After stalling a project to reconstruct West Shore Road in Mill Neck over the question of who owned the pavement and seawall, Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Peter Schmitt has decided to let the work proceed, an aide said Thursday.
But Schmitt (R-Massapequa) first wants to see whether bonding for the work can be extended to save money and have the county administration answer a few more engineering questions, aide Ed Ward said. All of the questions should be answered in the near future and contracts awarded before the end of the year, he added.
"A form of this project is going ahead," Ward said. "We have to do the capital improvement sooner or later. We can't close the road and make people go around the other way" through Lattingtown.
Thursday's comments by Ward had a far different tone from those offered by Schmitt earlier in the week. At that point Schmitt seemed content to let the road, one of two access routes in and out of Bayville and Centre Island, close because of severe deterioration rather than spend millions to rebuild it.
At issue is a $9 million project for the first of three phases of reconstructing a 2-mile stretch of the road that runs along Oyster Bay Harbor.
Schmitt in July tabled a vote on contracts for the first phase of the work, citing earlier testimony by a deputy county attorney raising questions on whether the county owned the road or it belonged to the federal Fish and Wildlife Service.
But the county attorney's office then provided a 1907 resolution from the board of supervisors that predated the legislature and stated the road belonged to Nassau. Officials also provided a map showing the county property boundaries.
On Monday, in a heated exchange with Legis. Judy Jacobs (D-Woodbury), Schmitt warned the county would shut West Shore Road if its safety were in question.
But Ward said staff met Tuesday with the county attorney's office and public works officials about the project, and that most of Schmitt's questions were answered.
Ward said the ownership issue "seems to have been resolved," although a few secondary questions about the mechanics of the project remain. But, he added, "they can be worked out."
He said Schmitt wants to know whether starting the project in the middle as planned will adversely impact ends of the road if a storm hits before the entire road is reconstructed.
"Overall cost is an issue," Ward added. He said if the first phase of the project can be funded over two years to stretch out the bonding, that could save the county money without delaying the project.
Jacobs said, "I'm certainly glad that he has clarity on this issue now and realized the importance of it."
With Celeste Hadrick