A Regular Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, NY was held on Monday, February 6, 2006 at the Municipal Building, Van Wyck Street, Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520.
The following officials were present:
1. CALL TO ORDER:
Mayor Schmidt called the meeting to order at 8:10 p.m.
2. APPROVAL OF VOUCHERS:
Trustee Kane made a motion to approve the vouchers as follows, subject to review by the Audit Committee. The motion was seconded by Trustee Brennan and approved unanimously.
Mayor Schmidt honored Bill Vlad upon his retirement as chief of the Croton on Hudson Fire Dept., thanking him for his dedication and for the hours he has put in. Mayor Schmidt read an official proclamation naming February 6, 2006 as Bill Vlad day in the Village.
3. PUBLIC HEARING:
Village Manager Herbek opened the Public Hearing being held to determine the Village’s need for the property owned by Greentree Realty, 1A Croton Point Ave., Section 78.l16, Block 2, Lots 1 and 2, as the first step in the process of acquiring the property by eminent domain. He added that legal notice of this public hearing has been published in the official Village newspapers.
Maryanne Stecich, Croton Village Attorney, stated that this hearing is the first step; proper notices have been published and served; the Board is going to begin the SEQRA process by determining they are to be Lead Agency; an appraiser has been retained to put a dollar value on the property; within 90 days after public hearing is closed, the Board of Trustees will prepare a determination and publish its findings; within 30 days of the publishing of the findings, the property owner may commence action in the Appellate Division; the proceeding must be heard as expeditiously as possible; the Village must offer, in writing, just compensation for property then four things can happen-the property owner can accept or reject the offer, the property owner can do nothing and in 90 days the offer is deemed rejected, or the property owner can accept the offer as advance payment; the next step is for the Village to commence a proceeding in the court to acquire the property; an order of the Supreme Court will give a time limit to the property to start an action for damages if the offer was rejected. Attorney Stecich stated that this proposed acquisition is a classic example of why municipalities have the power to condemn property when it is needed for a public use. Attorney Stecich quoted from a US Supreme Court case that describes a municipality’s eminent domain power.
Village Manager Herbek explained the Village’s need for a new Public Works facility. (full text of his presentation attached).
Ken Kraft, Superintendent of Public Works, spoke on behalf of the need for a new facility. (full text of his presentation attached).
Dan O’Connor, Village Engineer, stated that he took into account the 2004 Needs Assessment prepared by the DPW plus additional items and the Needs Assessment for the Parks and Recreation Dept. for his conceptual plan. He explained the proposal using a diagram posted on the bulletin board. Mr. O’Connor stated that he also took into consideration the zoning of the area; additional analysis will be done as needed.
Mayor Schmidt opened the floor for public comments:
a. Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand St., thanked the staff for their presentations this evening. She added that in her opinion, the Village has a crying need for this space; the site is the right size and is truly serving a public need; also she agrees that additional parking spaces are needed;
b. Richard Pellicci, 65 Radnor Ave., stated that he is organizing a group of residents for a number of projects around the Village and is thrilled on this plan to move the DPW to this site.
c. Bruce Kauderer, 6 Georgia Lane, stated that he has been a resident over 30 years and is a real estate attorney; he said that this is the wrong tactic and wrong procedure to go forward with at this time, at least not on this site; eminent domain proceedings are about the same throughout the country; the municipality must pay full market value of the site; if a waste transfer station can be put on this site, then you are talking about an established business with a high value and an operation that cannot simply relocate down the street which means the Village would have to pay the entire value of this business- perhaps up to 50 million dollars. He added that Croton will have to take title to the property before knowing what the value is and this process may take several years. He stated that he feels the Village cannot afford to take this property now and asked why not take the Georgia-Pacific/Finklestein property; he urged the Board to form an advisory committee and believes they have gotten some very bad advice on doing this now; get experts within the Village working on this.
d. David Steinmetz, Zarin & Steinmetz, Attorneys at Law, stated that he is representing Greentree Property LLC, owners of this property; they are opposed to the proposed condemnation of this property and he has been joined by Thatcher Profitt & Wood as co-counsel. Mr. Steinmetz presented a letter and legal arguments-copies were given to each member of the Board. He stated that government must establish a purpose and need and then invoke the power of eminent domain; they believe the record in this procedure shows it is backwards. He added that this piece of property has been controversial for several years in this Village. He asked if there has been any recent empirical analysis of any properties in the Village. Mr. Steinmetz stated that he had represented the owners of the Georgia Pacific property and knows that this property was burdened and depressed and doesn’t believe the Village was actively pursuing purchase of this property. He noted that a municipality cannot condemn land in excess of a stated need and there is no articulated need for 10 acres; a condemnation cannot be conducted in bad faith and there are pending matters before the Village’s Board of Appeals regarding this property. He added that there needs to be a comprehensive environmental review; he is under a disadvantage having not seen the environmental assessment form as he can not get it until tomorrow; he asked that under fairness, keep the public hearing open until they can review the EAF; they need to study the environmental impacts of terminating the non-conforming use rights on this property- taking away the only piece of property in Westchester County that is zoned light industrial, on a rail spur, between a rail line and a state highway and is an ideal location for a transfer station; he urged a study of the implications to the entire Westchester County who have made use of this property as a transfer station. He suggested that the eminent domain proceeding be abandoned at this time and revisit the public purpose doctrine; there is no valid purpose to condemn this property at this time and urged the Board to keep the Public Hearing open.
