Legislator Bridget Fleming, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman, and Mayor Maria Moore joined Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone today as he signed legislation to authorize an agreement with the Village of Westhampton Beach to connect its business district and two condominium complexes to the County’s wastewater treatment plant located at Frances S. Gabreski Airport. The bill would also allow for a plan by the Village to create a sewer district to protect water quality while ensuring the economic vitality of the business district.
“I am pleased that County Executive Bellone and my colleagues on the Legislature recognize the importance of this project for Suffolk County's economic and environmental health.” Said Legislator Fleming, who co-sponsored the resolution. “A thriving downtown Westhampton Beach and mitigation of Nitrogen pollution to Moneybogue Creek, Quantuck Bay and Moriches Bay will benefit our entire region.”
“The connection of this business district to a modern wastewater treatment plant is a win-win that will protect water quality and keep Westhampton Beach’s economy moving forward,” said Suffolk County Executive Bellone. “This is perfect example of how local governments can work cooperatively to share services and save taxpayer dollars."
Westhampton Beach officials considered building a new sewage treatment plant in the Village, but ultimately decided that it would be too expensive to do so. A Village sewer consultant has estimated that the Village will save about $7.4 million by contributing towards an expansion of the County’s treatment plant, known as Suffolk County Sewer District 24, which currently serves Gabreski Airport, the Air National Guard base and the companies located in the Hampton Business District.
The County’s treatment plant at Gabreski Airport will require modifications in order to accommodate the additional sewage from Westhampton Beach. The sewage treatment plant will use the connection fee of $1.8 million from the Village to offset the cost of the future modifications which will increase the plant’s capacity by 50 percent. Westhampton Beach will be expected to pay $80,000 a year to continue utilizing the treatment plant. The connection has received the approval from the Suffolk County Sewer Agency and is subject to approval from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Officials expect ground to be broken on the sewer district in late 2021.
The sewer district connection will allow for the Westhampton Beach’s business district to continue to expand and attract new business. The connection works to protect both the quality of water, by preventing nitrogen from entering the groundwater, and downtown vibrancy.
Suffolk County and Westhampton Beach anticipate the inclusion of this program in applying for matching funds from New York State for savings attained under the shared services initiative. The Suffolk County Shared Services Plan, SuffolkShare, was unanimously approved in September and is projected to save nearly $37 million over the course of two years among local governments. The plan is a comprehensive 10-point plan that provides a modern inter-municipal framework among participating municipalities to enhance service offerings and improve the ability for local governments to work together to implement and augment their programs and initiatives.
Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore said: “We were delighted to hear that the Legislature unanimously passed the resolution allowing for the Village’s connection to the Gabreski sewer treatment facility. The installation of sewers in Westhampton Beach will not only revitalize our Main Street, but will eliminate nearly 5,000 pounds of nitrogen annually from our bay. Thank you to County Executive Bellone and Legislator Fleming for requesting the resolution and to the Suffolk County Legislature for its support of this most important project.”
Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said: “The Town of Southampton is working very hard to restore our waterways and improve our septic systems without placing undue burden on property owners and businesses,” said Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman. “The County’s generous offer to help the Westhampton Beach Business district connect to the sewage treatment plant at Gabreski Airport is a smart way to ensure we are protecting the environment and helping the Westhampton Beach business district grow.”
Legislator Fleming understands the urgent need to protect our local waterways and estuaries, which play a vital role in our local communities and industries and are being threatened by the harmful effects that sewers and cesspools have on our groundwater resources and are a primary source of nitrogen pollution that has degraded water quality throughout Suffolk County, contributing to harmful algae blooms, beach closures and fish kills. “I look forward to continuing to work with many levels of government to deliver this great outcome to our community.” Legislator Fleming said.