Nassau County will fund a $650,000 construction of an emergency access driveway for the Seaford Harbor School, after parents and administrators raised safety concerns about the building only having one way for vehicles to enter and leave.
The county's monetary pledge would be part of an intermunicipal agreement with the Seaford school district, which would be responsible for overseeing the construction. The county will fund the project with capital money in the coming year, county Department of Public Works spokesman Michael Martino said Wednesday.
"My administration will work with the school district to make this longtime dream become reality," County Executive Edward Mangano said in a statement.
Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) requested that the county change its capital budget to include funds to build the driveway. The school district had initially tried to fund the costs through a bond referendum in May 2011 but it failed.
"I am glad that it is being funded," Denenberg said. "If it makes more sense for the school to do the project and the county to fund it, so be it. It has to get done."
Advocates had complained that Bayview Street, the only roadway from the 50-year-old elementary school, is heavily congested during morning student drop-off and afternoon pickup. A new path would alleviate the constant traffic tie-ups and provide an efficient means of evacuation for the school, which has more than 600 students and 100 staff members, advocates said.
"This is great news; what it means most is the safety of our students, the employees and the residents of South Seaford," said district Superintendent Brian Conboy, adding safety concerns were heightened by superstorm Sandy and a traffic jam last month.
The plans call for a 310-foot access driveway on land owned by Nassau County. It took ownership of the land in 2003 from the state Department of Transportation to help complete the project.
The roadway, designed to be gated on both ends, would almost be a continuation of the school driveway that would lead into Ionia Street/Cedar Street. The gates could be opened in times of heavy traffic and during emergencies. The project would take six to eight weeks to complete, Conboy said.
"We are excited to get this road started and hopefully it is sooner rather than later," said school PTA president Deanine Nagengast, who has 8-year-old twins in the fourth grade.