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.5M for Water Projects, .1M for Duck Pond">8 comments - (Comments closed)

Mamaroneck Town OKs $1.5M for Water Projects, $1.1M for Duck Pond

At a relatively brief meeting on  June 2, the Mamaroneck Town Board approved a $1.5 million bond resolution for improvements to its water transmission systems and accepted the low bid for restoration of Gardens Lake, aka the Duck Pond. The latest iteration of revised rules on residential parking was sent to the Planning Board for review and the annual storm water report won approval.

Last month the board rejected all bids for the Gardens Lake restoration when all of the proposals were over budget for the project that will dredge and expand the pond and add valves that will allow water levels to be lowered in anticipation of a major storm.

Since then, the Town received nine new bids – ranging from $1.9 million to $1,072,486. The  board accepted the low bid, which came from Galvin Brothers Construction of Great Neck, NY and is considerably below the $1,552,725 estimated budget.

Because of the savings, the Town will look into dredging more material than originally planned. Westchester County will pay 50% of the final cost of the project, but  no more than $1 million.

Mamaroneck Town Administrator Steve Altieri said Galvin Brothers had successfully completed 20 similar projects. Around 60% of the contractor’s business is in wetland restorations.

There will be pre-construction meetings next week and work should start around two weeks later. .

“Obviously, this will be noisy,” warned Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe. Large trucks will be coming in and out of the area. There will be street closings and detours.

Residents within 500 feet of the project will get notice prior to the start of construction

People should understand that this is a very big project that we’ve been waiting for a very long time,” said Councilwoman Phyllis Wittner. “People will be inconvenienced – sorry – but that’s the way it is.”

The contractor will bring in a firm that will attempt to capture and save turtles, frogs, fish and other aquatic life before the pond is drained.

A restoration of Gardens Lake has been under consideration for years, initially as a simple dredging job to remove silt that periodically builds up at the man-made pond, created decades ago by the WPA and last dredged in 1987. In 2003, Mamaroneck and Westchester County began discussing a collaboration, focused on capturing silt and improving water quality, but last year the project was expanded to enhance the pond’s ability to contain storm water and keep it from flooding low-lying neighborhoods downstream.

Championed by Westchester County Legislator Judy Myers, a former member of the Mamaroneck Town Board and a current member of the Westchester County Flood Action Task Force, the project was awarded $1 million from a fund dedicated to flood prevention.

Although all board members voted for the project, they have  raised questions about the wisdom of spending increasingly large sums to keep the pond from reverting to what “it wants to be” – a swamp.

Water Infrastructure Bond

The board unanimously, if reluctantly, approved a bond resolution that would allow borrowing a maximum of $1.5 million for three water infrastructure projects: $900,000 for design and engineering studies of a water filtration system for the Westchester Joint Water Works that is mandated by the New York State Health Department; $330,000 for replacement of the water main on Lundy Lane; and $320,000 for design work on an ultraviolet filtration project that would be less costly to maintain than the mandated version.

Councilwoman Wittner vented, briefly, over the futility of paying for the filtration design, (which the board has long opposed and would not be built if the alternative is approved). Supervisor O’Keeffe cut short the conversation, agreeing that “it’s very frustrating” but noting that the municipality is under a court order to pay, and “it’s already water under the bridge.”

Last month, the board adopted an 18% increase in the water rate, which is sufficient to cover debt payments from the new borrowing. In this way, costs of the projects are borne by usage fees rather than the property tax.

Zoning Change to Revamp Residential Parking

A new law – still in proposal form – would set some limits but repeal the old rules that prohibit  overnight residential parking that is less than 25 feet from the municipal right of way. The board referred the proposal to the Planning Board for review and set a public hearing for its July 11 meeting.

The intention of the old rule was to require homeowners to park cars out of sight, preferably in garages.  Given the mismatch between today’s vehicles and the antique garages found on most properties, almost all homeowners are now in violation of the law.

The board has struggled for over a year to come up with rules that make sense and strike a balance between allowing people to park their vehicles and yet prohibit them from “parking five cars across their front yards,” explained Mamaroneck Town Clerk Christine Battalia following the meeting.

