Village ready to reject state funds for drainage project

Fifth Street Park Greenport drainage swaleA controversial proposal to build a drainage swale in a large portion of Fifth Street park went down without much of a fight at Thursday’s Greenport Village board work session, despite the fact that village had received a $287,000 state grant for the project.

“Basically there’s no support for it,” Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said to a crowd of residents opposed to the plan. “I don’t think there’s any support on the board and I don’t don’t think there’s support in the community”

Although the village could lose the $287,000 state Environmental Facilities Corporation grant for the swale project, which was initiated a few years ago, Mr. Hubbard suggested the board “scrap the plan and be done with it.”

That drew loud applause from the 20 or so  residents in attendance.

A group of residents met with Village officials at the park Monday and voiced their opposition to the drainage plan, which they felt took too large a portion of the park.

“This is going to ruin the park,” resident John Winkler said at that meeting. “It’s going to take a lot of this park away and this is a park that is used by everyone.”

The state grant covered the Fifth Street project and another drainage project on Manor Place, which is not opposed by residents.

Village officials had designed an alternate plan to move a portion of the swale to the Sixth Street portion of the park, but the state rejected that because it didn’t meet the state’s depth-to-groundwater requirements, according to village administrator Paul Pallas.

The village is awaiting an answer from state officials on whether a portion of that grant money can still be used on the Manor Place project or whether it has to give up the grant entirely, Mr. Pallas said.

The village had already provided about $30,000 of engineering work as its portion of the matching grant, and officials don’t think they’ll get that money back if they reject the grant.

But that’s apparently not stopping them from doing so.

“We’re going to bite the bullet,” Mayor Hubbard said, saying that if the state funding can’t be used on the Manor Place project, the village will do it without state funding.

“We’re being unfair to ourselves if don’t try to find a way to save the $280,000,” Trustee Doug Roberts said, which was greeted with boos from the highly sensitive audience.

“I think what Trustee Roberts is trying to say is that we need to find out if we can get a portion of the grant money moved over the Manor Place project,” Trustee Mary Bess Phillips interjected.

The Village Board is to expected formally vote on rejecting the grant at its regular meeting Thursday, by which time it may also receive word on whether the money can be used for Manor Place.

Caption: Greenport village administrator Paul Pallas, right, discusses drainage plans for Fifth Street Park with community members Monday. (File photo credit: Grant Parpan)