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Officials: Mastic Beach missed sewage plant fund deadlines

Town Hall in the Village of Mastic Beach

Town Hall in the Village of Mastic Beach is at 427 Neighborhood Rd. The village was incorporated in 2010 and includes several historic sites. (July 8, 2011) Credit: Carl Corry

A state environmental agency and Suffolk County officials say Mastic Beach has missed key deadlines to receive funding next year for a proposed sewage treatment plant.

Mayor Bill Biondi said village leaders still plan to apply for grants, even if it is for the following cycle, but Suffolk officials warn the money may no longer be available.

Suffolk officials say the village is not eligible for $30 million in grants and loans with the sewer infrastructure program because it missed the June 4 application deadline, and isn't in the construction phase.

To receive the money, Mastic Beach "must have a project ready to go," said Joshua Slaughter, spokesman for Suffolk Legis. Kate Browning, whose district includes the 3-year-old municipality. He warned the grant money might not be available after next year. County officials say the program may not exist after next year.

At Tuesday's Mastic Beach board meeting, trustees withdrew an agenda item through which they would have chosen one of three engineering firms bidding to design the facility. The board is expected to revisit the issue at a Sept. 10 meeting.

Once the board chooses an engineering firm, it is expected to receive $500,000 in state grants state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has secured for the village's sewer infrastructure. The money was part of a years-old $2 million Brookhaven Town grant to improve the Mastic Beach, Mastic and Shirley areas.

Mastic Beach is seeking up to $11 million in federal and state monies to design its first sewage-treatment plant, which officials believe would help upgrade residential cesspools and draw commercial businesses. Environmental advocates hope a treatment facility would minimize nitrogen levels in local waterways.

A day after Mastic Beach officials announced plans to pursue funds for the project, the state Environmental Facilities Corporation on Tuesday said the village is not eligible for any of the $450 million in grants and loans available to municipalities in the 2014 federal fiscal year because it did not apply by the Feb. 1 deadline.

The EFC, which manages the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, finances facilities that improve, maintain or protect water quality such as wastewater collection and treatment plants. It also finances local governments and public authorities for planning, design and construction of eligible water quality projects, EFC officials said.

Biondi said he's not deterred. Design research on the treatment plant could take 12 months, after which the village would apply for the funds. "We're in the initial planning stages," the mayor said Tuesday, before the village's monthly meeting.

Village residents and board members seem to agree that a treatment facility is needed.

"The system of cesspools is an old waste solution that does not help the homeowner in the long term and limits commercial expansion," resident Geoffrey Slack, 56, said at the meeting.

"I can't see why the government wouldn't raise the funds," said Ron Snyder, 49, who plans to have his home connected to the system if it is designed. "The government should want to do this."

His wife, Anne Snyder, 45, said the treatment facility discussion is long overdue. "We're the gateway to the Hamptons. It's a great idea. I'm on board."

Village trustee Gary Stiriz said bringing a treatment center to the area is "a necessary part of redevelopment for Mastic Beach."

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