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Sep 6, 2019 2:36 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Main Street Reconstruction Project To Start Two Weeks Early Due To Water Authority Delays

Sandpebble's owner, Victor Canseco, showing models of the Suffolk County Water Authority's different water main pipes under Main Street at Thursday's board meeting. ANISAH ABDULLAH
Sep 10, 2019 2:27 PM

UPDATE: Tuesday, 2 p.m.

Compromises were made Monday morning between village, Sandpebble and water authority officials to address the conflicting schedules between two Main Street projects in Westhampton Beach. Executives from the Suffolk County Water Authority, which is replacing its water mains underneath the road, agreed to make its subcontractors work longer hours, but it will not be enough to complete all work by the original deadline of September 30, Mayor Maria Moore said Monday night.

As a result, the Main Street reconstruction project will begin two weeks earlier than scheduled, starting on Monday, September 16. The contractor, Bove Industries, will remove the asphalt and concrete in front of the water authority, whose crew is working from Mill Road heading west to Potunk Lane, to expedite the pipe replacement.

The entire road will be shut down except for the cross street intersections to allow vehicular and pedestrian access to sidewalks and rear parking lots. Ms. Moore said that access points include Sunset Avenue to Moniebogue Lane, Mill Road to Library Avenue, Beach Road to Beach Lane and Potunk Lane. Benches also had to be removed along Main Street to allow installation of the construction fence.

“It was a difficult decision and we know it’s going to be an inconvenience,” Ms. Moore said of removing the benches. “We apologize to the Main Street merchants, but it was necessary to do this.”

On Tuesday morning, an electronic sign set up at the traffic circle in front of Village Hall stated that Main Street would be closed on Monday, but encouraged residents and visitors to still visit the shops. The village distributed fliers to affected merchants and the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce also sent out information.

“We didn’t expect this, and we’re not happy about it, but we don’t want the project to extend over into the summer,” the mayor said. “The feedback we got was that the merchants felt the same way.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

The Suffolk County Water Authority’s work on Main Street in Westhampton Beach to replace aging water main pipes is taking longer than expected, posing a potentially major scheduling problem for the village’s Main Street reconstruction project.

The $11.2 million reconstruction project was planned to start on October 1, immediately after the water authority wrapped up its project on September 30, and run through May 15, just before the summer season kicks off.

But the water authority may now need another two to three weeks to finish the job, according to Paul Kuzman, its director of construction and maintenance.

“With any construction project, sometimes you run into unexpected things, and in this case, I think the big thing for us is we didn’t anticipate having to do the amount of work we have to do to go around some of the existing infrastructure and some of the planned infrastructure,” Mr. Kuzman said on Friday. “So it’s these offsets that we have to do that wasn’t in our original plan.”

The water authority arrived on September 3 to replace underground pipes along Main Street starting near Mill Road to the east and ending at Potunk Lane to the west, about a 2,000-foot stretch of road. Workers are closing one lane at a time, in sections, so that drivers may still pass.

Officials from the water authority told Sandpebble Construction, the project management firm for the reconstruction project, that they could complete about 500 feet per day and finish the project in three weeks.

But Sandpebble’s owner, Victor Canseco, told a room full of people at Thursday’s Village Board meeting that the water authority only completed about 60 to 70 feet in the first two days and 160 feet on the third day of work, leading him to worry that it will not be done in time. That could force the village to either begin the reconstruction project earlier or end later.

“The tough decision is, do you take a little bit of September or do you take a little bit into May or possibly the beginning of June?” Mr. Canseco said. “I don’t know what the answer to that is.”

“Neither,” Mayor Maria Moore responded.

The discussion sparked outrage at the meeting from local business owners who will be affected by the construction on Main Street, especially if it runs into the start of their profitable season next year. Some preferred starting it earlier, an option that could be problematic because the water authority work would still be ongoing.

“I think, as retailers, even restaurateurs and everybody else, knows that we’ve made our money for the summer to a certain extent,” Stephen Mazzella, the owner of Mint, a clothing boutique on Main Street, said at the meeting. “But what’s about to happen in May and June, that unknown could kill a lot of people in this room, whereas knowing right now that you’re about to shut it down September 15, OK.”

Officials from Sandpebble and SCWA had not met between the start of the work and the board meeting to address the delays, and Mr. Canseco said that a meeting was scheduled for Monday, September 9.

Charles McLaughlin, the water authority’s superintendent of distribution who manages all pipeline projects, will meet with Sandpebble and village officials on Monday, Mr. Kuzman said.

At the board meeting, Mr. Canseco laid out a few ways to accelerate the process, some of which would mean changes to the water authority’s plan, if agreed upon. He said that the SCWA could order its hired subcontractors to work longer hours, hire a second crew to work concurrently, or close down both lanes so that Main Street would not have to be repaved every night, which would save hours of work each day.

If none of those are possible, Mr. Canseco said that Bove Industries, the contractor hired to carry out the reconstruction project, would have to adjust its start or end date.

Village officials have made several efforts to prevent delays during their project, including amending a law to penalize utility companies if they do not bury their utility lines within the given time frame — a necessary step in the project — as well as offering up to 10 percent in monetary bonuses if Bove finishes ahead of schedule.

But they have no control over the proceedings of the SCWA, a private company that works on its own terms. The only leverage they had was issuing a road opening permit to allow them to conduct the work.

“We gave them these plans months ago, and they didn’t appreciate what was happening. And so when they showed up, they weren’t expecting the conditions to be what they are, so that’s on them,” Ms. Moore said at the meeting. “And I think that the bosses will recognize that as well.”

Mr. Kuzman said the SCWA realized the significance of the village’s Main Street project and how delays could affect the community.

“We understand that it’s a big project, it’s an important project for the village and we’re definitely sensitive to the timing and how crucial it is to get it done,” he said. “It’s a big disruption to the merchants and the people in Westhampton Beach there and we definitely understand that.”

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Is SCWA doing the project or their contractors? Why not start in both directions and meet together? Put more people on the job?
Doing 500' a day is absurd. They couldn't do that on barren ground. What super gave that estimate? He should be fired...
By knitter (1866), Southampton on Sep 6, 19 2:49 PM
pulling for all the best for the rider, of course
By blueeagle (2), mineola on Sep 9, 19 12:54 PM
Come check out Main St
Come support the businesses , We are going to try to survive this .
We’ve been through a lot over the years, hurricanes, stock market crashes , wild fires , but nothing like this in the 33 years that I’ve been here

I know many people are saying , it’s going to be great when it’s done
Let’s be positive and hope it will
But in the meantime
Move those Big Orange Ugly Porto Potties OFF the Sidewalk
They do not belong ...more
By Shock (46), on Sep 16, 19 9:20 PM
Prediction.....parking meters and towing operators, automobile compounds and penalty charges. Do we really think Whb will be called " Tree town" once Ms.
moore's projects call for their removal? Bye bye benches, hanging plants,
Outdoor music, etc. How many more vacant stores on Main Street must we,
the tax paying residents have to come out of pocket to satisfy these visionaries?
As goes DeBlassio, so it seems, goes Moore. The only vacancy hat would help
This town lies bin town ...more
By PPBubbles (4), Bronx on Sep 19, 19 5:24 PM
San Gennaro Feast of the Hamptons, Hampton Bays, Scottos