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Smithtown to upgrade highway department's fueling station

The Town of Smithtown was awarded a $304,329 state grant to expand and update its fueling station in order to consolidate fueling operations among the town's three villages and six fire stations.

The grant, awarded earlier this month, is part of the state's Local Government Efficiency Program, which encourages projects that will achieve savings and improve municipal efficiency through shared services and consolidations, town officials said.

Other partners in the fuel consolidation system include: the Village of Nissequogue, the Village of the Branch and the Village of Head of the Harbor, as well as fire districts in Smithtown, St. James, Kings Park, Nesconset, Hauppauge and Commack. Smithtown's fueling station is at the town highway department yard on Route 347.

"It's a wonderful opportunity for the town to modernize its facilities, to bring these other entities in," said John Valentine, town director of public safety. "This is like a major home run for us, and it's what we should be doing -- we should be sharing services and reducing tax burdens. . . . So having this larger facility, in theory, we could buy larger quantities of fuel at cheaper prices."

Valentine said smaller entities may run out of fuel during emergencies.

The new fueling facility would also have a larger capacity for fuel reserves, use backup generators and have a computerized monitoring system to protect the environment and control fuel inventory, he said. The town expects to break ground on the project in 2015.

The town originally applied for a more than $1 million grant to construct the new facility and abandon old fuel tanks that are being monitored per environmental regulations, said Valentine. The town plans to pursue other funding for the abandonment of older fuel tanks, he said.

Village of the Branch Mayor Mark Delaney said superstorm Sandy taught local governments the importance of sharing resources during emergencies and routinely.

"If we can share in . . . things like road sweeping and other services we provide to residents, then we might be able to do them more efficiently and more cost-effectively," said Delaney.

Laura Feitner, a town assistant civil engineer who worked with Valentine on the project, said any new fuel tanks purchased through the state funding will be made of a fiberglass polymer that is nonreactive and can be reused.

"They're designed to last for the long term and could be reused for additional, greener alternative fuels that could become available in the future," she said.

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