Smithtown’s Town supervisor has approached a developerabout creating a shared sewer plant to service downtown St. James.
Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said he’s asked Gyrodyne LLC whether it would consider building a shared sewer treatment plant large enough to handle wastewater for the Lake Avenue business district on Flowerfield. The Flowerfield property off Route 25A in St. James is often used to host community festivals and contains freshwater wetlands that feed into Mill Pond in Stony Brook, Stony Brook Harbor and on into Long Island Sound.
“They said they would be amicable to having a conversation about it,” Wehrheim said.
“[Gyrodyne] said they would be amicable to having a conversation about it.”
— Ed Wehrheim
Gyrodyne has an application pending before Smithtown Planning Board to subdivide the 62 acres of Flowerfield property in St. James to construct a 150-room hotel with a restaurant and day spa, two medical office buildings and a 220-unit assisted living complex with its own sewage treatment facility. After substantial traffic concerns were raised at a Nov. 15, 2017, public hearing, the town has ordered Gyrodyne to complete a full environmental study of its proposal.
If the environmental study comes back clean, the supervisor said he believes this could pose a great opportunity for the town.
“They have ample property to build the sewage plant,” Wehrheim said. “Even after building the plant, their plans include keeping 30 acres of property undeveloped.”
He noted that the 4.5 acres set aside by Gyrodyne for a sewage treatment facility are not adjacent to any residential neighborhood. Wehrheim said he is also interested in seeing if the developer would be open to future discussions on providing sewers for Smithtown’s business district.
“Without sewering, we can’t do any kind of revitalization,” he said.
Paul Lamb, chairman of Gyrodyne’s board, confirmed that Wehrheim had reached out to the company, but declined any further comment until after his March 30 board meeting.
The town has approved $4.6 million in its 2018 capital budget program to fund St. James downtown business district improvements. This includes $2.4 million to tear open Lake Avenue to replace the town’s aging water mains.
“Without sewering, we can’t do any kind of revitalization.”
— Ed Wehrheim
Wehrheim said the Lake Avenue construction originally slated to start this May could potentially be delayed until 2019. The supervisor said he anticipates the town board will vote at its next meeting on hiring H2M architects to complete a study to determine if installing dry sewer lines would be economically feasible at this time, given the town’s plans for a sewer treatment plant are not solidified. The study, if approved, would take several months to complete and cost about $24,000, according to Wehrheim.
“What we are trying to eliminate is the excavation of the road for water mains, then rebuilding the road, sidewalks, curbs — about $2.6 million in restoration work — to find out a year later we have to cut the brand new roads back up,” he said. “It’s wasteful.”
If negotiations fail, town officials would be forced to return to their original plans which have a starting price tag of $65 million to sewer and build a plant for the Smithtown business district, according to Wehrheim.
Town officials are currently waiting for the state to pass an action that would authorize the town’s use of land proposed for Kings Park’s sewer treatment plant, according to Wehrheim. He hopes to have state approval as early as June.