Construction of a new drainage system for Island Park is set for September to shore up the village’s defenses against flooding, paid for with $33 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The current drains date to the middle of the 20th century and are ill-prepared to handle deluges of water, whether looming flooding that has forced the closure of local schools periodically over the past several years or Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which damaged 1,100 of the village’s 1,144 homes, and "utterly destroyed" Village Hall, according to the mayor, Michael McGinty.
He said the project, the money for which Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) helped secure, has already gone out to bid and is expected to be complete in 30 months.
"This is an investment for a 100-year flood, 50-year flood," he said. "It will mitigate floodwaters and property damage," the mayor said.
The construction — to be done on Suffolk, Hastings, Warwick, Deal, Radcliffe and Quebec roads — will encompass installing a drain pipe with a larger diameter than is currently there, the mayor said.
In 2014, Schumer joined his former rival, Alfonse D’Amato — whom Schumer defeated in 1998 — to call for $40 million in federal funds to go toward the project, which includes drainage pipes, bulkhead replacements and raised roads. Since then, $7 million had been allocated for the project.
"The Village of Island Park suffered immense damage during Sandy — homes, businesses and school buildings were destroyed and livelihoods were trounced by surging floodwaters," Schumer said Wednesday in a statement sent by a spokesman. "Since that time, we have worked day and night to rebuild and fortify this community so that it is both better protected and prepared for whatever Mother Nature delivers."
The spokesman, Angelo Roefaro, said the project would help protect the 1,144 homes, as well as 118 businesses, five public properties and four schools or nonprofits.
Roads will be closed during construction, with metal plates covering the ground at night, the mayor said. Once the work is done in one segment, the road will be reconstructed and reopened.