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Jan 11, 2012 11:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village Urges County Not To Install Sump

Jan 11, 2012 11:52 AM

A massive sump surrounded by a vinyl-coated, 6-foot-tall chain-link fence is slated to be installed near one of the last undeveloped entrances to Southampton Village as part of a Suffolk County road project. But village officials and residents who live near the site on North Main Street claim the recharge basin would adversely affect the character of the neighborhood and are calling on the county to come up with a different plan.

Sumps, or recharge basins, are artificial ponds that collect water through storm drains and are designed to filter stormwater back into the underground aquifer. County officials said one is needed to collect road runoff and keep motorists safe from having to drive through deep puddles on the road.

The addition of a 12½-foot-deep, 250-foot-by-100-foot sump is part of a $5 million project to widen County Road 39, a project being funded 80 percent by the state and 20 percent by Suffolk County, according to Jim Peterman, the chief deputy commissioner for the Suffolk County Department of Public Works.

He said the county anticipates starting the project in May, although a timetable will not be available until a bidder is selected. It is expected to be completed by the summer of 2013, he said.

The recharge basin would be created at the southeast corner of North Main Street and County Road 39, a currently wooded parcel in the village owned by the county.

Southampton Village officials are arguing that county-owned sumps are poorly maintained and would therefore mar a main village entrance near one of its historic districts. Poor maintenance would also encourage dumping, create a haven for mosquitoes and hinder the operation of the basin, officials said.

“My thing with Suffolk County and the creation of these sumps is that they don’t maintain them,” Mayor Mark Epley said this week. “The problem is where they want to put it. They own the land, so the village has no say in what they want to do.”

The mayor said he has tried to offer alternatives to the county but so far has been unsuccessful in getting county officials on board. On Tuesday, he sent a letter addressed to William Hillman, chief engineer at the Suffolk County Department of Public Works, suggesting that the county work with the village. The village, for example, has a special vacuum truck it uses to regularly clean sumps.

“I recognize the importance of the improvement project to the East End and the safety issues associated with road water management,” Mr. Epley stated in his letter. “I would like to propose the possibility of an underground catch basin and leaching field in replacement of the recharge basin. The village could enter into an inter-municipal agreement to maintain the catch basin.”

But Mr. Peterman said the proposed site is ideal for catching road runoff because the road slopes to a low point there and is already in the county right-of-way. He said the sump would replace leaching bins, which are sufficient for small rainfall only.

“But when we do a job, we try to plan for the worst-case scenario, heavy rainfalls,” Mr. Peterman said. “It’s a standard that we do on any reconstruction job.”

The basin would be surrounded by a 6-foot-tall, black, vinyl-coated, chain-link fence. The county plans to plant more than 130 “evergreen-type” plants around the sump, such as eastern red cedars, Leyland cypress trees, white pines and some arborvitae, Mr. Peterman said. He did not have a breakdown of how much the sump portion of the project would cost, as the county is still accepting bids for the work.

The county considered using existing recharge basins, but “capacity and grading issues” prevented it from doing so, according to a letter signed by Mr. Hillman and addressed to an attorney representing Perry DeLalio Jr. and his wife, Sarah DeLalio, who live just south of the spot in question and who object to the sump. The same letter states that funds allocated for the project did not allow for the purchase of land for drainage purposes.

As for maintenance, the basin would require little, Mr. Peterman said. “Probably once every five years we have to go de-silt the bottom of it,” Mr. Peterman said.

But that is not enough for the DeLalios.

“The county does absolutely nothing to maintain any of the pieces that they put in,” Ms. DeLalio said on Friday. “There are numerous ones in the area that just look like garbage pits.”

The DeLalios argue that the plan is a “cookie-cutter” one that would ruin an area that borders a historic district and preserved farmland.

“It’s kind of a ‘We’ve got the money, we’re going to do what we want’ attitude,” Ms. DeLalio said. “It’s one of the last residential entrances to Southampton Village that hasn’t been completely commercialized.”

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The county wants to widen the road....For what purpose? So people can get to the traffic jam at Hampton road faster? Seems like it would be better to spend that money in improving traffic flow on Hampton Road though Watermill rather than widening the road there.
By Toma Noku (616), uptown on Jan 11, 12 4:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
Yes, pushing the bottleneck back helps, even if it is a little. People complained about the original widening and you can't argue its success. Widening from Hampton Rd. thru Water Mill should be next but who knows.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Jan 14, 12 8:23 PM
The Mayor is a joke. He let the developers destroy the last farmland on Wickapogue and now he wants to save this little corner. What a joke.
By SHDC (3), Southampton on Jan 12, 12 9:30 AM
How do you propose the Mayor alone can stop a property owner from developing "as of right" land he owns ?
By smacw (240), New York on Jan 12, 12 11:16 AM
The Delalio's are going to lose the driveway they installed across the county property, its not the sump. The best thing the county could do is install the fence down the slope of the sump and not at the top, then plant along the top to essentialy hide the sump and fence.
By 11953guest (48), southampton on Jan 12, 12 10:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
I wonder if his tune would change if he won the bid for the job.
By Local dad (51), North Sea on Jan 15, 12 1:11 PM