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Long IslandNassau

Company won't build water tower in Wantagh

After facing strong opposition from local residents and lawmakers, Aqua New York president Matthew Snyder Monday will withdraw the company's applications to build a 150-foot water tower in Wantagh.

The company had proposed the new structure to alleviate chronic low water pressure in the area. But Town of Hempstead officials and local residents feared the tower planned for DeMott Avenue would be an eyesore, lower property values and bring commercial development into neighborhoods.

"Some Realtors were saying in the immediate area, you could be talking a $30,000 reduction [in home value], easily," said Fred Parola, who provides legal counsel to the Wantagh/ Seaford Homeowners Association. He also cited environmental concerns, adding that the Wantagh Woods neighborhood where the tower would be built is a "very pristine, purely residential area."

At the suggestion of Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin, Aqua held a meeting July 12 to hear residents' concerns and explain the proposal. More than 300 residents attended the meeting with many opposing the tower.

"We want to thank Aqua for 'doing the right thing' by area neighbors in withdrawing its application for this water tower," Murray said in a statement.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and State Sen. Charles Fuschillo (R-Merrick) also called on Aqua to find a different solution.

"Residents were very upset, and we listened to them and took everything in over the past few weeks," Snyder said.

Building the tower was the cheapest option to solving the pressure problem, Snyder said. The $2-million project would have cost residents $5 more per year for water bills starting Jan. 1. But residents said at the July 12 meeting they would be willing to pay more if it meant not erecting the tower.

Snyder said he's not sure what the alternative will be, but that Aqua will look at whether a ground-level storage tank in place of the elevated tank would work in that location.

"It's back to the drawing board" in some respects, he said. "But we have ideas. Now we're looking at what we have to do."

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