e. John McManus, 90 State Street, Albany, NY, on behalf of Crane, Parente, Cherubin & Murray, Attorneys at Law, representing Regus Industries, Suburban Carting Corp., and NIR who are lessees of the property of subject and operator of the facility and who formally oppose the Village’s proposed condemnation of the property located at 1A Croton Point Ave.. He provided the Board with a copy of his letter stating that the Village cannot act in bad faith or so arbitrarily as to be unreasonable; the facts clearly state that the Village is acting arbitrarily and in bad faith. He cited legal battles between the Village and MetroEnviro stating that an injunction is in effect under which the Village is “enjoined from prohibiting or interfering with Greentree’s ability to lease and or operate it’s property for purposes of solid waste management”; the proposed condemnation is in violation of this injunction. Mr. McManus stated that NIR is now prepared to operate the facility; MetroEnviro is no longer the operator the facility; the presence of 1600 feet of track used to provide rail transfer service for the transloading of materials may hold that the Village’s use of the EDPL, as applied to the Property and the track is without effect as this action and is preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act of 1995. He added that the amount of property is in excess of the alleged need; 4 to 7 acres are needed, not 10 acres; the proposed condemnation could cost the Village millions of dollars; the Environmental Review of this action is incomplete; he has not been provided with a copy of the EAF. He suggested that the Public Hearing should be left open until the EAF is available for review and comment.
Village Attorney Stecich stated that the EAF became available today as required; there will be plenty of opportunity to express comments and there is no reason to keep the Public Hearing open. Attorney Stecich asked Ken Kraft or Dan O’Connor to address the need for 4 to 6 acres. Mr. O’Connor stated that a section of the site is unusable land–slightly over an acre; a right of way is needed just to get to this site; 4 to 6 acres addresses just the site proper, not the access roads nor scale house nor the landscape berm; there also is a need for additional parking for the train station.
f. Laura Seitz, 2 Brook Trail, said that if Mr. Kauderer’s figures are correct, this could bankrupt the Village; the costs should be part of the information available for residents to form their opinion.
g. Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radner Ave., stated that he asked Mr. Steinmetz years ago how much it might take to purchase this property -10 million dollars? - and his comment was met with laughter. He added that he attended the work session several weeks ago when eminent domain came up and the fire department training facility also came up as a use; meetings are held all over because there is no physical place to address some of the problems; he prefers to see a final solution to this and has no problem with eminent domain; however, they must take a look at estimated cost; he does not expect it would bankrupt the Village.
h. Michael Goetz, 13 Irving Ave., questioned how the Village goes about borrowing money for something like this? The Board had no answer at this time. Mr. Goetz asked if once the procedure is begun, can it be stopped if the dollar figures change. Village Attorney Stecich replied that it depends on what point they are at; if the property has been acquired, it would be more difficult.
Trustee Brennan made a motion to close the Public Hearing, seconded by Trustee Steinberg; approved unanimously.
Village Manager Herbek read the following correspondence (full text available at the Village Office):
a. A letter from Anthony Amato, Green Power Partnership Account Manager, stating that Croton on Hudson has been awarded membership to the 2005 Green Power Leadership Club for demonstrating exemplary environmental leadership; a leadership plaque from them has been hung in the Village Office.
b. A letter from Craig S. Kominoski, NYS Office of Real Property Services with the Revised Residential Assessment Ratio which has been corrected to 2.93.
c. A notice from Donald C. DeWitt, NYS board of Real Property Services, with the Certificate of Final Railroad Ceiling Assessment.
d. A letter signed by members of the Croton Senior Citizens Club stating that they are in agreement with the idea of closing the Skate Park and selling its components to the Town of Cortlandt; the letter was signed by 77 individuals.
e. A letter from Thomas Belfior, Westchester Sheriff/Commissioner of Public Safety regarding recently enacted legislation requiring that anyone owning a dangerous dog notify the village clerk and a report be filed; the county would like to partner with the village to crate a countywide dangerous dog registry. Village Manager Herbek stated that he will send a copy of this to the Police department.
f. A letter from Joseph Ferone, Attorney, regarding property owned by Donald Campbell, 21 Cook Lane, which is a vacant lot; Mr. Campbell has attempted to sell the property but the title company could not issue a marketable title because of the property’s designation as parkland. Village Manager Herbek asked to put this on a future work session along with additional forthcoming documentation.
g. A memo from Ann Gallelli, Planning Board, regarding the relatively new concept of Twindominiums and recommending the Board take action to revise the Zoning Code to address this as soon as possible. Village Manager Herbek will put this on a work session agenda for consultation with the Planning Board.
h. A letter from Westchester County Executive, Andrew Spano, about pending legislation before the Westchester County Board of Legislators regarding eminent domain, a proposed local law is provided and they are requesting comments be sent to Planning Commissioner Jerry Mulligan by e-mail to JEM1@westchestergov.com or to his attention at 148 Martin Ave., Rm. 432, White Plains, NY 10601.
i. A letter from Andrew Spano regarding funding that has been approved to stabilize the wine cellars located at Croton Point Park from further deterioration. Mayor Schmidt stated that the tours have been discontinued at present because of unsafe conditions.
