Senator tours village DPW
Sen. Tom Croci stands with Mayor Ray Fell (center) and Deputy Mayor Joe Gagliano (left) at the salt shed.


Senator tours village DPW


Last week, state Sen. Thomas Croci (R-Sayville) toured the Bellport Village DPW to review remediation work of the 85-year-old stormwater drainage system. The remediation is being made possible by a $475,000 NYS State and Municipal Facilities Capital Program grant that Croci secured in 2016.

“Here at the highway yard, we’re going to filter that water instead of it going directly into the Great South Bay,” Mayor Ray Fell explained. The existing direct discharge drainage system, which conveys stormwater to an outfall directly discharging to Bellport Bay, will be replaced with catch basins and interconnected leaching pools that will collect and recharge stormwater.

Fell and highway superintendent Jason Crane agreed that the new project would move the village towards greater environmental consciousness. They hope the drainage improvements will help alleviate pollutants in Bellport Bay, therefore improving the water quality of the Great South Bay as a whole.

Pointing to an existing storm drain, Crane worried about the possibility of a fuel spill. At the highway yard, a fuel tank sits just feet away from the drains. “If we have a fuel spill, before you can drive down to the marina, you’ll see the fuel coming out into the bay,” he said. “The drainage grant we received will fit all the drains here with filters that will capture all the water, filter it, then put it down into the sand which can filter it further,” noting that the filters can be easily replaced as needed.

During the tour, Croci also toured the salt barn constructed in the winter of 2015-2016 with a $93,000 grant he helped secure alongside Assemb. Dean Murray (R,C,I-East Patchogue). Prior to the construction of the salt shed, salt for winter storms was stored on the ground, causing runoff with rain and snowmelt. The salt would filter into the stormwater drains at the highway yard and eventually reach the bay. The more environmentally friendly salt storage area is what Croci referred to as a sorely needed capital improvement. “A salt shed may not seem like something major to most people, but the ability to quickly react to a snowstorm or an ice storm with salt and sand is really a safety issue,” he said, adding that it’s an environmental issue as well.

The new SAM grant will also be used towards stormwater remediation at the end of Thorn Hedge Road. Currently, flooding persists on the road as a result of stormwater runoff from upland areas to the north, storm surges and low topography/limited depth to groundwater conditions. The existing conditions result in untreated stormwater flow from the roadway and upland areas to the bay, which further contributes to excessive pollution in the bay, village officials explained. 

As the Advance has reported, the board has looked at several options for remediation, including a bioretention field (rain garden). At a work session earlier this year, Crane noted that this project has proved to be more of a challenge than the DPW yard. “We’re very limited in what we can do,” he said, since there’s only approximately two feet of depth until reaching groundwater in the low-lying area.

Fell said that this month, the board plans to revisit the issue and come up with a plan. “We’ll develop what we think we should do and then have a meeting with the residents of that street,” he said.

State and Municipal Facility Program, or SAM grants, allow state agencies to direct money for an array of capital improvements. These projects have included new streetlights, athletic fields, parks and infrastructure improvements statewide. “[The SAM grants] allow us to take money for capital improvements and bring it back to the villages and townships to make sure that they have the funds to do the projects they need to do,” Croci said. “It’s safety work, but also makes sure we’re protecting the environment and the Great South Bay,” he said, talking specifically about the improvements in Bellport Village. “It’s why we live here.”