Welcome to Lake McDonald’s.
At a public meeting last Thursday, Wading River Civic Association President Sid Bail said he had received an email from someone asking to go fishing at the flooded parking lot that has become a consistent nuisance for Wading River residents.
Now, Riverhead Town has issued a notice of violation to two businesses because of it, according to Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith.
Specifically, they are talking about the portion of the parking lot between McDonald’s and Walgreens in Wading River, which frequently floods and often requires one of the entrance roads leading from the parking lot to Wading River-Manorville Road to be closed to traffic.
Riverhead’s Chief Building Inspector Brad Hammond said in an interview that the flooding often extends into the public roads on Route 25A and Wading River-Manorville Road.
“I’m very familiar with it,” Ms. Jens-Smith told the Wading River Civic Association last Thursday, after Mr. Bail brought up the subject.
“I know it got very bad toward the end of December also,” she said. “We have issued McDonald’s and Walgreens a notice of violation. They need to de-silt their drains.”
Ms. Jens-Smith said that town Highway Superintendent George Woodson is aware of the problem, and that the town has been in contact with the state as well.
The notice of violation requires the property owners to fix the drainage problem, she said.
Both the McDonald’s and the Walgreens properties are owned by the same company, First Development Corporation of Islandia.
“We would like to contribute to a solution,” said Robert Steinberg, a partner in First Development, in a phone interview Tuesday.
But he said that even when the McDonald’s was being built in 2001, the catch basins on state-owned Route 25A were filled.
“We are the lowest spot,” he said. “There’s just so much water moving through that intersection. We just can’t contain it all.”
Mr. Steinberg said that when the Walgreens was being built in 2007, they were asked by the town to install additional catch basins. They installed 18 of them, but still couldn’t contain all the water.
“They were overwhelmed as well,” he said.
Mr. Hammond said the notices of violation were issued Jan. 3, and technically the property owner has 30 days to fix the problem. But he said the owner has been cooperative.
“I had a good dialogue with the owner,” Mr. Hammond said. “It’s been an ongoing problem. We know all of the water is not coming from their property per se, but we want to make sure they are doing their part.”
Mr. Steinberg said he suggested taking an undeveloped portion of his company’s land between Walgreens and May’s Farm and giving the town an easement over it so it could create a water retention pond there.
During last Thursday’s heavy rain, a section of the parking looked like a lake, but by Tuesday morning, the water was gone.
“The first phase is to clean up all their drains,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “If they need to put a few more drains in, we will work with them, if that is the case.”
Photo caption: The oft-flooded Wading River lot off Route 25A has been dubbed ‘Lake McDonald’s’ by residents. (Jennifer Rocca courtesy photo)