Aqua New York is expected to withdraw its application for a 158-foot water tower in Wantagh Monday morning at a press conference, according to a Town of Hempstead spokesperson.
“Thanks to the voices of the residents, Aqua is expected to hand a letter to the board of appeals requesting to withdraw,” the town spokesperson said.
After pleas from local community members, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullen played a key role in this move in July by sending a letter to Aqua asking for them to consider a less intrusive plan and to hold a community meeting.
The company proposed the tower to address water pressure problems in its service area. The new tower was to be built on DeMott Avenue in Wantagh, which is situated close to the Seaford-Oyster Bay Expressway, along with two one-story structures that would house a electrical/chemical and water well at the same location. Aqua’s facility on Jefferson Street in Merrick often is at lower pressure levels than needed, according to Aqua officials.
“We have to do something to correct the water pressures that we have in the system,” Aqua New York president Matt Snyder previously stated during a community meeting on the issue. “We have to come up with a project that alleviates this problem.”
The water tower, which has faced tough criticism from local Wantagh and Seaford residents, was scheduled for a hearing in front of the Town of Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals on Aug. 10 after an original postponement from a hearing in June. Fred Parola of the Wantagh/Seaford Homeowner’s Association asked for the June hearing to be adjourned “so that community residents would have more time to learn about Aqua’s proposed project.”
Aqua held a community meeting at Wantagh High School on July 12 to discuss that, due to local community concerns, a more expensive alternative to the water tower would be considered. According to Snyder, the alternative proposal would include a ground storage tank. The tank would cost approximately $2.5 million, as opposed to the $2 million price tag for the water tower. Snyder added that “the operating costs would be more expensive.”
Many Wantagh and Seaford residents have voiced concerns about the water tower project. According to a Wantagh.LI survey, out of 172 respondents, 86 percent do not think that the proposed water tower should be built. 11 percent are in favor of the project, while 3 percent are still undecided, the survey said.
Stacey Genovese, a resident who lives next to the DeMott Avenue location and helped to organized the Wantagh.LI survey, explained that she is “pleased that Aqua is listening to the community's objections and researching alternative plans.”
“I'm looking forward to hearing from Aqua how they plan to address the issue of not having a minimum of 35psi in their system at all times while protecting the property values and community in Wantagh,” she added.
AQUA services approximately 152,000 people in the New York City metropolitan area, including Seaford, Wantagh, Merrick, Levittown, Bellmore, Massapequa, East Massapequa and sections of Glen Cove. The South East Nassau Water Authority (SENWA) recently reconvened in June to discussed possibly taking over Aqua because of complaints of high rates.