The Manhasset Chamber of Commerce has circulated a petition requesting a feasibility study to investigate the cost of creating sewers on Plandome Road.
Plandome Road currently pumps wastewater into underground cesspools, which is both costly for businesses and detrimental to water supplies, said T.J. Costello, president of the Manhasset Chamber of Commerce.
The petition is directed to the Great Neck Water Pollution Control District and the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District and after several weeks of circulation has about 80 signatures, Costello said.
Businesses stay away from Plandome Road because of its current water drainage system, especially restaurants, which are heavily reliant on water, said Richard Bentley, president of the Council of Greater Manhasset Civic Associations.
Pumping cesspools often costs about $1,000 per week, and they are expensive to replace, Costello said.
“That’s a lot of money that could collectively go to better uses,” he said.
Great Neck has a sewer system that channels water along Northern Boulevard, Bentley said. Sewers along Plandome Road could connect to that system, he said.
The town needs to draw restaurants to Plandome Road if it is going to be a “destination downtown,” Sue Auriemma, secretary of the civic associations council, said at the council meeting last Wednesday.
Residents have been concerned that a sewer would lead to the construction of apartment buildings because the technology can accommodate taller buildings, Bentley said.
For years, politicians avoided addressing the topic because of that public discontent, Costello said.
Now, people are more aware of the environmental effects of cesspools as nitrates are showing up in Manhasset Bay, he said.
Waste placed directly into the ground eventually travels downward. Nitrates in groundwater is an issue across Long Island, but especially in areas without sewers, said Paul Schrader, superintendent of the Manhasset-Lakeville Water District.
“We only have one well north of Northern Boulevard, and that well is out of service for high nitrates,” Schrader said.
The buildings along Plandome Road are also aging while the costs of pumping waste are going up, Costello said.
The water district would support sewer installation, Schrader said.
“We live above our drinking water, we live above Manhasset Bay. The use of cesspools is an absolutely antiquated technology,” Auriemma said at the civic group’s Wednesday meeting, one place where the petition circulated.
Public opinion is shifting, and this petition is a good way to demonstrate that, especially by gathering signatures of local business owners, Costello said. Plus, a feasibility study may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, an investment that warrants proof that sewers are something people truly want, he said.
“People are realizing, look, it’s going to have to happen,” Costello said. “It seems as though it’s worth investing in now.”