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Head of the Harbor officials spar over flood-damaged driveways

A $30,000 fix for flooding and damaged driveways on Head of the Harbor’s Hitherbrook Road may require further engineering and may not be permanent, trustee Judy Ogden said at a work session last week.

That assessment prompted Mayor Douglas Dahlgard to ask Ogden, who is also the village’s volunteer highway commissioner: “How could you do a project and spend all that money and not know where you’re going with it?”

Ogden said she consulted the village engineer before beginning the project last fall. It rebuilt four damaged driveways and replaced an asphalt swale running alongside the road that was intended to improve drainage. Additional paving may be needed, she said.

“We didn’t have the funds to do it in a more comprehensive way,” she added in an interview. “I think there was adequate planning.”

A storm in August led to severe runoff on the road, which runs steeply down from Route 25A toward Stony Brook Harbor. The swale may have aggravated problems, Ogden said, collecting water with nowhere to go but down.

Repairs started in October and ran through December. One resident, who said his driveway had been ruined, asked a board meeting: “Why do I have to live like this, with the taxes I pay?”

The village’s reliance on a contractor to do some of the work slowed the project, Ogden said last week.

Head of the Harbor’s small Highway Department maintains 20 miles of roads, but funding and manpower constrain regular repaving and capital spending. The budget adopted this year allots $330,000 for the Highway Department and $90,000 in federal road funds.

The total amount is not enough to repave one mile per year, Ogden said at the village board work session on Wednesday.

In October, Ogden said the village had hired GEI Consultants, an engineering firm with offices in Huntington Station, to study runoff and drainage and recommend solutions for Hitherbrook, Harbor and Fifty Acre roads and Cordwood Path.

The firm’s report, expected this winter, could position the village to compete for state and federal storm-water management grant money, she said.

Dahlgard softened his comments about Ogden’s work in an interview late last week.

“Probably the hardest job in the village is to be the highway commissioner,” he said. “You try to take care of all this infrastructure and you don’t have the resources you really need. Sometimes you struggle, and things take longer than you like.”

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