The big news at Larchmont’s Village Board meeting on February 22 was the upcoming retirement on April 30 of Fire Chief Richard Heine – whose appointment generated an uproar in the volunteer fire companies three years ago. There were also significant developments in Larchmont’s pursuit of a multi-million dollar flood mitigation grant for Pine Brook along with a new proposal for street trees and an announcement that Flint Park Day Camp will be pared back.
Board Approves Funds for Pine Brook Flood Mitigation Grant Application
Mayor Liz Feld announced that Larchmont is very close to receiving a Westchester County grant for as much as $2.5 million to mitigate perennial flooding along Pine Brook Drive. If they receive this sum from the county, Larchmont would have to raise $1.8 million in matching funds.
But first, the county wants additional information on existing conditions, hydraulics, areas of inundation and effects on residents downstream in the Premium River area. The cost of providing this is $14,000.
Board members approved the expense, reluctantly, given that close to $80,000 has already been spent on recent engineering studies for Pine Brook. (See, for example: Tanks, Pumps & Pipes Suggested for Pine Brook Flooding, 2005, and Pine Brook Flood Fix: Bigger Culvert, Wider Channel, $12M?, 2008)
Trustee Anne McAndrews pointed out, “I’ve been told that this sort of study would have to be done anyway at some point before the project was undertaken.”
The cost of the whole project, which includes replacing crumbling storm water drains with much larger culverts, is $8 to 10 million. “But [the county grant] would be a good start,” said Mayor Feld. “Part of the thinking along the way has been that if we can get some money, it will be easier to get more money,” she concluded.
“I think it’s evident that our job is to put everything in place that would lead to our getting a substantial portion of the money. Then this board or future boards will have to go back to everybody in the community to see whether the bonded indebtedness is something they are willing to support,” observed Trustee Marlene Kolbert.
Ms. Kolbert noted that the project is not simple. It will require tearing up yards and obtaining easements. She feels this means going back to Pine Brook residents and confirming this is something they are willing to live with.
Extra Funds for Chatsworth Water Main
The board also approved a request by Village Treasurer Denis Brucciani for $5000 to cover additional engineering services from Woodard & Currran for subsurface issues that arose during the recently completed rehabilitation of the water main over the Chatsworth Avenue bridge.
Mayor Feld commended the engineers for “doing an excellent job of managing the project and maintaining a working relationship with Metro North, which was not easy.” The total cost of the project was $315,400, with Woodard and Curran’s fees amounting to $83,000.
Let Them Donate Trees
Larchmont residents have been hankering to donate trees and purchase plaques to go with them. And in response to requests, the Parks and Trees Committee is proposing to revive the practice, as long as the plaques focus on the trees, rather than the donors or honorees.
As recommended to the Village Board by Parks and Trees Chair Jan Feinman, the new style plaques would use large letters to identify the Latin and common names of each tree and provide a bit of botanic information. “People walking by will learn a little more about the trees that line our village streets,” she said. “I think of kids walking to Chatsworth School learning the names of all the trees on their way to school.”
Names of donors or honorees will go at the bottom of the plaques in smaller letters. To keep the signs celebratory, she would be urging residents to consider appreciations, births, anniversaries, graduations or other milestone events as occasions for a donation.
To enhance aesthetics and safety, plaques would be placed flush with the ground in front of the tree.
Locations and tree species would be determined by the Parks and Trees Committee along with the Department of Public Works. “We will try to work with the donor to come up with something that will be agreeable to all concerned, but it might not always be possible,” said Ms. Feinman.
Trustee Marlene Kolbert explained her support for the proposal. “There were so many people who said hey, there are people who want to donate and these are difficult economic times wouldn’t it be wonderful to revive this program,” she said. “The feeling was that if we could make the focus educational that would change the feeling of the plaques around town.”
Trustee Ann McAndrews pointed out, “With so many new trees required in the plans for the Palmer Avenue streetscape, this proposal presents a great opportunity for a public, private partnership.”
Further details on pricing, plaque size and style are to be announced at the next board meeting on March 16, when there will be a vote on the proposal.
Flint Park Day Camp To Drop Upper Grades
Because of construction at Hommocks Middle School, Larchmont’s day camp at Flint Park will be restricted to grades 1,2, and 3. For over 20 years, the outdoor camp has used the Hommocks on rainy days, but the school will not be available this summer or next.
“Joyce Callahan, the village recreation director and camp director has spent the last six months trying to find acceptable alternative options and there literally aren’t any,” Mayor Feld said. Fifth graders can apply to the Mamaroneck Town camp. “I’m so sorry to report this sad news,” ended the mayor.
Save the Date: Board Gives OK to Following Events
- A table outside the Golden Shoestring on April 24 from 12-2 as part of Larchmont’s Green Week will include free plants and information on the store and the Furniture Sharehouse.(Also on April 24, there will be a Sustainability Expo at Mamaroneck High School with speakers, workshops, movies, refreshments. Cost: $15.00 for pre-registration; $20.00 on site; $75 for vendors to have a booth. Watch for more details.)
- A hike-a-thon and educational event called Trek for Treatment starting at Constitution Park on May 23 to benefit Kids for World Health.
- A five mile run starting in Flint Park and continuing through the village on July 17 or 18 to benefit Shoes for Africa Foundation.
- The Mamaroneck Schools Foundations’ Fourth Annual Junior Triathalon from Hommocks, through the Manor, and back to Hommocks pool, on September 25.
- The tentative 2010 Village of Larchmont budget will be unveiled on March 16
- Outgoing Fire Chief Rich Heine expects Larchmont’s new fire engine, which has been under development for many years, to be arriving next month. (See: VOL Board Approves New $472K Fire Engine.)