The new rules envision a “box” directly in front of the house. Vehicles could not be parked within the box except in a driveway leading to a garage.  Parking also would be permitted in a driveway outside the box as long as it is on only one side of the house and is at least five feet away from the side and back property line.

A vehicle could also be parked right in front of the garage door or in a driveway shared with a neighbor, even if it is within the five–foot setback.

As with all zoning changes, the new rules would apply only to future construction or renovations. Configurations of current driveways and garages would be “grandfathered in.”

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8 comments to Mamaroneck Town OKs $1.5M for Water Projects, $1.1M for Duck Pond

  • $1.1 million for a duck pond while Mamaroneck school system is laying off so may people. Guess those ducks have a higher priority then so many workers at Mamaroneck High School that did their job, but just couldn’t get enough support like the ducks. Great politics.

    • Sushi Says

      You clearly don’t understand two very important points here:

      1. This project is nearly 30 years in the waiting and long overdue.

      2. The funds to pay for this come from a totally different ‘bucket’ than those for education.

      For example, Economic stimulus money is allocated into different categories and as you suggest “robbing Peter to pay for ” (Paul’s education in this scenario) is not the way budgets are done on the county/state/federal levels. Why should one area suffer because another account is overdrawn on funds? If Educational funds were better managed during the good years, then there would not be a need to try to dip into funds allocated for other uses.

      This is just plain old common sense….

  • JKS

    I agree that spending this amount on the duck pond when our taxes are too high and our school budgets are stretched seems like poor prioritization.I realize half the money will come from the county, but ultimately, it’s still all our tax money. I have only lived here since 1998 and I think some sort of dredging has already been done on the lake twice. Since it borders so directly on I-95, I really don’t see many people making use of the duck pond other than to walk or drive by it. I live in this neighborhood and I still don’t think it is justified.

  • OhComeOn

    While I am skeptical the dredging will work, it’s one of those items that affect all of us, whether you live near the pond or not. It represents a major “dumping” area for excess rain water when the flooding hits. Let’s not forget March and April of this year. If the pond was functioning the way it should have been, we’d have had “less” flooding.

    I also doubt any of us would want to become known as the town with an ignored swamp!

  • I usually like Sushi when I go out for dinner, but this time the issue is quite clear. The government is spending over one million dollars on a duck pond while so many workers affiliated with education that have families in need are hurting. I guess you can go and feel for those ducks and waste money. My logic is use the duck funds for the real world. If it waited for thirty years, it can wait another thirty . Then again we can always catch the ducks and learn how to make Peking Duck.

    • Sushi Says

      PRECISELY why we need to “Save the Ducks” from perpetrators who think that they are edible delicacies.

      Quite seriously, the Duck Pond is the local yokel term for the Larchmont Gardens Lake. And it’s not about the ducks – it’s about maintaining a major location for drainage of the Sheldrake River including the only real sanctuary type environment in the entire Larch/Mam’k area. The ducks that reside there usually fly South for the winter mos and there are more carp fish in the “Duck Pond” than actual ducks – truth be told.

      Again – robbing Peter to pay for Paul’s historically poor budgeting is absolutely unjust and violates Peter’s rights to allocate “his” portion of funding the way “he” chooses to do so. And in this case, Peter has waited for 30+ years to beautify his beloved Duck Pond. Regardless if there are ducks, pigeons or flying fish taking habitat in the lovely Larchmont Gardens lake.

      As for the poor “workers (and their families) affiliated with education” WHO can you possibly be kidding?? Workers in Education sector were the second biggest recipients of the Obama Economic Stimulus plan. If it’s anyone you want me to feel sorry for it’s the small business owner – not workers in the Education field. They benefited far more than many others who are truly hurting.

      But the ducks……let’s leave them out of this. They waited 30 years for their “economic stimulus” quacks ;-)

  • Anon E Mous

    So both the MTA and the Duck people are taken care of, while the pockets of the people are emptied; some to one, some to others, assuming a dollar still is 100 cents :-)

    Some day we’ll need to confront reality. Some day soon.

    ‘The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion.’ – Lewis Mumford