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Schumer Reveals: North Hempstead is Locked Out of Using $2M in Fed Funds

Written by Long Island News & PR  |  04. May 2016

North Hempstead, NY - May 3, 2016 - U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to unlock $2 million in previously secured federal transportation funding for the Town of North Hempstead, by repurposing an old unused earmark.  In 2005, the Town of North Hempstead was awarded a $2 million earmark for a repaving project on Grand Boulevard, Westbury, however, the project was completed using other funding and so, the money was never spent. Until now, federal rules blocked the reuse of funds even if the project was no longer needed. However, a newly enacted Schumer-backed law now gives FHWA and NYSDOT the authority to repurpose any unspent money to newer projects nearby that are needed. This means there is new hope to both unlock these funds and put them to good use on local projects.  

“For over a decade, $2 million in funds for the Town of North Hempstead have been under lock and key, guarded by federal bureaucracy,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “But now we have the means to unlock this money and FHWA and NYSDOT should allow the Town of North Hempstead to use these funds on local, critically-needed projects that are ready-to-go,  like the revitalization of Port Washington’s Main Street. The bottomline is: these are the Town of North Hempstead’s dollars and they must remain the Town of North Hempstead’s to use on their projects. No ifs ands or buts about it.”

“This money was committed to the Town of North Hempstead, and just because the initial project is no longer needed doesn’t mean we should lose out on this federal investment in our local transportation infrastructure,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “Instead of letting this money continue to go unspent or seeing it diverted elsewhere, the Town of North Hempstead should be free to invest in other important local projects that are in need of funding right now, from upgrading roads in the Garden City Park Industrial Zone to completing the Hempstead Harbor Trail.”

“The repurposing of federal transportation dollars for North Hempstead is essential to assist us in completing projects that benefit our residents and improve our infrastructure. The funding would also reduce the need for borrowing for the projects, and that’s great news for the Town and its taxpayers,” said North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth.

Schumer said that there are several eligible and critically needed projects in the Town of North Hempstead that could benefit from this funding. However, without action, the funding could either continue to be locked away in federal coffers or be diverted elsewhere. Therefore, Schumer is urging FHWA and NYSDOT to allow the Town of North Hempstead to use these funds on four specific transportation projects in the Town of North Hempstead: revitalization of Port Washington’s Main Street, completion of the Hempstead Harbor Trail and the Plandome Road Culvert, and development of Garden City Park Industrial Zone.

In 2005, The Town of North Hempstead received a $2 million in federal funding for a large scale repaving project on Grand Blvd. The money was never spent and is no longer needed because in 2015, the Town of North Hempstead conducted a smaller repaving project on the street that significantly improved Grand Boulevard’s condition.

Schumer helped pass a new provision in the FY2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act includes that would finally allow for these funds to be unlocked and repurposed for a new project. Specifically, the provision provides States, in consultation with the FHWA, the authority to repurpose older unspent earmarks to new eligible projects. According to the rule, the funds could be used on a newly needed project within fifty miles of the original project. Otherwise, the funds must be used for the originally intended project or remain unspent.

Schumer today explained that because the Grand Boulevard project is no longer needed, the Town of North Hempstead wants to use the funding on other local projects. Schumer is urging NYSDOT and FHWA to reallocate the $2 million in funds to the following projects in the Town of North Hempstead:

Revitalization to Main Street, Port Washington ($500,000)
The improvements range from Port Washington Blvd to the Port Washington LIRR train station and comprise the 6 blocks of Main Street in Port Washington.  The work includes drainage improvements, storm drains and other infrastructure improvements to attract new businesses and improve a downtown community.(Project total is $1M)

Complete the Hempstead Harbor Shoreline Trail ($700,000)
The Hempstead Harbor Shoreline Trail is a popular local trail that is currently 1.25 miles long and funded with $800,000 from NYS Parks, Nassau County Bond Act, and local funds. Schumer said that $700k would help expand the popular trail to over 2 miles.  The development of this trail will significantly increase public access to the Hempstead Harbor coastal shoreline, provide scenic view corridors, preserve native plantings, provide interpretive signage, rest areas and preserve open space. The trail will act as a buffer for the Harbor and wetlands, enhancing water quality. The trail will provide a link to the recreational resources in the adjacent areas including North Hempstead Beach Park, Harbor Links Public Golf Course, playing fields and the Sand Miners Memorial into a recreational hub. (Project total is $1,867,000)

Complete the Plandome Road culvert reconstruction project ($500,000)
The Plandome Road Culvert connects Leeds Pond (a tidal pond) and Manhasset Bay.  The culvert is showing deterioration, and if it collapses it will sever Plandome Road, which is a major evacuation route for the Port Washington Peninsula. The Town obtained $1.5 million in state funds.  The project is expected to cost $2 million.  This project is shovel ready. (Project total is $2M)

Planning, design & engineering to support development of the Garden City Park Industrial Zone ($300,000)
The Garden City Park Industrial Zone is a section of Garden City Park, located between Herricks Road to the east, County Courthouse Road to the west, Jericho Tpke to the north and the LIRR main line to the South.  There is also a considerable amount of residences that borders the industrial zone.  Due to the large number of heavy vehicles that travel these roads every day, there is considerable damage done to these local roads.  This money would design and engineer a plan to upgrade these roads to handle the heavy traffic and not impose on the residential traffic. (Project total is $300,000)

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