The Brookhaven Highway Department broke ground Monday on a former Holtsville dog pound site set to be transformed into a highway storage yard.
The $1.2 million renovation project -- scheduled for completion in July -- is aimed at improving the department's response times in preparation for this summer's tropical storm season. "This is a step forward for the highway department," highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said during a news conference Monday at the 5,000-square-foot site near Canine and Buckley roads.
"This makes the department more efficient and increases response time," said Losquadro, a Republican elected to the position in March.
Losquadro said the dilapidated site will be a key storage yard for the department as one of its prime locations, allowing dispatched vehicles to arrive at destinations more quickly, especially along the South Shore.
The storage yard is expected to house plows, dump trucks and other equipment, town officials said.
Democratic Councilwoman Connie Kepert, the town board's liaison to the highway department, said yesterday she had not been informed of the project. "I hadn't heard about it," she said.
Kepert said she has sent letters and left messages for Losquadro regarding improvements in the department and the handling of future storms, to no avail.
She said several of the eight Brookhaven highway storage yards are in horrible shape and need repairing.
"I don't know if they've been busy or just getting acclimated," Kepert said of not receiving a response from Losquadro.
Losquadro won a closely watched and contentious special election in March after the department was widely criticized for its poor response to February's blizzard. The storm dumped more than 30 inches of snow in some parts of town.
At the time, the highway department was without an official leader after former Superintendent John Rouse resigned Dec. 31 to become a county judge.
During the Feb. 8-9 blizzard, the department was helmed by acting superintendent Michael Murphy. But he faced criticism for taking a medical leave during the snowstorm, after which residents in some neighborhoods waited more than four days for streets to be plowed.
Murphy resigned under pressure from town officials, who then appointed John Capella as acting superintendent. Murphy later returned to his previous job as general foreman.