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Civic Groups Coalition Seeks Greater Public Oversight of Sewage Privatization Proposal

Organization installs directors; passes resolution regarding how three sewage treatment plants will be handled.

The  Nassau County Coalition of Civic Associations (NCCCA) has installed eight regional directors and passed a resolution seeking greater public input and oversight on a proposal to hire a private operator to manage the county’s sewage treatment plants.

The resolution, passed by the new NCCCA regional directors at the group’s meeting Tuesday in Lido Beach, asks for legislative hearings on the sewage  and the appointment of a citizens advisory committee to provide input on the process.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s privatization proposal would involve selling or leasing the Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant in Wantagh, Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant in East Rockaway and Glen Cove Sewage Plant to a private company. On Monday, the Republican-controlled Nassau County Legislature’s rules committee approved by a party-line 4-3 vote a personal service contract with Wall Street giant Morgan Stanley to broker a deal for the county to privatize its sewage treatment system. The three companies who responded to the county’s Request for Proposal process to operate the plants include British sewage treatment system supplier Severn Trent PLC; Paris-based Veolia Environment SA, which has its American headquarters in Lombard, Ill.; and United Water, Inc. of Harrington Park.

“We believe that the public oversight is necessary to protect residents from a potential increase in cost to taxpayers, maintain local control and protect the environment, health and safety for the public,” said Raymond Pagano, president of the Oceanside Civic Association, who was appointed to the NCCCA’s executive board
representing Region 4 in southwest Nassau County.

In addition to Pagano, other civic leaders throughout Nassau County who were appointed regional directors during Tuesday’s NCCCA meeting at Lido Beach Town Park include:

  • Region 1- George Pombar, president of Todd Estates Civic Association in Glen Head
  • Region 2- Phil Healy-, president of Biltmore Shores Civic Association in Massapequa
  • Region 3- Patrice Benneward, president of Glenwood/Glenn Head Civic Association
  • Region 6- Claudia Borecky, president of North and Central Merrick Civic Association
  • Region 7- Phil Franco, president of Seaford Harbor Civic Association
  • Region 8- Greg Naham, vice president of Lido Homes Civic Association
  • Region 9- Xaviar Rodriquez, secretary of Locustwood/Gotham Civic Association in Elmont

Borecky, who helped form the NCCCA earlier this year, said they are still looking for a representative to cover Region 5, which encompasses many North Shore communities including Port Washington and Great Neck.

Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said under the proposed partnership, Nassau County would hire a vendor to manage the three sewage treatment plants beginning in 2013 and would maintain ownership of the facilities. Nevin said Mangano has pledged not to raise sewar rates. 

"A public-private partnership will seek to improve environmental performance and improve maintenance of the infrastructure," Nevin said. "Private operators have proposed to implement bulk purchasing, cut energy costs, shutdown obsolete equipment and make other operating improvements.

Residents from throughout the county attended the April 17 meeting and expressed concerns about the sewage privatization proposal, including Long Beach resident Scott Bochner from the Surfrider Foundation, who argued that the plan would be bad financially long-term.

"There is no reason to leverage out future for [sewage treatment plans]." Bochner said.

Nevin said the county is planning to host informational sessions aimed at informing the public of the facts related to implementing a public-private partnership

"The county will continue to explore a public-private partnership and only select an operator should it make sense for the community, environment and plants," he said. "Full transparency has been guaranteed by County Executive Mangano."

Phillip Franco April 20, 2012 at 11:35 AM
The County should manage the plants more efficiently; this proposed deal shows that there is great room for improvement that can currently be done without such a cumbersome arrangement.

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