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.”