The Town of Smithtown received good news Jan. 27.
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) signed legislation last Friday to provide the town with an additional $5.4 million for the Kings Park Business Sewer District Project. A press conference took place in the hamlet’s Svatt Square to mark the occasion.
The funding is possible due to money the county received through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed by President Joe Biden (D).
Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) and Town Board members, with Kings Park Chamber of Commerce and KP Civic Association representatives, joined state and county elected officials as well as Bellone and Deputy County Executive Peter Scully, for the announcement and signing.
Scully said the project initially was made possible by a $20 million state transformative program grant in 2014. With rising construction costs, expenses have increased for the project.
With the additional $5.4 million from the county, contracts were awarded to Holbrook-based G&M Earth Moving, ALAC Contracting Corp. in West Babylon and Amityville-based L.E.B. Electric.
Bellone called it “a great day” and thanked Wehrheim.
“This doesn’t happen without his leadership here and the Town Board,” the county executive said.
He also thanked county and state officials for working together in a bipartisan manner and the community, which he said is critical to working on projects such as this.
“A significant step forward in any community, in any way, is not possible without the work and the support of residents and the businesses in the community,” he said.
Bellone said sewers would be coming to Kings Park this year. He added construction would break ground in the coming weeks, and there would be community meetings to lay out the construction schedules and paperwork will be finalized.
“Make no mistake, the contracts have been awarded, the project is happening now,” he said.
Pipes will connect sewers to the Kings Park treatment plant located on the property of the former psychiatric hospital.
Bellone said the project “highlights how much more we need to do” regarding improving water quality on the Island. He added about 360,000 homes in the region are operating on old septic and cesspool systems.
“We have to address this issue in a way that is affordable for homeowners,” Bellone said. “That burden cannot be placed on them.”
He added investments in wastewater infrastructure are critical for a prosperous economic future.
With other Suffolk County areas needing sewer systems, including St. James, Bellone said, “This represents what we need to be doing all across the county.”
Wehrheim echoed Bellone’s sentiment that the project was a team effort, and he thanked the members of all levels of government and the chamber, civic and community.
“Without the cooperation and all working together, things like this will never come to fruition,” Wehrheim said.
The supervisor, who is a native of Kings Park, said he was proud “of what we’ve done here,” adding, “The future is bright for the Town of Smithtown as far as economic development goes, economic success and, especially just as important, environmental issues to clean up waters.”
Tony Tanzi, president of KP Chamber of Commerce, said, “Some would say we’re at the end of the road. Personally, I think this is the beginning of the road.”
He added he believes Kings Park will soon resemble the robust downtown it was decades ago.
“When you take politics out of it, we can all work together — and that’s the beautiful thing,” Tanzi said.