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Feb 5, 2016 10:27 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Westhampton Beach Village Board Taps H2M To Map Sewer District

Westhampton Village Board members opted to push the CVS special exception application to March after receiving the last bit of required information from the applicant, Sunset West LLC of Manhattan. GREG WEHNER
Feb 10, 2016 9:39 AM

Westhampton Beach Village Board members have accepted a proposal from Melville-based H2M Architects to map and plan a sewage treatment system for the municipality.

At a board meeting on Thursday, February 4, that was not attended by Mayor Maria Moore due to a family obligation, the other four village trustees agreed to spend $71,000 on the two documents. The plan also calls for a complete environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA.

H2M Architects are now charged with designing a sewage treatment system for the village, one that would most likely call for the construction of a sewage treatment facility and be concentrated along Main Street and the village’s business district.

Included in that cost, Ms. Moore said this week, will be a separate $11,000 study examining ongoing nitrogen-loading into nearby Moniebogue Canal and Moniebogue Bay, which will be completed by Dr. Christoper Gobler, a marine science professor at Stony Brook Southampton. People have speculated that the health of the nearby canal and bay can be traced to the buried septic systems of nearby homes, shops and restaurants.

The study should identify how a wastewater treatment facility will help improve the quality of both water bodies, information that the village will need in order to apply and possibly secure grant money to help cover the cost of the project, which is expected to run in the millions, according to Ms. Moore.

Board members said they opted to go with H2M Architects and not the Bowne AE&T Group of Mineola, the other firm that had submitted a proposal for the work, because of the Melville company’s familiarity with the area. The Bowne AE&T Group’s proposal would have cost $132,500; $78,200 to map and examine the costs of building a new sewage treatment plant, and $54,300 to create a map and also determine the feasibility of connecting with the treatment plant already in operation at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

“Simply put, the board felt that H2M fit the needs of our particular project, partly because they designed the treatment plant at Gabreski and are intimately familiar with it,” Village Board member Brian Tymann said in an email. “Bowne was also fantastic and offered some great expertise but in the end the board decided that H2M knew a lot of the intricacies of our little village as a result of having been involved with the sewer project when it almost came to fruition about 10 years ago.”

Mr. Tymann added that former Village Board member Tim Laube had worked closely with H2M Architects when the idea of possibly expanding the sewage system at the Suffolk County-owned airport to Westhampton Beach had first been floated before ultimately being abandoned by the prior administration.

According to Frank Russo, senior vice president and director of wastewater engineering at H2M, a public meeting with village officials is scheduled for this Thursday, February 11, at 10 a.m. at Village Hall to discuss project expectations. The meeting will also help solidify when the work should begin and be completed.

Mr. Russo pointed out that he and his team will be looking into all three options that they had presented to the board in December. Those include possibly tapping into the sewage treatment plant at the Gabreski Airport, constructing a new facility at the Westhampton Beach Department of Public Works headquarters that sits off Old-Riverhead Road and just south of the airport, and constructing the facility at the village’s former DPW property on South Country Road on Quiogue, a 13-acre piece of property the village still owns.

The idea of a new sewer system in Westhampton Beach has long been considered a political football. In 2006, Mr. Laube and former Fox news anchor John Roland ran for the Village Board with the idea of creating sewers. Mr. Laube was seeking reelection and Mr. Roland was running against then-Mayor Conrad Teller for the mayor’s seat.

Both Mr. Laube and Mr. Roland lost, and many observers believe their defeat was largely due to their sewer district initiative. Their plan was slightly different as in exchange for being allowed to hook up to the county’s sewage treatment plant at the airport, village officials would have had to be open to allowing the construction of affordable housing along the west side of Old Riverhead Road.

As part of their study, H2M officials will look into whether any similar stipulations would come into play if the village wants to hook up with the Gabreski plant, Mr. Russo said. He does not think that is the case, however.

Village Board member Rob Rubio echoed Mr. Russo’s statement, noting that there are no known stipulations at this time. He added that the board should know for certain once the study is complete in about four months.

At the same time, Mr. Rubio said there are both environmental and economic reasons to pursue a sewer district in the village.

“This is about where are we going to be in 20 years,” he said. “We have problems with nitrates in the land and waterways, and we want to clean it up. And it will help business to thrive on Main Street. It’s going to open up the village so we can offer more.”

CVS Vote Pushed Back

Westhampton Beach residents will have to wait until next month to find out whether a CVS Pharmacy will be allowed to open in the village.

The Village Board delayed making a decision on an application for a special exception permit that could allow the chain drug store to open in the old bowling alley building on Sunset Avenue until March. The developer hopes to take the now gutted 20,000-square-foot building and redesign it to include a 10,000-square-foot store that would cut diagonally through the middle of the building, with three additional stores on each side, one of which could be used as a restaurant.

On January 20, the Village Board held a second and final public hearing on the application, and speculated that it might vote on the plan at last Thursday night’s meeting. However, the vote is now scheduled for next month.

According to Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore, who was not in attendance at last week’s meeting, the board only this week received the last bit of information needed from the applicant, Sunset West LLC of Manhattan, to consider the application.

Prior to board members closing last month’s hearing, Westhampton Beach Village Attorney Stephen Angel pointed out that they could not make a final decision on the application that evening, explaining that the applicant must still finalize certain aspects of the State Environmental Quality Review Act report that is also mandated. Kyle Collins, the village’s planning consultant, notified Sunset West LLC several weeks ago that it had to submit missing information prior to the board voting on the application. According to Mr. Tymann, that missing information included minor details, such as where the building’s dumpsters would be located.

The vote on the CVS application is now expected to come at the board’s next meeting on Thursday, March 3.

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Just to be perfectly clear, the special exception permit application is for the property owner to be allowed to have a 10,000 square foot space in this building. That's all. The application is NOT for a CVS. The only involvement that CVS has is that according to the property owner, they are interested in leasing the 10,000 square foot space. I, and the board, are not, and cannot, vote for a specific store to open there. Maybe CVS will sign a lease. Maybe a different store will.
Also, the board's ...more
By briantymann (31), westhampton beach on Feb 6, 16 8:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
I cannot wait until something is done to that property.
By GoldenBoy (342), EastEnd on Feb 7, 16 8:12 AM
1 member liked this comment
Westhampton Beach looks very shabby these days. From the old Dora's, the corner gas station, to the North Mall vacancy, to the old Jonesey's property, to the bowling alley property to the Waldbaums. This "look" is not good for the village and Patchogue looks better these days compared to our once gracious standing of being the first Hampton.

Property values are being affected, residents are being affected and businesses are suffering.

DO SOMETHING!
By whatapity (106), Tuckahoe on Feb 7, 16 10:55 AM
2 members liked this comment
maybe you shouldnt have bought the only night club in town to put an african american coast guard museum. Just a thought
By CorVaa (5), on Mar 22, 16 2:51 PM
The Hampton Classic, Horse Show, Bridgehampton