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION-Agenda Items
Dan Daubney, 45 Bungalow Road, asked if the piece of property referred to has a connection to the municipal sewer. Village Manager Herbek replied that it does not at this time but a sewer can be constructed and installed to service that location. Mr. Daubney asked if that would enable neighboring areas not connected to hook into it, such as Croton Point Ave. Mr. Herbek replied that there is a county force main that runs along Croton Point Ave.
a) On motion of Trustee Brennan, seconded by Trustee Kane, the following resolution was adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
RESOLVED: that pursuant to Article 15, Section 116 of the Election Law,
the following persons are hereby appointed inspectors of
election to preside at the Village Election of March 21, 2006:
DEMOCRATIC: Cornelia Cotton
REPUBLICAN: Audrey Gabrielsen
and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED: that the compensation for each inspector of election
shall be fixed at $200.00 per day, and $225.00 for each chairperson.
b) On motion of Trustee Steinberg, seconded by Trustee Brennan, the following resolution was
adopted unanimously by the Board of Trustees of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York:
WHEREAS, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson has a need for a large parcel of property on which to locate a new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility to replace the existing Municipal Garage and locate the salt shed, new materials storage, excavated material storage, composting and leaf storage, and other DPW and public uses; and
WHEREAS, the Village has been looking for many years for an available parcel in the Village to accommodate those uses; and
WHEREAS, the Village has identified the 9.7+ acre parcel of property at 1A Croton Point Avenue as the appropriate size and location to meet the Village’s need for a new DPW facility; and
WHEREAS, the Village is considering whether to acquire the property by eminent domain; and
WHEREAS, the Village Board of Trustees must consider the environmental impacts of acquiring the property by eminent domain and constructing a new facility for DPW and other Village uses; and,
WHEREAS, a full Environmental Assessment Form and Coastal Assessment Form have been drafted,
NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: that the Village Board of Trustees declares its intent to serve as lead agency for the purpose of conducting a coordinated review,
AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: that the Village Board authorizes the circulation of the Environmental Assessment Form to the Village of Croton on Hudson Planning Board, the Village of Croton on Hudson Waterfront Advisory Committee, the Village of Croton on Hudson Water Control Commission, the Westchester County Department of Planning, the Westchester County Department of Transportation, the Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation, the Westchester County Solid Waste Commission, the Westchester County Department of Health, the NYS Department of Transportation, the New York State Department of State, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Metro North Railroad.
Discussion: Trustee Wiegman asked how quickly will the boards be asked to respond. Village Manager Herbek replied that they will have 30 days.
7. CITIZEN PARTICIPATION – NON-AGENDA ITEMS:
a) Maria Cudequest, 84 Grand St., stated that she read an article from an Ohio newspaper regarding Sunny Farms landfill and she provided a copy to the Board. Village Attorney Stecich stated that she also read that article and is forwarding it to the Westchester County Solid Waste Commission. Maria Cudequest added that she has sent it to the Solid Waste Commission, the members of the commission and some legislators who have expressed an interest.
b) Bob Wintermeier, 43 Radner Ave., regarding flooding in the parking lot, stated that this problem has been with the Village through several administrations; he has heard that money was allocated to fix the problems but it was for everything west of the main thoroughfare which did not pertain to the flood area. Mr. Wintermeier was referred to the Buckhurst study and page 15 has an extensive proposition to build a parking garage for $4 million; his concern is that this is an expense which would require raising parking fees by 5% to cover the loss of spaces, and has no fiscal benefit to the Village. Trustee Wiegman replied that there was an amount in the budget to improve the parking lot this year to improve the traffic flow which was step 1; step 2 is what is referred to in the study; any further work beyond unsnarling the traffic will require raising the grade and moving the cars off the 2 ½ acres. Mayor Schmidt added that the Transit Oriented study was just a study to look at the possibilities of what else could be done; it came back with three significant options, none of which the Board at the time felt met the needs. Trustee Steinberg replied the most recent work session was the first time this was discussed by the Board this year and the proposal was not going to address the flooding as it occurred this past winter. Mr. Wintermeier stated that he looks forward to hearing more about this. Trustee Brennan replied that there has been misconception about the money taken out of the budget for upgrades of the train station this year; those funds would not have done anything to remedy the flooding problem. Trustee Wiegman added that money for the parking lot was cut out of the budget at the last hour which sent a message to commuters that fees were being raised, but the flooding would not be corrected. Trustee Brennan stated that the money is still available when a workable plan comes up.
Richard Pellicci at 65 Radnor Ave. stated that he was told about the flooding at the station when he was bidding on his house 13 years ago.
