By Samuel Glasser
The effort to repair the collapsing culvert under North Plandome Road creeps forward, with the long-delayed work possibly starting in the fall, but that timing could coincide with the repaving of 3.9 miles of Port Washington Boulevard, tying up the two major routes off the peninsula.
The culvert is a piece of critical infrastructure that allows Leeds Pond to drain into Manhasset Bay, and its deteriorating condition was recognized in 2009. The road dips where it crosses the culvert and part of the adjacent sidewalk has collapsed.
The Town of North Hempstead built the culvert in the 1950s and in the 1970s promised to maintain it “in perpetuity,” said Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno, who has been leading the effort to get the work started.
She said at the monthly village board meeting on Tuesday that she recently met with state Sen. Elaine Phillips about the problem. She also said that in an exchange of e-mails, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth said the bid solicitation was being worked on and that repairs might be able to start in the fall.
Now U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi’s office is involved as well. Donno and Cindy Rogers, Suozzi’s district director, visited the site on May 22. Rogers was following up after Donno raised the issue on March 28 at a meeting that Suozzi hosted for the mayors of Glen Cove and the villages in his congressional district.
A meeting of Plandome Manor village and town officials is scheduled for May 31.
“I’m concerned,” Donno said. “It is really deteriorating and Port Washington Boulevard is set for repaving in the fall.”
She said that if both projects are underway at the same time it will be a major issue, meaning that two major routes from Port Washington could be at least partly blocked. And if the culvert project is not started, then the additional traffic diverted from the boulevard will hasten the deterioration, she said.
“The town has liability,” Donno said. “It’s not a problem until a school bus goes over.”
Another worry is that because of the lack of activity on the project, the state will pull back the $1.5 million grant that former state Sen. Jack Martins obtained for the town for the repairs.
About a year ago the town awarded a $200,000 contract to Sidney B. Bowne & Sons of Mineola for engineering services for the reconstruction of the culvert. Donno said that she understood that the firm was working on a request for proposals (RFP) that was to have been issued in February with work starting in June. Bowne, however, has since been acquired by the LiRo Group of Syosset, which the town says is working on the RFP.
A town spokeswoman said, “We are still working on the bid solicitation. We had comments on the engineering consultant’s proposal and sent it back to them for clarification. We are waiting for them to respond before we can proceed. The town will then issue a bid solicitation” for the construction.
In other business, the village board will hold a hearing on June 19, its next regular meeting, on proposed rules governing the placement of wireless telecommunications equipment on utility poles. The moratorium on such installations expires in July.