MINEOLA - It's a problem that's been years in the making: officials say more than a dozen homes in Mineola have been encroaching on public land, some by up to 50 feet.

Officials who inspected a plot of land along Bruce Terrace last fall discovered that 13 homes had encroached on public property in an area that's set to become a 20,000-square­-foot water basin. The basin is needed to deal with the area's severe flooding.

Many residents whose properties abut the public plot have erected fences and sheds on the disputed land. Some weren't aware that the land wasn't their own, but others knew what they were in for.

"It wasn't our property, we knew that when we bought the house. But the fence was already there, so they let us keep it," says homeowner John Ryan.

Now, the Village of Mineola is asking residents to give back the land or buy it back for $10 per square foot, which could run some residents up to $18,000. Mineola Mayor Scott Strauss says he feels bad about negotiating the buybacks, but says he can't turn a blind eye to the problem.

Officials say the final phase of construction on the water basin is nearly complete. The $2.4 million project includes wider pumps underneath the street to quickly whisk away water.