A pair of grants recently awarded to Westhampton Beach will go toward the second phase of the village’s efforts to bring a sewer connection downtown, which village officials have touted as both eco-friendly and a potential local economic generator.
The village has received a $3.3 million grant from New York State’s Regional Economic Development Council that will make improvements at a Suffolk County-owned local wastewater treatment plant at Frances S. Gabreski Airport in the village, where the village is currently in the process of building a $11.1 million collection and conveyance system that will connect to the plant.
The grant will help offset part of the $4.8 million costs of the project’s second phase, according to Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore. The first phase of the project, the actual construction of the wastewater collection system, is on schedule and projected to be finished this summer, Moore said.
"It will be a big reduction in the nitrogen and improved water quality, but there’s also going to be an economic impact," Moore said, pointing out that new restaurants had opened on Main Street this past summer that had requested outdoor dining, but cannot do so without a sewer connection.
Bringing a sewer connection to the village’s Main Street business district and two nearby condominium complexes has been a goal at the village for several years. A study paid for by the village and released in 2017 projected that connecting the business district to sewer would eliminate roughly 5,000 pounds of nitrogen annually that enter village waterways, reducing waste that pours into local waterways such as Moniebogue Bay by 24%.
Another grant for $250,000 was awarded to the village in late December from Suffolk County’s Water Quality Protection and Restoration Program, which will go toward the plant upgrades.
The second phase of the project will include retrofitting the existing treatment process at the Gabreski site with new and updated sewer treatment technology. Moore said the upgrades — which are expected to be complete by the end of 2022 — are necessary to accommodate 60,000 daily gallons of wastewater which the village will be sending to the county plant.
Suffolk County still must approve the plans for the plant upgrades, after which the village would put the second phase work out to bid. Village and county officials will be meeting in the second week of January to discuss the plans, according to Moore.