8. APPROVAL OF MINUTES:
Trustee Brennan made a motion to approve the minutes of the Regular Board Meeting held on January 17, 2006 as corrected. Trustee Steinberg seconded the motion. The Board voted approval with Trustee Wiegman abstaining.
Village Manager Herbek reported that last Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the staff received training on performance management through International City Management Center for Performance Measurement along with several other municipalities; a consortium has been started with 8 municipalities. He read the goals and objectives for 15 service areas, adding that consortiums are being developed throughout the country; Westchester County is interested in more information; his hope is that this process will help staff to become more efficient. Mr. Herbek informed the Board of the dates set for work sessions; the Public Hearing on the budget is scheduled for April 10th. Village Manager Herbek stated that they have postponed the work session for next Monday.
Treasurer Zambrano reported that he also attended this training last week and feels it will be beneficial to both staff and taxpayers. He reported that they are in the process of having RPS software installed with will be used as an assessment tool; MUNIS system requires using this software. Treasurer Zambrano stated that the Tentative Assessment Roll was filed on February 1st; Grievance day will be held on February 21st, from 4 to 8 pm. He added that they are working on the budgets; department heads have turned in their budgets and discussions will be held over the next few weeks.
Trustee Wiegman reported that the parking lot flooding issue has been raised; the Village has a lot of information at its disposal and this needs to be moved forward on. Trustee Wiegman added that a local expert, Mark Holzer, may be available to consult on performance management. Village Manager Herbek replied that Mr. Holzer is aware of what they are doing and has offered to help but on a slightly different route.
Trustee Kane reported that Sunday, from 9 am to 3 pm, the Hudson River Eagle Fest at Teatown Reservation is scheduled; there will be different events along the Hudson River; the boat ramp will have a warming tent with a guide available.
Trustee Steinberg congratulated Boy Scout Troop 28 on its 50th anniversary. He added that the Croton Harmon school district has established a hall for distinguished alumni and nomination forms are available on line.
Trustee Brennan thanked the staff members for their presentations tonight. He stated that the Croton Harmon school sports seasons are coming to an end; please support the local schools. He added that they are coming into election season but nothing should be political; all should pull together as a board to get the parking lot flooding problem fixed;
Mayor Schmidt reported that prior to the Jan. 31st flooding, there was advance warning of possible high tide was coming in and the parking lot was closed down; this solution worked well; the public knows it caused a lot of confusion and the Board must work through the steps to solve this problem.
Trustee Brennan made a motion to adjourn. Trustee Steinberg seconded the motion; approved unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 p.m.
Phyllis A. Bradbury
Phyllis A. Bradbury, Secretary
Eminent Domain Hearing – February 6, 2006
Good evening, my name is Richard F. Herbek and I am the Village Manager of Croton-on-Hudson. I was appointed Village Manager in December of 1980 and officially took office on January 15, 1981.
History of discussions with the Board of Trustees and the Croton community regarding the need for a new DPW facility.
The Village’s Department of Public Work’s Facility located at the Croton Harmon Railroad Station Parking Lot dates back to the late 1960’s. The facility was completed in 1970 and the Public Work’s personnel moved into the facility in the fall of 1970.
By 1977 the minutes of Village Board meetings reveal that the size of the facility was already an issue and a problem. The area allocated for the Public Work’s Department was extremely limited in terms of area and space needs and the ability to house public works vehicles, equipment and machinery. In fact many vehicles, equipment and machinery had to be stored in outside areas at the facility which has shortened the life of the vehicles, equipment and machinery.
In 1978 the personnel in the Public Work’s Department reported to the Board of Trustees that space was continuing to be a problem. The Village at that time wanted to establish a recycling center for Village residents. The DPW warned the Board that there was no room for such an operation on the DPW site, as they were short of space and could not locate more recycling bins at the facility. A storage area was temporarily established in the rear area of the DPW which is now being used as part of the Croton Harmon parking area.
Space continued to be a problem at the DPW site. In 1986 a section of the chain link fence surrounding the DPW was moved to add more parking spaces at the parking lot which further decreased the size of the DPW area. The Village’s sand and salt piles also were moved further to the rear of the commuter parking lot which meant that the Village’s front end loader needed to be driven to the salt and sand piles every time loading operations were required. The demands of increasing the number of commuter parking spaces always conflicted with the needs of the DPW. As Village Manager I pointed out at a Village Board meeting twenty years ago that not having a consolidated facility where all operations could be carried out in one location made for a much less efficient operation. In effect, the loading of sand and salt trucks and the storage of materials at such a distant location from the DPW Central Garage building was problematic. Also, I noted that this distant offsite location was becoming a dumping area for contractors and others who took advantage of this offsite, unmanned DPW storage area. Consequently the Village spent thousands of dollars over the years cleaning up the materials that were illegally dumped in this location.
