the necessary information. Schmitt responded, "It's incomplete. There are still things that have to be clarified for our satisfaction."
He said, "If safety claims have any validity, they should make arrangements to shut the road." Jacobs responded. "It's not so easy to alienate Bayville from being attached to Oyster Bay. I'm sure the people who live there, people in Mill Neck, could never ever leave their homes."
She asked to speak to chief deputy county attorney Lisa LoCurto, who was in the chambers. But Schmitt gaveled the meeting into recess, saying "We have to move forward." Jacobs asked, "Why can’t we put it on record for me?" Schmitt said, "Next committee."
Afterward, Schmitt aide Ed Ward said the presiding officer's staff would be meeting Tuesday with the county attorney's office and public works about the West Shore Road project. Legis. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove), whose district includes West Shore Road, is not a member of the Rules Committee, which approves contracts.
Photo: Nassau Legis. Judy Jacobs.