Just in time for the holiday season, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony J. Santino and Councilman Bruce Blakeman are delivering one of the top items on the holiday wish list for the residents of the tiny island hamlet of Meadowmere Park. The $2.4 million gift comes in the form of a reconstructed bridge that connects the island hamlet to the Queens County mainland. What’s more, the storm-damaged structure is the only secondary means of access to the island for pedestrian use, emergency vehicle response as well as resident and vehicle evacuation in the event of floods, fire and other emergencies. The only other means of access to Meadowmere Park is a low-lying road that was submerged under several feet of water during Hurricane Sandy, which resulted in residents of the 100 home community being stranded during the Superstorm. Joining Santino and Blakeman at a press briefing on the bridge project was Ruth Samuelson, Meadowmere Park resident and an advocate for community reconstruction projects.
“Putting a holiday bow on a bridge can present a challenge,” said Santino as he and Blakeman delivered a gift box with a tag that announced “Meadowmere Park Bridge.” “This is probably the best Christmas or Hanukkah present that neighbors who live in Meadowmere Park could receive. A newly reconstructed bridge for their hometown means easy access for residents who wish to walk to local stores on the mainland, as well as critically important safety access in the event of floods or other emergencies. After all, it is the only secondary point of access to this entire island community.”
The Town Board approved a Request for Proposals at its December 13th meeting to seek a firm to produce plans for the reconstructed bridge and oversee the project’s construction. The new bridge will be built to withstand future storm surges, and will feature expanded width to accommodate emergency vehicle use and evacuation needs in the event of an emergency. Nonetheless, the structure will not be open to vehicular traffic, except for authorized emergency vehicles. Also, it will maintain its attractive suburban charm and character, using wood planking and railings, along with wooden pile supports. Associated road grading, shoreline stabilization and other drainage work will accompany the new bridge.
The Five Towns New York Rising Community Reconstruction Plan that was crafted in March of 2014 provided for the rebuilding of the bridge and would utilize federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant monies specifically designated for storm recovery. The CDBG-R (Community Development Block Grant-Recovery) will flow through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery as part of the N.Y. Rising Program. Hempstead Town and its Engineering Department have drafted the Request for Proposals and are responsible for execution and oversight of the project, which includes total projected cost of $2.355 million.
“Government officials and neighbors worked hard together to help rebuild Meadowmere Park after Hurricane Sandy,” stated Blakeman. “This bridge will be a genuine and symbolic example of how we can bring communities together and make them stronger in the aftermath of tragic events.”
Santino and Blakeman indicated that they are focused on advancing the project in an expeditious and comprehensive manner, setting a date of January 18, 2017 for prospective consultants to submit proposals to the town. The township’s Engineering Department anticipates executing a contract with a successful consultant in March of 2017 with architectural and design work to follow. Town officials are hopeful that construction work will commence in the 2017 calendar year.
“The community of Meadowmere Park will have one more present under the tree this year as we set the stage for the new Meadowmere Park Bridge,” concluded Santino. “Indeed, it is the gift that will keep on giving in the form of increased convenience and safety for homeowners on this enchanted island.”