The Village of Freeport is getting nearly a million dollars in state money to tackle a persistent problem every time it rains during high tide: nuisance flooding that leaves roads impassable and residents frustrated.
Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy and state Sen. Michael Venditto (R-Massapequa) announced the $800,000 grant, which will fund six catch basins with dewatering pumps and automatic controls. The mayor said these six installations will be the first of 30 around the village.
Village streets, particularly the areas along Hudson and Guy Lombardo avenues near the Nautical Mile, can fill with water up to 2 feet high when it rains during high tide, Kennedy said.
Previous attempts to stem the flooding have not worked when both high tides and heavy rain combine, the mayor said.
The new, larger catch basins, combined with pumps and check valves, are designed to both pump out water and keep it from coming into the streets from Randall Bay.
The catch basins also will have inserts to prevent debris from getting caught in valves or going into the waterways. Each unit costs about $125,000, including installation. The money came from the state budget, and was directed to the village by Venditto, according to a spokesman for the senator.
The village board is waiting for bids to be submitted. Kennedy — a mechanical contractor who designed the new system — said he expects it to be functional within six to eight months. The mayor said he hopes the remaining 24 units also will be covered by grants.
The village has installed check valves — which fit into drainage pipes to prevent water from backing up and flooding streets — elsewhere, but Kennedy said they require the pumps and catch basins to be more effective. “People are really enthusiastic about what we’ve done so far,” he said.
Butch Yamali, owner of Hudsons on the Mile, a restaurant in Freeport, said frequent flooding is “your biggest worry” for a business owner in the area. He praised Kennedy’s system, noting his restaurant, home and warehouse in Freeport all have flooded before.
“It’s been like this forever,” he said. “We’re hoping this works.”
Kennedy said he hopes less flooding will lead to increased home values and decreased insurance costs. The village spends “millions of dollars every year” to fix roads and replace vehicles that have been damaged by saltwater, he said.
The new system, however, would not have prevented mass flooding such as what happened during superstorm Sandy because the water came through the Jones and East Rockaway inlets, not Randall Bay, Kennedy said.
“They’re going to be ineffective” during major storms, the mayor said, noting that they are designed only for “recurring” nuisance flooding.
“I don’t think anything would help for [Sandy],” Yamali said.