Some Bay Park residents want to know whether a new bulkhead under construction at Grand Canal along East Boulevard will improve flooding problems or make them worse.

Installing a new plastic bulkhead along the East Side of the canal is part of Hempstead Town's $3.6 million effort to replace the deteriorating 30-year-old retaining wall and help prevent flooding on both sides of the waterway.

"The street was caving in and something had to be done," Ronnie Basso, chairman of the Bay Park Civic Association, said during a meeting with town engineers Tuesday night.

The bulkhead and its wooden cap would be about 18 inches higher than the existing bulkhead, town officials said.

Some residents in the nearly half-square-mile waterfront hamlet with a population of 2,200 said they are worried that the added height could increase flooding along the West Side of the canal. When water rises, it could flow toward the West Side first, they said.

"Nobody is sticking up for the West Side and that's not fair," said Lorraine Guarnieri Keegan, 60, who is a lifelong Bay Park resident. "We needed the new bulkhead, but we didn't know it would be so high."

Jeffrey Tierney, coordinator of drainage design for the town's engineering department, said an increase in the height of a bulkhead would not increase the height of floodwater because it doesn't work like a dam.

"Nothing will change," Tierney said. "I'll guarantee that." He said he and civic association officials have had discussions about the project and its impacts for two years.

Sharyn Krudis, 65, who lives near the canal, cautioned officials that "if it doesn't work out, there will be consequences."

The bulkhead replacement project includes new walkways and curbs, as well as Victorian-style lighting, town officials said. The work began in mid-November and is expected to be complete by Memorial Day, they said.

"This design is not going to flood the West Side," association president Richie Brennan said. "Flooding is not going to happen just because of a new moon or high tide . . . This is a beautiful project."

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