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Nassau public hearing eyes repairs to Bay Park sewage plant

Shown are digestor tanks at the Bay Park

Shown are digestor tanks at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway. At right is a 60-foot-high gas sphere on March 9, 2011. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Nassau County lawmakers will hold a rare special public hearing Thursday on pending repairs to the superstorm Sandy-damaged Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant.

The meeting, which Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) called to involve the full legislature, rather than just the Public Works Committee, will focus on the East Rockaway facility's reconstruction timeline and plans to fortify it against future storms.

Cristina Brennan, a spokeswoman for the legislature's Republican majority, said the hearing will also cover "sources of financing, including a long-term strategy to acquire funding for an ocean outfall pipe."Democrats in the legislative minority have long pushed for more hearings on major topics, after the Republican leadership had scheduled only one in the last two years. Gonsalves and Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) recently agreed on Bay Park as the first topic worthy of such a hearing.

"We need to see concrete plans and an accurate timeline of this much-needed investment to fix Nassau's sewers," Abrahams said. "Less than 5 percent of the overall funding allocated to date has been spent to get these much-needed projects done. They will put Nassau back to work and will restore Sandy-affected communities to pre-storm normalcy."

The facility, which serves 40 percent of Nassau County, was knocked offline during Sandy, sending more than 100 million gallons of raw sewage into waterways.

The state has secured $810 million in federal funding to upgrade the facility and prepare it to withstand a 500-year storm. A second push is ongoing to secure about $750 million more in aid to create an outfall pipe and a system to remove nitrogen from treated wastewater before it is dumped into the Atlantic Ocean.

The hearing will take place at 2 p.m. at the legislature's meeting chambers inside the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

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