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Village residents frustrated over delayed flooding project

Village of the Branch residents have complained of

Village of the Branch residents have complained of construction equipment kept near a work site. Credit: James Carbone

An already overdue flood mitigation project in Village of the Branch will finish in early October, a month later than anticipated, Suffolk County Department of Public Works officials said. But residents said they are less concerned about the timing than damage to their lawns.

There were “unforeseen delays in utility relocations out of the contractor’s control,” Suffolk Acting DPW Commissioner Darnell Tyson said. He did not immediately elaborate.

The department is overseeing a $1.8 million effort to unclog a portion of a Nissequogue River tributary near Route 111 and Old Hauppauge Road, easing pressure on village residents who must now use sump pumps to keep their basements dry. Workers have installed new culverts at Branch Drive and reopened the road to traffic, Tyson said. At nearby Terrace Lane, workers have installed steel sheeting and are readying to excavate and install culverts and drainage structures, he said. Workers are expected to clear sediment clogging the streambed by the end of September, he added.    

Residents and local elected officials grew frustrated this year as a February deadline passed with contractor J. Anthony Enterprises making what they said was sporadic progress, resulting in continuing road closures and heavy equipment stored near culverts at Branch Drive and Terrace Lane. County officials had said earlier this summer that work would finish by Aug. 31. 

Residents at an Aug. 13 village board meeting appeared less concerned about the timing than what they said was damage to lawns caused by heavy equipment. “I was a parking lot for two backhoes and a crane for eight months,” a Cresthill Place man said. “Do I get my grass back, my sprinklers fixed?”

A highway-style guardrail installed in August near one of the culverts is big, ugly and dangerously sharp, residents said. “It looks like the Northern State Parkway,” said Terrace Lane resident Greg Owsenek.

J. Anthony Enterprises will “seed and repair damaged grass and sprinklers,” Tyson said. The department is assessing damage but has only received one complaint from a resident, he said. The guardrail is required under state regulations, he said, but the department is “working with the village to address any concerns, while maintaining the safety of motorists.”

Representatives of J. Anthony Enterprises could not be reached for comment. 

Mayor Mark Delaney said in a phone interview after the meeting that the village, which lacks its own public works department, relies on the county to oversee the construction work but may at least be able to assuage concerns over the guardrail. “There are certain things we can do around landscaping, painting, to make it not stand out like a sore thumb,” he said.

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