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Flooding projects in Babylon neighborhood leave residents wanting more

"This is a Band-Aid on a big problem" of high tides that flood Fred Shore Beach and storm surges that push water into the neighborhood, a resident says.

Howard Wellbrock, far left, Dan Joyce, center, and

Howard Wellbrock, far left, Dan Joyce, center, and Kevin Conley, near Fred Shore Beach on Little Neck Road on Wednesday. Joyce said the roadway and beach often floods. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Two projects to alleviate flooding in a beachfront Babylon neighborhood are in the works, but some residents are questioning the effectiveness of the plans.

A bulkhead protecting the end of Little East Neck Road from the bay in the Frederick Shores neighborhood will be replaced with a taller one to prevent flooding from storms.

The New York Rising program of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery will finance the $457,000 project and work with Town of Babylon officials overseeing the bidding process to select a contractor.

Construction on the community-selected project is expected to begin late spring/early summer and finish by the fall, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

Little East Neck Road resident Lisa Ludwig said sand gets around the existing bulkhead and piles on the street in front of her house, necessitating post-storm cleanups.

She said the new bulkhead “will be a great help for those of us that live right there” but fears that project and one planned by the Village of Babylon to raise the height of East Shore Drive will do little to alleviate flooding.

“This is a Band-Aid on a big problem” of high tides that flood Fred Shore Beach and storm surges that push water into the neighborhood, she said.

Ludwig is a former leader of the private beach club that oversees Fred Shore Beach at the nexus of the two roads and previously sought government funding for a bulkhead across the beach to stop the water.

Because the beach is private — Frederick Shores residents can pay $80 per household for an annual membership to the beach, its pavilion, playground and bathrooms — the state won’t fund any projects there even if, residents argue, it would prevent neighborhood flooding.

“When there’s a nor’easter, the water goes right over the beach … and goes into the streets and floods the streets,” resident Dan Joyce said.

The replacement L-shaped bulkhead will extend across the end of Little East Neck Road and down the east side of the street alongside beach property.

Joyce and other beach club members organized a letter-writing campaign to town and state officials, asking that the bulkhead be extended across the front of the beach. They were denied, with the state citing federal policy not to fund projects on private property.

Joyce said without the bulkhead protecting the beach, it’s a project “trying to put a little bit of makeup on something that’s not really solving anything.”

His brother, Richie Joyce, also lives in the neighborhood and rejects the private-property argument.

“We pay individual taxes on our houses and we also pay taxes on the beach club,” he said. “That beach club should be entitled to anything and everything a homeowner should be entitled to.”

The beach club doesn’t have the funds to pay for a bulkhead themselves, Dan Joyce said, noting it took the club two years to raise $20,000 needed to rebuild bathrooms destroyed by superstorm Sandy.

The village’s project to raise the span of East Shore Drive from East Harrison Avenue to Little East Neck Road is anticipated for this spring/summer, Mayor Ralph Scordino said.

With that project, new drainage and the new bulkhead, “hopefully that’s going to stop the flooding,” he said.

Richard Groh, chief environmental analyst for the town, said residents shouldn’t fear.

“The project," he said, "is going to address all the flooding issues in that area.”

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