Nassau County has completed construction of an 18-foot high concrete wall around the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant intended to protect the facility from storm surges after superstorm Sandy flooded the plant four years ago this week.
County officials also are proposing to rename the plant — Nassau’s largest, servicing 532,000 residents — as the South Shore Water Reclamation Facility. The move comes after some Bay Park residents complained that their neighborhood was too closely linked with the plant, which opened in the 1950s.
Earlier this month, Grace Industries of Plainview, a county contractor, completed construction of a perimeter wall and earthen berm surrounding the 43-acre plant. The barrier, more than a mile in circumference, is designed to protect the plant from a 500-year storm.
“Bay Park is one the most ambitious post-superstorm Sandy infrastructure and mitigation projects on the East Coast and perhaps the best example of strengthening infrastructure against future storms ,” said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano.
The $37.2 million project is the county’s most extensive effort ever to safeguard the plant, which was submerged with water after Sandy hit on Oct. 29, 2012. More than 100 million gallons of raw sewage flowed into area waterways and in the 44 days it took to restore operations fully at Bay Park, another 2.2 billion gallons of partially treated sewage flowed out of the plant.
The storm-hardening project is part of an $830 million overhaul of the plant. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursed Nassau $730 million, with the rest paid by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. To date, Nassau has spent about $400 million on the project, said Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin.
While the plant is making physical improvements, some Bay Park residents say a name change is overdue.
“We don’t want to be known as the sewage treatment community,” said Bay Park resident Trish Kearney, 66, who lobbied for the name change. “It’s not fair to us. It’s a matter of pride for the community.”
Eric Gernath, chief executive of Suez North America, the New Jersey company that manages the county’s sewer system, said new signage at the plant will be erected in the coming weeks. He said the changes signify a “new era” for the plant and the Bay Park community.
“The community of Bay Park should stand proud, separate and distinct from this facility,” Gernath said. “Given the enormous and positive changes taking place here, this is the time to make that break.”
The Cedar Creek Sewage Treatment Plant in Seaford also would be renamed the Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility.
The renamings require the approval of the GOP-controlled county Legislature. Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said their caucuses would vote for the change.
Mangano, a Republican, his wife, Linda, and Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto are under federal indictment for conspiracy to commit bribery, fraud and obstruction in connection with their dealings with a Bethpage restaurateur. They have pleaded not guilty.