At a Village Board Meeting on December 15, 1986 Village residents vociferously complained about the storage of debris behind the Municipal Garage. The offsite area which the DPW was using became an eyesore and an aesthetic concern. At the meeting I explained that this was our public works yard. I went on to explain that the Village needed to store a quantity of debris in the yard until we had a substantial enough load to take to the Charles Point Resource Recovery Facility and other disposal sites. I also said that we recognized the problem of the illegal dumping in that area and that the Village needed a larger public works facility. I stated emphatically that the public works facility should not be in that location.
To help alleviate some of the storage needs for the Municipal Garage I proposed the construction of a storage shed in the 1987-88 Village Budget. Again space limitations prevented us from constructing such a storage shed.
At the June 20, 1988 Village Board Meeting I reported to the Board and the public that the Public Work’s site was continuing to be used as a dumping ground and that the long term plan was to relocate the Municipal Garage operation, including the Public Works yard, and clean up the whole area.
On August 29, 1988 I reported to the Board of Trustees about the relocation of the Municipal Garage. This included a discussion that the Village had been exploring the possibility of relocating the municipal garage to the area southwest of the Croton Point Avenue bridge, owned by Westchester County, and discussions that I had with the staff of Westchester County. This was eventually ruled out as a site because of concerns about the proximity of the Croton Point landfill, wetland areas, soil conditions, groundwater levels, the lack of sanitary sewers and site drainage.
On October 17, 1988 the Board of Trustees established a committee to among other things evaluate the needs and possible relocation of the Municipal Garage. Although the need for a relocated facility was stressed by the then Village Administration, the committee did not complete the review and instead focused on other public works issues.
In June of 1989 the Village was notified by the MTA about the availability of the former Georgia Pacific Building located on Half Moon Bay Drive. This was actively evaluated and pursued as a DPW site but before the Village could act it was sold for use as a Goodyear Tire Storage Facility.
In October of 1989 the complaints about the conditions of the areas used by DPW continued. One resident commented that “there’s a new dump in Croton which is developing behind the Municipal Garage. The resident pointed out at the Board meeting that the white goods, (refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, etc.), asphalt, tree stumps etc., in that area are disgracing the beauty of the main entrance way into the Village.
From 1989 until 1997 many discussions took place at work sessions and with the staff concerning space problems at the facility and the needs of the DPW which were increasing with the continuing growth and development throughout the Village.
At the Village Board meeting of October 6, 1997 I reported that the Village should not give up the search for a new location for the DPW.
In 1999, we proposed a Butler type building at the DPW to temporarily house the displaced fire apparatus during the construction of the new Harmon firehouse. The intent was to ultimately add some internal storage for DPW trucks and equipment after the fire apparatus was relocated back to the new Harmon Firehouse. Unfortunately this was not funded.
In May, 2000 we proposed the construction of a building at the wellfields to house water meters, valves and other equipment needed by the Water Department to replace space lost when the wellfields were automated and also to consolidate supplies and equipment that needed to be moved out of the DPW garage. The plan to build an addition to Wellhouse # 3 was approved by the Board but we recognized at the time that this would house only limited amounts of meters, valves and equipment and that this location was in a flood zone and therefore was not constructed.
In 2000 the Village utilized space at the Municipal Place site for an in-vessel composting area for the Village’s leaves. Although this operation was successful and the Village received a “Pride in Public Works” award from the New York State Conference of Mayors, the operation needed to be discontinued at this location due to the construction of the skateboard facility.
Due to the construction of the small boat launch area in 2000 at the existing DPW storage area behind the Municipal Garage more space needed to be allocated behind the skateboard park at Municipal Place for the storage of excavated materials and roadside debris. This area was even further away from the Municipal Garage and made coordinating and bringing equipment to the site even more time consuming and less efficient. Also, complaints arose that this area was also a Village Gateway and having a storage yard at this location was unsightly and should not be there. Since no other space was available the Village erected a stockade fence to screen the view as best as possible.
In fact, at that time, Trustee Deborah McCarthy stated that the locating of the skateboard facility at the Municipal Place site brought forward the issue of the proper location for the DPW. She said “they have outgrown their current site which could also be income producing through additional parking spots. We need to address this issue.” She called for a committee to be established to find a new site for the DPW.
At the Board meeting of May 27, 2003 a resident stated that the lot next to the skateboard park is near a Gateway entrance to the Village and is very trashy-looking. Mayor Elliott replied that the Village is continuing to try to find a location for a DPW staging area which is needed for the storage of concrete and other materials. Other complaints were about contractor cones and pallets in the same location. At the same meeting Trustee Georgianna Grant added that the Croton Landing Property is also a mess noting that there is a huge mountain of unprocessed leaves with paper bags and torn plastic bags.
In 2004, the Village made the decision to store broken sections of concrete along with some limited amounts of asphalt at the wellfield location which is 2 and ½ miles from the DPW Garage and right on the Croton River. A number of residents were upset with this decision and raised questions about the environmental impacts on the Croton River. Due to public concerns regarding environmental issues the use of this site was discontinued.
The question about the storage of road materials, concrete and other supplies needed for the Harmon water improvement project came up in 2004 and 2005. The Village worked with Historic Hudson Valley to utilize some of their land at the end of Hastings Avenue for the storage of water main and certain other supplies. This was for a temporary two year agreement which ends in July, 2006.
