The Seaford School District mailed a letters Thursday to local elected officials asking for financial assistance for its long-planned goal of building an emergency access road project at the Seaford Harbor School property.
The letter explains the dire need Seaford has for the emergency access road and the particular importance of the project in wake of Superstorm Sandy. A referendum for the estimated $596,719 access road project, which would have be paid for by leftover funds from a capital improvements proposition approved in December 2007, failed by 238 votes in May 2010.
The letter, which was posted on the district's website, is copied below.
Dear Public Official,
As you know firsthand, the Seaford community south of Merrick Road suffered a great deal ofdamage caused by the storm surge flooding created by Hurricane Sandy. Like many Long Island communities, many Seaford residents have a long road ahead of them to fully restore or rebuild thedamage caused by this devastating weather event. Many are counting on the assistance of theirinsurance companies and FEMA funds to rebuild their property and return to a normal life.
The Seaford community thanks each of you for your part in obtaining funds to help our neighborsrebuild their homes and also for your generosity over the years with funding, grants and other supportin our mission to deliver the highest quality education to the students of Seaford.
However, the Seaford community is faced with an issue which prompts us to reach out to you to obtain assistance that if not addressed, may result in tragedy with the loss of life. With Hurricane Sandy causing great damage to Seaford and Long Island, and the tragic event at Newtown, the time to act is now.
Currently, we have 598 elementary students and 115 school staff that attend and work in the Seaford Harbor School on any given day. In addition, we have many activities during and after school hours, with many residents participating at the school.
To put this in perspective, with regard to the recent hurricane and the surge from the watersnearby, we were fortunate that the Seaford Harbor School building, our community’s southern-mostschool, did not suffer any water damage due to its topography, which is several feet higher than thesurrounding residences. However the flooding of the surrounding roadways in the wake of the stormonly underscored the urgent and inescapable need for a proper alternate emergency access/egressroad to and from the school. Had school been in session and the storm caused a sudden floodingsituation, attempts to evacuate the students and staff would have been hampered with unknown consequences.
Furthermore, the recent tragedy at Newtown caused every school district to re-evaluate safety andsecurity measures. Specific to the Newtown tragedy, had that occurred at the Seaford Harbor School,the resulting panic with parents rushing to the school would have created a situation whereby firstresponders would not have been able to gain access to the school, and more importantly, egress andemergency evacuation would have been impossible. If you look at the number of rescue vehicles andparents rushing to the Sandy Hook School, which had a much different layout than the Harbor School,rescue attempts for us would have been tragic. That scenario is very easy to picture, but one that wehope will never happen.
Over the past several months, many schools including Seaford have had false alarms about gunsand/or explosive devices with notes that allege mass destruction or harm to occupants. We donot take these lightly, since the threat has now become a reality in many instances. The effectsof Hurricane Sandy and the most recent tragic event at Newtown have only further intensified theserious consequences of not bringing this public safety project to completion. Even on days wherethere is no discernible weather or emergency issue, the safety concerns in this area are easilyobservable. The normal flow of student walkers, cars and buses to and from the school at arrival anddismissal time on the only road that leads into and out of Bayview Avenue, creates a congested trafficsituation that is dangerous and no longer tolerable.
Adding to this is the public statement made by Legislator Dennis Dunne at a meeting last year wherehe publicly stated that if the Cedar Creek water treatment plant ever exploded, which is quite possibledue to methane gas, that event could have dire consequences to anyone in that area, again creatinga dangerous situation for our school.
In May of 2011, Seaford’s voters rejected a plan to use the remaining funds from a 2007 bond issuefor the building of this envisioned emergency access road. The district had worked closely withNassau County government and gained the assistance and support of our local elected officials toobtain the land and permits to begin the project. Understandably, the sentiment of the communityat the time of the vote and today is that this school district should not be in the business of building roads. This is especially true when the road to be built is connecting roads and land that is not ownedby the Seaford School District. Considering the limited school revenues we have at our disposal eachyear that are desperately needed to be used for the preservation, restoration and advancement of oureducational programs in this difficult economic era, you can see why the residents do not feel it is theirresponsibility to build this much needed road.
Additionally, in lieu of the recent passing of tax cap legislation that has been passed on to schooldistricts, this further places us at a disadvantage to operate in our mission to deliver a qualityeducation.
In light of the fact that federal assistance has been approved to repair and improve storm ravagedareas and to improve the existing infrastructure, it is the strong belief within the school district andthe greater Seaford community that some of these funds or other governmental funding should beallocated for this important and long-needed access road project that will have an immediate positiveimpact on improving the safety of the students and staff of the Seaford Harbor School and the nearbyresidents.
The Seaford School District and community are seeking your support and your guidance on howbest to make the Seaford Harbor School emergency access road project a funded priority within theparameters of the recently acquired federal disaster aid and/or ask you to secure funding for this project through regular governmental allocations. Please help us to bring this long needed project to a positive conclusion before another weather disaster or emergency event endangers the safetyof our students, staff and residents. We are willing to share any information we have concerning thehistory of the building’s original construction as well as the current engineering and design plans andpermits which only await accompanying funds for this process to move positively forward.
The time to act is now! The school district is not in the business of building roads. Waiting for otherways to fund this project is not the way to resolve this, but to gain your support and funding is.
It is our desire to avoid tragedy, and with your help we can do that.
We thank you for your attention to this important matter and appreciate your future efforts to make thisproject a reality. We are also available to meet with you at your offices to further discuss this.
Board of Education
Seaford Union Free School District
Brian W. Fagan, President
Richard G. DiBlasio, Vice President
Bruce A. Kahn, Trustee
Susan Ruona, Trustee
Jeanmarie Wink, Trustee
Seaford Union Free School District
Brian L. Conboy, Superintendent
John A. Striffolino, Assistant Superintendent
Alan S. Phillips, Interim Assistant Superintendent
Andrew H. Ward, Director of Facilities andOperations
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo