By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
State Rep. Dorinda Borer and Mayor Nancy R. Rossi announced $5.2 million in state funding May 26 to complete the raising of a section of Beach Street and First Avenue that was 5 feet underwater during Superstorm Sandy.
“This was two years in the making of trying to educate federal, state and local agencies on the importance of this project to West Haven,” said Borer (D-115). “We had a few doors close on us along the way, but as the old saying goes, ‘When one door closes, find a window,’ and we did.
“I am grateful to the mayor and my area colleagues for their support and everyone who played a key part in securing these funds and prioritizing this project.”
Rossi said: “During my time as mayor, I have strongly advocated to raise Beach Street to mitigate the risks of future extreme weather events and to promote economic development. Thank you to our state delegation for supporting this project.”
Borer and Rossi heralded the money during a news conference attended by more than two dozen residents, including city leaders and members of West Haven’s General Assembly delegation, at the Sandy Point Beach & Bird Sanctuary on Beach Street. West Haven Fire Department Chief James P. O’Brien discussed the public safety aspect of the project.
They were joined by state Sens. Gary Winfield, (D-10), and James Maroney (D-14); state Reps. Charles J. Ferraro (R-117), and Michael A. DiMassa (D-116); City Council Chairman Ronald M. Quagliani (D-at large); council members Gary Donovan (D-at large), Colleen O’Connor (R-at large), William X. Conlon (D-2), Robbin Watt Hamilton (D-5), Robert Bruneau (D-9), and Barry Lee Cohen (R-10); city Treasurer Michael P. Last; and Lou Esposito, Rossi’s executive assistant.
The $5.2 million obtained by Borer and the delegation is for phases two and three of the state and federal project.
The necessary $3.5 million in funding for phase one had previously been secured in the amount of $2.94 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery program and $560,000 from the city.
Phase one got underway last week, said Rossi, who added that she plans to hold a public hearing for phases two and three of the work.
“Our shoreline is truly one of West Haven’s greatest recreational and economic assets,” Rossi said. “This project is vitally important in protecting our neighborhoods and will help ignite economic development on the Beach Street corridor.”
City Engineer Abdul Quadir, who also spoke at the news event, said the $8.7 million project includes raising a 3,750-foot stretch of First Avenue and Beach Street from Monahan Place, near the wastewater treatment plant, to Morse Avenue, near the former Chick’s Drive-in restaurant.
Elevations will range from 2 to 5 feet, based on existing topography, he said.
Quadir said the project also includes new sidewalks, sewers and utilities, as well as a two-way bike lane for future connection to a regional shoreline bikeway system.
On Oct. 29, 2012, during Sandy, the Water Pollution Control Plant at 2 Beach St. was inaccessible to staff and emergency vehicles for nearly 12 hours due to extensive flooding.
In the wake of the superstorm, the city has taken steps to make the shoreline more resilient to tidal flooding and coastal storms, including dredging the Old Field Creek salt marsh off Beach Street, thanks to federal funding to help Connecticut municipalities make such improvements.