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Hempstead Village supports bonds to treat water

The Hempstead Village Board plans to install a

The Hempstead Village Board plans to install a treatment system to destroy 1,4-Dioxane, a chemical compound found in cosmetics and soaps.  Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Hempstead Village Board voted on Wednesday to tentatively approve the issuance of $12.1 million in bonds for infrastructure upgrades to combat a chemical compound found in the village’s drinking water.

The board voted 5-0 to provisionally sign off on the bonds, pending the receipt of state grants to support the projects. The Laurel Avenue water plant project will get $6.3 million, while the plant on Clinton Street will get $5.8 million, according to board resolutions. 

At both plants, which are still operational, the village would install an “advanced oxidation process treatment system,” which would destroy 1,4-Dioxane, a chemical compound found in cosmetics and soaps. 

Chronic exposure to the compound, a suspected carcinogen, may lead to a very small risk of cancer, according to Robert Holzmacher, a water consultant with the village.

The state health department has not set a maximum allowable limit for the compound in drinking water, but it is expected to adopt one soon, Holzmacher said.

The compound was first detected in the village's water through routine sampling in 2015, Holzmacher said. It's unclear how the compound got into the water, but it has been found in drinking water across Long Island in recent years, he said.

The tentative bond resolutions, which required at least a 4-1 vote from the board to pass, initially failed. Trustees LaMont Johnson and Perry Pettus voted against, expressing concerns about the cost of the projects and the short time-frame in which they had to consider them.

But the trustees reversed their votes after further considering that the village would miss out on millions in potential grant funding for the projects from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation if it did not pass the resolutions Wednesday.

“If we can eliminate some of the costs on the village taxpayers by getting the grant, why not improve our chances” of getting the grants by passing the bond resolutions, asked Renee Holmes, an environmental attorney and village resident.

“It’s not something that’s going to go away,” Holmes said of the contaminant.

The board also voted to appoint Cherice Vanderhall as village attorney, and Grace Lawrence-Nehikhare as acting village treasurer. The positions respectively pay $125,000 and $150,000 a year.

Vanderhall, of Baldwin, was previously the deputy village attorney. She is replacing Debra Urbano-DiSalvo, the longtime village attorney who is retiring Jan. 11.

Lawrence-Nehikhare, of Hempstead, was previously the deputy village treasurer. She is replacing Ray Calame, the longtime village treasurer who is also retiring Jan. 11.

The board also voted 3-2 against hiring Justin Kum, the current head of information technology in the village, as an IT consultant after he retires.

“If we know he's retiring, we should transition him out, not wait until he's retired” only to rehire him as a consultant, said Trustee Jeffery Daniels, who cast one of the no votes.

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