In 2004 the staff actively evaluated the use of property along Route 129 outside of the Village but eliminated consideration of this site because it was too close to the Croton River basin upstream from the Village’s water shed area and the site itself had numerous environmental constraints. We also recognized that the siting of such a facility would involve land use decisions by the Town of Cortlandt and there was no assurance that approvals for a DPW facility could be obtained.
In 2005 the Village was able to utilize Metro North’s east yard for the storage of broken sections of concrete for the sidewalk improvement program. Although we had fewer complaints compared to the Municipal Place location and the wellfields location we have been told by Metro North that this area will be unavailable in 2006 and that we should find another location. Another storage area has not yet been identified.
The need for an updated and larger DPW facility goes back almost 30 years. It has been one of the most pressing needs of the Village during the time that I have been Village Manager, which now spans 26 years. There is no question in my mind that an improved, larger, more efficient facility is in the Village’s long term best interest. We have heard the complaints from residents about the use of Village parks, wellfield property, gateway areas and other open space for DPW use for a very long time.
We recognize the need for a site that can accommodate:
· Leaf storage and possible composting
· Salt storage
· Contractors staging area
· Storage of excavated and waste materials from DPW operations
· Storage of trap rock, item 4, clay etc.
· Tree limbs and stumps storage area
· Concrete storage and crushing
· Central Garage for maintenance and repair of vehicles and equipment
· Indoor heated storage for vehicles and equipment using hydraulics and diesel fuel
· Larger office space, locker rooms and training room
· Vehicle washing facility (requires a municipal sewer connection which we do not have at the current site.)
· Storage for the Recreation and Parks Department such as sand, clay for ballfields and other recreational storage needs (much of the Recreation and Parks storage is now taking place at Blackrock Park in a flood zone area.)
We have attempted to locate a site for many, many years. We have looked at:
· Croton Point Avenue site owned by Westchester County
· Municipal Place site
· Georgia Pacific site
· Site owned by WD contractors in Town of Cortlandt out on Route 129
· East yard
· Wellfield area
· Site at 1A Croton Point Avenue
All of these sites with the exception of the site at 1A Croton Point Avenue have been eliminated from consideration for one reason or another.
In 1997-1998 I proposed the allocation of $1,500,000 in the capital budget for a new DPW facility. This was also included in the 1998-1999 capital budget. In the 1999-2000 capital budget $2,000,000 was recommended. The capital budget notes state:
· Construction of a new building to house the vehicles, equipment and DPW offices is necessary. The existing facility should be replaced. The existing facility is beginning to age prematurely and is showing signs of structural fatigue. The existing facility is undersized to allow for the DPW to properly serve the future needs of the Village residents.
Recognizing that 1A Croton Point Avenue was the most viable location for DPW the Village included this concept in the negotiations with Allied Waste when we were working on an agreement which would have also included certain financial benefits to the Village if Allied Waste was to remain in operation. This would have provided about 4 acres of the almost 10 acres of the site for Village use. This agreement was never concluded or approved by the Board of Trustees. Allied Waste was eventually shut down by a decision of the NYS Court of Appeals.
In consideration of the continuous flooding which has taken place at the Croton Harmon Parking Facility some nearby land is also needed to provide alternate parking during periods when the parking lot floods and up to 500 cars are displaced. The area at 1A Croton Point Avenue closest to Croton Point Avenue would provide the best location for such alternate parking requirements until we are able to remedy the flooding problems in sections G and H of the Croton Harmon Parking Facility.
Our analysis of Village needs from public works, recreation, water, parking, storage space and other municipal needs shows that the entire site at 1A Croton Point Avenue is needed to provide public services to the Village of Croton-on-Hudson.
If we are successful in relocating the DPW facility to 1A Croton Point Avenue the Village will be able to demolish the current facility and utilize this area for additional, much needed parking at the Croton Harmon Station Parking Facility. We have estimated that an additional 150 spaces can be created at the existing DPW site. If the Village was able to sell non resident permits for these 150 spaces an additional $140,400 in revenue per year would be generated. In addition to these 150 spaces we estimate that 100 additional parking spaces could be created at 1A Croton Point Avenue. This would generate an additional $93,600 in revenue per year. Therefore a total of $234,000 in additional revenue per year could be used to fund the cost of acquiring 1A Croton Point Avenue and building a new DPW facility.
Submitted by: Richard F. Herbek, Village Manager of Croton-on-Hudson, New York.
Mr. Herbek is also currently Regional Vice President of the International City/ County Management Association which represents 8,000 professional local government managers across the United States and internationally.
Public Hearing for Proposed New DPW Site & Facility February 6, 2006
I have been the Superintendent of the Croton on Hudson Department of Public Works for over ten years. Almost immediately after I was hired I recognized the need for a new DPW facility. The DPW staff told me they have been pointing out to the Village Administration the need for additional storage space for equipment & supplies for many years. I requested a new Municipal Garage be placed in the Capital Budget shortly thereafter. I wanted the Village Board to understand the need and begin thinking about a new DPW facility.
