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North Hempstead to fix Town Dock, parks with $44M from FEMA

The Town of North Hempstead dock in Port

The Town of North Hempstead dock in Port Washington, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

North Hempstead plans to use $44 million in federal money to help repair parking lots, the Town Dock, parks and other areas damaged during superstorm Sandy in 2012.

The funding comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will help pay for architectural studies and site construction. Almost $5 million from the state will also help toward the effort.

“We were hit really hard by superstorm Sandy, and that’s why you’re seeing this number being so much higher than before,” said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth, noting that the town has completed other FEMA restoration projects.

The money will fund 15 projects and is the largest amount of FEMA restoration money ever awarded to North Hempstead, said Tom Devaney, the town’s grant coordinator.

Two of the areas slated for repairs include $10.6 million toward the parking lots at North Hempstead Beach Park and $5.5 million for the parking lot at Michael J. Tully Park. Both locations became makeshift debris collection sites after the storm, Devaney said.

At one point, the parking lots held more than 18 tons of trash and tree limbs, and the weight damaged the pavement.

“When you pile that much debris on top of each other, it creates pressure, which creates heat, and there was damage and fires,” Devaney said.

The largest scheduled repair project involves $20 million to reconstruct the Town Dock in Port Washington, which flooded soon after the storm.

Bosworth said a new dock will be designed to better handle another major storm. Plans call for a taller dock with a new drainage system to prevent flooding, and steel pilings treated to resist water corrosion, she said.

“We’re talking about making the dock more resilient,” Bosworth said. “The last time it was renovated was 1978.”

North Hempstead isn’t the only locale embarking on a renovation effort. In Oyster Bay, officials received $39.6 million from FEMA in 2013 for Sandy repair and completed the projects in 2014.

North Hempstead will first have to approve bond measures to generate the money to pay for repairs upfront, and FEMA will reimburse the town. Bosworth said she is hopeful the town council will approve the bonds.

The town made the right move with focusing its repair projects on withstanding future storms, said Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a Northport-based nonprofit that lobbies for increased infrastructure funding across Long Island.

Alexander said that Long Islanders care deeply about their local parks and that the FEMA funding comes at an ideal time.

“Government has really shrunk dollars going to municipal budgets, so with that in mind, having this subsidized by the federal government is just smart planning and a smart investment on their part,” Alexander said.

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