Roads in Islip Town have deteriorated to an unsustainable level, according to a citizens advisory committee that Tuesday recommended the town spend $70 million over the next two years to repair its failing infrastructure.
Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan said the board would consider holding a referendum on a bond issue to fund some or all of the suggested repairs.
"We're at a tipping point - things have been allowed to degrade for so long," said Mary Louise Cohen, a Bay Shore school board member who serves on the town's 15-member infrastructure committee. "We really have to do something before we fall down even deeper."
The committee, appointed six months ago to evaluate the state of Islip's roads and park facilities, presented its findings Tuesday in a special town board meeting.
Acknowledging that a bond of that size could be a tough sell in a period of shrinking revenue and budget cuts, the committee members nevertheless recommended spending $48 million on roads and $22 million on parks.
Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt expressed reservations at the $70-million price tag. "I'm very nervous about the sticker shock that might be felt," she said.
According to the report, the annual debt service on a $70-million bond would cost the average homeowner $50 and the average business owner $180.
"There's a cost of not doing a lot of this stuff," said committee member Bob Draffin, president of the Bayport Civic Association. "As time goes by the cost gets greater and greater."
The committee ranked the town's 1,011 miles of roads on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being poor, 6 being fair and 10 being excellent. It recommended repairing the 183 miles of roadway ranked below 6.
Because the condition of roads worsens more quickly over time, the cost of repairs increases exponentially. The committee therefore recommended repairing the 219 miles of roadway ranked at 7 or 8 before the work becomes more expensive.
The committee, which worked with a consultant hired by the town board, said that if the town maintains its current spending level of $5 million per year on roads, the cost of repairing the entire roadway system would balloon by more than $100 million in five years.
If, however, the town invests the money now, the cost of repairs will decrease in the future, the committee said.
"It's a catch-up plan," said Gerald Pallotta, a West Islip businessman who co-chaired the committee.
The committee also prioritized parks projects according to criteria including building safety, community needs, energy efficiency and potential revenue. Recommended projects include $125,000 for a damaged gym floor at the Brentwood Recreation Center and $1.1 million to repair damaged windows and doors at Brookwood Hall in East Islip.
Highlights from the infrastructure committee's recommendations:
- Spend $48 million on roads and $22 million on park facilities over two years
- Repair the 183 miles of roadway rated below fair, and the 219 miles of roadway that could be fixed cheaply now before it gets worse
- Prioritize parks projects according to safety concerns, community needs, increasing energy efficiency and boosting town revenue