How was I able to assess the need for a new facility?
There are trucks that are parked outdoors that should be parked indoors. When we have a snow storm we cannot fit trucks with the plows on them, inside the garage. In the middle of a storm if a large truck needs repair we have to remove the plow before we can make any repairs.
Because they are parked outside many of the trucks including all the sanitation and recycling trucks and large dump trucks have engine block heaters that are plugged in each night so the truck will start on the cold winter mornings. I don’t want to think about how much energy is used each winter to keep the large engine blocks warm at night.
The repair area of the garage is grossly undersized. There is one long narrow bay for large trucks or two small vehicles and two bays with lifts for small trucks or cars. When a large truck, sanitation truck, fire truck or dump truck needs repair it takes up one entire large truck bay. When major maintenance is underway on a garbage truck for instance it can be in the garage for several days. Should another large truck need immediate repair there is no room for the two vehicles in the garage at the same time. One can barely squeeze between vehicles and the storage areas and work benches when the garage repair area is fully occupied.
Lack of storage is a huge issue. Automotive supplies are out on the floor of the repair area of the garage. Truck tires are in cold storage. Cold storage is a roofed area otherwise open to the elements, kind of like a large car port. We store material in any empty corner we can find. In storage we have: biodegradable leaf bags, residential recycling bins, bags of magnesium chloride we use on the sidewalks and bags of cold patch blacktop. Each of these items is stored in different areas of the garage or where ever we can find room for them. Because these items must be kept under a roof, preferably indoors, they take the place of vehicles and equipment that should be parked under a roof. Four garbage trucks, one large dump truck, the Vac-All (a vacuum truck used to clean out catch basins and vacuum leaves), leaf loaders, stump grinder, tractor, skid steer and about 12 small dump trucks and pick-ups should all be parked indoors but are parked outside or in cold storage. The street sweeper has to be winterized and parked in cold storage each year because there is no room for it indoors. Reason being all the salt trucks absolutely have to be parked in the garage in the winter. That said we still have to park one small salt spreader truck outside during the winter because there is not enough room in the garage. That truck also has an engine block heater. This winter is one in which I wish we could sweep the Village streets but we can’t because of the limited space at the Municipal garage
The building itself is in very bad condition. The garage floor, office floor and walls continue to settle. The garage floor is different levels and has significant cracks. The concrete block walls in the office have large cracks in them. Some doors work freely in spring, summer and fall and bind in the winter when the ground heaves. The chair at my desk rolls down the hill away from my desk. When the existing Municipal Garage was built in the late 1960’s, piles were driven, some 120 feet deep, to support the structure or framework of the garage. The original floor was not concrete. A few years after the garage was built a concrete floor was poured but it was not tied into the pile caps, hence the settling of the garage floor. The office area was also not tied to the piles and is still settling after all these years hence the cracks in the walls and the sloping floor.
The office area of the Municipal Garage is also undersized. Ten years ago there was one bathroom, a uni-sex bathroom so to speak. We divided the bathroom area so we now have a men’s and woman’s room. The woman’s room is off the entrance lobby. The men’s room is at the far end of the combination locker room, lunch room. You have to squeeze between the table in the middle of the room and the lockers to get to the men’s room. The table in the middle of the room is not large enough to seat even half our employees at lunch time. One cannot even get to the men’s room when there are people seated at the table with out people getting up from the seats around the table.
During long snow storms, windstorms or hurricanes when we work around the clock there is no place for the men to rest. Even if we had cots there is not even enough available floor space to set them up. In the middle of the night when we try to get an hour or two or three of rest guys nap in the cab of trucks parked in the garage or in the cab of the plow truck left running outside the garage. There are times when guys have gone to the community room downstairs in the Municipal building and pulled out the exercise mats to nap. When we conduct training we have to schedule it in the Municipal Building meeting room. All the DPW employees meet here because it is the only room large enough to accommodate all the DPW employees. Using this room presents other issues such as parking and leaving the DPW unmanned.
Until two years ago I shared an office with two other people. We got to know each other real well but it did not lend itself to productivity or having any private conversations with Mr. Herbek or any employee. When I wanted to have a private conversation with someone I had to go outside. There were times I had to use the phone in the garage to prevent my conversation from being overheard. We have since reorganized the offices by eliminating the small garage area used for water department storage, so I now have my own office. The supplies the water department stored in the small garage at DPW were moved into storage containers we bought and placed at the well field. We have to get creative when looking for areas to store things.
The Municipal Garage has a 20 year roof that is 35 years old. We are constantly calling a roofing company to repair the roof. We spent several thousand dollars fixing leaks so far this fiscal year. Last year we were advised that it was time for a new roof, at an estimated cost of $80,000. There are new Stormwater Phase II regulations that require us to bring our DPW garage into compliance. This could cost tens of thousands of dollars. I have an engineering firm working on a proposal to bring us into full compliance with the Phase II Stormwater regulations.
