THE ISSUE: Over the past six years, the Great Neck community has been subjected to conflicting opinions regarding how to best upgrade two aging sewer plants. The environmental and local tax implications of this policy decision could have been disastrous for our community
Throughout this process, two plans were considered, diversion and consolidation. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the County of Nassau wanted the plan that would send our sewer tax monies into the County’s General Fund. Called the Diversion Plan, this scheme would have caused the two Great Neck sewer plants on East Shore Road to be connected to a newly constructed 12 mile pipe that would pump our waste to the County’s ocean outfall sewer plant at Cedar Creek on the South Shore.
The second plan, which I favored and fought for until it was recently adopted, avoided diversion by consolidating the two Great Neck sewer plants and upgrading them. Most importantly, this strategy allows us to retain local control and avoid the economic uncertainties of having our fate be determined by the unknown costs of running Cedar Creek.
As an ardent environmentalist and outspoken proponent of local government, my deep concerns about Great Neck sewer diversion to the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant were confirmed by the Long Island Press (Press) article, “Toxic Time Bomb,” published in the April 29, 2010 issue.
I was the first elected official, who was not a Sewer District Commissioner, to oppose sewer diversion to the Cedar Creek plant. The article reveals Cedar Creek as a profoundly deteriorated facility near its breaking point. Had we been hooked into it with the Diversion Plan, our community could have been exposed to unknown costs and liabilities.
I was deeply concerned that pumping raw sewage across the center of Long Island over our sole source aquifers was a bad idea from an economic and environmental standpoint. Any break in the sewer pipe would have contaminated Nassau’s purest source of drinking water.
The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) contacted me in an effort to change my position on the Diversion Plan. My position remained unchanged. Our community should never have been considered to be on the hook to clean up Cedar Creek and fortunately we were spared this in part because I stood up against diversion.
Working closely with North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, the Great Neck Village Mayors, the Commissioners of the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District and the community, we were able to successfully avert a potential ecological and financial disaster for Great Neck.
I recently sent a letter to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis telling him of my outrage after reading the Press article, and I asked him to reinstate the $15 million dollars that the taxpayers of Great Neck lost because we decided not to divert our sewage to Cedar Creek.
I will continue to fight for our fair share of sewer upgrade dollars.
Member of Assembly