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Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (center left) and Village of Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson (center right) joined by representatives from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office. (Photo from Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti’s Facebook)

Erosion And Flooding In The Village Of Baxter Estates

Local elected officials bring attention to storm damaged areas on the coast

After some heavy rain and wind storms, combined with the few snow storms that hit the North Shore, road flooding and beach erosion have been more prevalent. Residents have reported flooding on roads in Port Washington, such as Shore Road, leading to longer commutes, debris littering the road and more beach erosion.

Port Washington’s local elected officials have been working on making these issues on the peninsula known to the state to help get funding to fix the coast. Most recently, New York State Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti and the Village of Baxter Estates Mayor Nora Haagenson visited Baxter Beach with some representatives from Governor Kathy Hochul’s office to assess the erosion first hand.

Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti and associates viewing the eroded coast of Port Washington.

“I’ve sent them information about Baxter Beach, but it’s one thing to see it on paper, it’s quite another to see it in person. To see the erosion, to see where there’s nothing under the sidewalk because it’s all been kind of pulled out. It’s incredible to see,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti.

Baxter Beach is located on Shore Road, along the coast between Central Drive, past Mill Pond, and ends toward the start of the Village of Port Washington North.

Assemblywoman Sillitti and Mayor Haagenson shared that the Village of Baxter Estates and surrounding areas have been working to get funding for this area for a long time.

“It’s gotten particularly worse over the last couple of years because of the flooding and the intense rain that we’ve been having,” said Mayor Haagenson. “But, I’ve been working on this project since 2015 and it’s very hard to get funding for this because our beach is very small.”

Although Baxter Beach is so small, the beach is on Shore Road, which is the main entry and exit for the Village of Baxter Estates, Port Washington North, Manorhaven and Sands Point.

Assemblywoman Sillitti and her team did an estimate and found that roughly 12,000 residents are using this road. Mayor Haagenson shared that she estimates about 8,000 cars travel the road weekly.

“It’s not an insignificant number of people. There are two ways off the top of the peninsula. One is Port Washington Boulevard, and the other one is Shore Road,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti. “The storm patterns have gotten more intense. A couple of weeks ago there was a heavy storm, and what happened is it immobilized the whole north end of Port Washington.”

It’s usually a two-minute trip down those roads, but when there is flooding or debris and the road is cut off, it can turn into a 30-minute trip home to navigate the traffic now flowing through the back roads. First responders are working hard during flood times to ensure people are rerouted and any vehicles stuck in flooded areas get out.

Because Shore Road is a county road, when debris clogs up the road after a storm or flood, Nassau County street cleaners have to come clean it, which can take a few hours since other areas across the county are also affected.

After being elected into office in 2020, Assemblywoman Sillitti initiated her first funding request in 2021 for help with the erosion in her district. She submitted pictures and videos of the flooding and erosion and has been consistently bringing elected officials down to view the damage.

In Governor Hochul’s State of the State Address, she mentioned the priority for resilience projects on Long Island. Most recently, Governor Hochul announced new state funding to the town of Babylon and a new partnership with Suffolk County to help stabilize the shoreline. “This funding will improve the ability of these assets in the face of extreme weather, sea level rise, and other ongoing climate change challenges affecting the region,” said a press release from the office of Governor Hochul.

“Long Island communities are all too familiar with the destruction caused by extreme weather,” Governor Hochul said. “In addition to New York’s actions to combat climate change, we are taking action to ensure our communities, homes and infrastructure are resilient and will withstand the coastal storms happening now.”

Assemblywoman Sillitti and Baxter Estates Mayor Haagenson are hopeful that Port Washington’s erosion and flooding will be considered for resilience project funding.

“We have tentative plans that we’re talking about, but we need funding. What I’d like to do is to build something like a rip-rap wall, with those giant rocks and waterfront plantings that would hold the soil. There’s the right kinds of plantings that really can exist living underwater,” said Mayor Haagenson. “This is not just for aesthetics, this has to be done for safety. The sidewalk is being undermined. The beach is so badly eroded at this point that the sand has been taken out.”

Baxter Beach erosion along Shore Road. (Photos from Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti’s Facebook)

There are temporary solutions to the erosion and flooding that could help make sure the road is safe in case of a storm. But a long term solution is too expensive for a small village to handle. “It’s just a matter of finding the funding to get it done. And that’s what I’m focused on,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti. “We all live here. We want to be safe. It’s becoming a public safety issue if it wasn’t already before. It’s dangerous for residents. It’s dangerous for first responders.”

“So right now, obviously the road is fine. There’s no danger to anybody driving on it, but I want to get this solution done before it does make a big deal,” said Assemblywoman Sillitti. “So, that’s what the mayor’s goal is, that’s my goal, and that’s what we’ve been impressing upon our state and federal partners.”

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