Several years ago we were visited by the NYS DEC and the result of the visit was we were told to close off all the garage floor drains, so they do not discharge into the River. They also prohibited us from washing vehicles any more; so we no longer wash vehicles.
I have been asked how much the life expectancy of a piece of equipment is shortened because it is parked outside. After discussing this with our Garage Foreman, I can tell you maybe 10 – 15 %. The inability to properly wash equipment has a much greater impact on the equipment’s life. We work in a dirty environment, so dirt and dust collect in every nook and cranny in a piece of equipment. The dirt and dust gets damp and rots on the metal of the equipment. Additionally some of our equipment is handling corrosive materials on a regular basis.
We barely have enough room to park all the equipment we must park outside on our 1.2 acre site. In the summer when we employ additional summer help we do not have enough parking spaces for all our employees.
Materials storage is another major issue. Materials were stored at the far south end of the train station parking lot. This material storage area was converted into a canoe and kayak launch area and salt shed in 2000. Since that time we have been looking around the Village for places to store materials, new materials and waste materials. Waste materials such as excavated blacktop from water leaks, and drainage reconstruction jobs, excavated dirt and rock, street sweepings, tree stumps and large logs for example. We cannot buy new materials or supplies in bulk because we have no room to store things like culvert pipe, catch basins, item 4 and gravel. Recently we dismantled the culvert pipe at the drying basin for the yacht club dredging area at Croton Landing and had to place the pipe at the well field because we had no room for it anywhere else. Our supplies and materials are spread out throughout the Village. We are now using the former sewer treatment plant site, now referred to as the Municipal Place site for waste materials. Ten years ago the sewer treatment plant pits were still in place after the plant had been closed in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. We filled in the pits to make it a useable area. For several years we used the site for waste materials storage and as a compost area. Subsequently the area the DPW was using was reduced when the skate park was put in. We agree that this location is not a very good one for waste material storage because it is in the Gateway area but more importantly because it further spreads out the DPW operation. As I said earlier, the Salt shed and other new materials are stored at the south end of the train station parking lot. This past Tuesday when sections G & H of the parking lot were closed due to the coastal storm and the resulting tidal flooding; cars were parked everywhere in the area south of the Municipal garage blocking access to our materials storage area. If we had to get to the salt shed or to any gravel or item 4 we would not have been able to. This could have created a very hazardous situation throughout the entire Village if the temperature got below freezing.
The need for a new, larger and centralized DPW facility still exists. The big question was where? I understand in the late 1980’s the former Georgia-Pacific building now Finklestein Tire warehouse was looked into, as was the area of the new soccer fields at Croton Point. Former Mayor Elliott, Mr. Herbek and I spent countless hours talking about potential locations for a new DPW facility.
We looked at the Metro-North east yard, the area just north of the old Croton North Station. While small I told them we could make it work especially if we could convince the NYSDOT to allow us to use even a small portion of their Rt. 9 Right of Way. Metro North is now planning to develop that area for their own use and the NYSDOT has not looked favorably on the use of their Right of Way.
The former sewer plant at the corner of Municipal Place and Riverside Avenue sat idle for many years. All the structures were still in place 10 years ago. I recall a Village Board meeting back then when a trustee asked me why the abandoned cars were parked there. This area was used as a dumping ground by everyone. We filled in the pits and made a useful site out of the area. I thought this too could be a future DPW site. While very small, I though or perhaps hoped we could make it happen. I recall even asking if we might talk to Van Cortlandt Manor about the field just south of the Shop Rite plaza. I knew I was grasping at straws.
Two years ago, Mr. Herbek, Dan O’Connor & I met with the owners of a large parcel about a ½ mile outside the Village on Route 129, about placing the DPW facility there. That went no further than the initial discussion primarily because of the surrounding wetlands and the runoff from the property drains to the Croton River. In March 2004 I wrote a report to Mr. Herbek and the Village Board on the future needs of the DPW. I have a copy of that report titled “New DPW Facility Report” with an attached space needs estimate here. Some of the estimated space needs in my March 2004 memo, are outdated and do not include all of the Department of Public Works storage needs. Around that same time Mr. Herbek and I discussed the possibility of moving the DPW garage to the northern portion of the 1A Croton Point Avenue site. I recall telling him the area being discussed was not large enough for the future needs of the DPW.
The need for a new modern DPW facility is clear. The Municipal garage is structurally deficient. There is not enough storage area for supplies, materials or equipment. There is not enough room for our employees. The office area is too small and outdated. The repair shop is so small it’s an accident waiting to happen. Our operations are spread out all over the Village. Replacing the current DPW facility is something that has been discussed and looked into for over 20 years. It is time to plan for the next 50 plus years; this cannot wait.
I repeat the need for a centralized, unified, new DPW facility is apparent.
I am submitting my presentation, the March 2004 “New DPW Facility Report” and all these photos for the record.
Kenneth Kraft, Superintendent of Public Works, Village of Croton on Hudson, NY.
Mr. Kraft is the immediate past President of the Westchester County Association of Municipal Public Works Administrators and a past President of the New York Metropolitan Chapter of the American Public Works Association.