When former State Senator Jack Martins came out of the Leeds Pond Culvert more than five years ago, he told Plandome Manor Mayor Barbara Donno that he would get emergency funding to repair the culvert because it was in a dilapidated state. He secured the grant funding for the Town of North Hempstead, which owns the culvert, in 2014.
The town accepted the grant in 2016 and put it out for bid in 2018, which was awarded to Woodstock Construction. Since then, the culvert has not seen any work done to it and its condition is only getting worse.
“If they had known before that there was constant deterioration and that this culvert was as bad as we told them it was, this work should have been done and would have been done a long time ago,” Donno said. “They have been sitting on $1.5 million for the last five years, there is no excuse.”
North Plandome Road, owned by the Village of Plandome Manor, rests on top of the culvert causing the villages concern for the cracks on the road and a noticeable depression.
“It could collapse and then the road is closed for good until it was fixed,” Donno said. “My concern is the safety of the cars going over it and the fact that there is a lot of heavy trucks.”
After the project was awarded, Woodstock Construction delayed the start of the project several times. The original start time was the fall 2018, but National Grid had a main line that needed to be worked around. Then, PSEG had to remove a pole so Woodstock’s equipment could get closer to the culvert. When the project was to commence in the spring of 2019, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) said it would not allow work to be done between April to June due to surrounding wildlife’s breeding season.
The next start was to be July 1, 2019, but that also was not to be true. Woodstock says that the metal sheeting for the project never came through and they needed to reorder the material.
“They were going to start July 1, 2019, and July 1 came and went,” Donno said. “They never started.”
This past fall, the Village of Plandome Manor asked for a meeting with the town to discuss the culvert project. In that meeting, the village asked the town to do an engineers report to see the condition of the culvert and if the road needed to be shut down to prevent a hazard.
“We asked if anybody had been inside this culvert,” Donno said. “They did tell us that no one had gone in that culvert since 2013. We asked them to have their engineer go in and take a look at it, and let us know if it is safe.”
The recent engineers report by the town says that the culvert is not stable. An emergency plan was set in place to stabilize the culvert by placing wooden beams to hold it up. The beams are supposed to go in during the week of Monday, Dec. 16.
After multiple delays, the newest start is July 1, 2020, but that comes with no certainty after recent complications on the matter.
“I think the supervisor understands now that it’s important to get this done,” Donno said. “Maybe it just falls through the cracks.”