Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 08/03/05
VILLAGE OF CROTON-ON-HUDSON, NEW YORK

MINUTES OF THE WATERFRONT ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2005:


A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Wednesday, August 3, 2005 in the Municipal Building.


                  MEMBERS PRESENT:              Chairperson Fran Allen
                                                Ann Gallelli
                                                Mark Goldfarb for Stuart Greenbaum
                                                Charles Kane
                                                Leo Wiegman

                     ALSO PRESENT:              Daniel O’Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
                                                                                                

                                
1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 7:50 P.M. by Chairperson Fran Allen.

2.  EXTENSION OF RIVERWALK TRAIL THROUGH BEAVERKILL SECTION OF CROTON LANDING – CONSISTENCY REVIEW

Chairperson Allen stated that the main topic of discussion tonight for the WAC is the consistency review for the extension of the Riverwalk Trail through the Beaverkill property.  

Chairperson Allen said that she called Janine King in the Village Manager’s Office today regarding the conservation easement between the Village and the Open Space Conservancy, Inc. (OSC) for the Beaverkill property.  Chairperson Allen noted that the important point for her in the easement agreement is Item 3.4 “Cutting and Clearing Trees,” which states that there should be “no cutting or removing of trees having a diameter at breast height of four inches or more…..”  The County’s current plans for the Riverwalk Trail, prepared by Cherbuliez/Munz, P.L.L.C. Landscape Architects and Site Planners, show a significant amount of tree cutting for the trail extension.  Her (Chairperson Allen’s) understanding of the conservation easement is that significant trees are not to be removed.  The old Beaverkill property is to be left in a pristine state.  Chairperson Allen stated that, according to the easement agreement, the property could be improved but should be maintained “in a natural way.”  Chairperson Allen noted to the WAC that the Village Manager’s Office has since forwarded to the OSC for their review the information on the proposed trail extension.  

Chairperson Allen questioned whether the County was aware of the conditions of the conservation easement when they drew up their plans, to which the Village Engineer said that he thinks the County was aware of the agreement.  He (the Village Engineer) had brought it to the attention of the Village Manager and the County’s landscape architects a long time ago.

Ms. Gallelli thought that a legitimate question to ask would be why all these trees have to be cut down as opposed to just cutting down those trees that would be necessary for the creation of the trail.    

Chairperson Allen said that she visited the site and noticed that some of the trees are significant in size.  She thought that one of the largest was an elm tree.  

Chairperson Allen noted that a considerable amount of landscaping is being proposed.  It would seem that the land would more than likely have to be clear-cut to install all of these new plantings.  Mr. Wiegman noted that many of the existing trees on the property are invasive species.  The landscape architect’s intent might be to reestablish native species.  Ms. Gallelli thought that their intent is also to create a vegetative barrier (screening) from the road with the landscaping.

Ms. Gallelli noted that the current plans show the trees that are going to be removed.  The WAC would also want to know what trees on the property would remain.  Chairperson Allen thought that the WAC should ask the landscape architects for a tree survey, which would identify the trees by their species and their size.  The tree survey would show the trees to remain and those to be removed.  Mr. Kane said that he would like to see a letter from the OSC stating that they approve of the County’s proposed improvements as shown on the plans.  He would want the OSC’s written consent.  The Village should be looking for such a letter from the OSC.

Ms. Gallelli stated that the County’s landscape architects, Cherbuliez/Munz, would be at the Village Board work session on Monday night.  They plan to give a presentation on the trail project.  She suggested that the WAC could compile, tonight, a list of their questions/comments on the project, which they could bring up at the work session.

The Village Engineer showed the WAC members the original topographic survey of the property entitled “Topographic Map Croton Waterfront,” which included a mapping of the trees.  The Village Engineer told the WAC members that it appears from this map that the County’s landscape architects are, indeed, proposing to cut down all the existing trees in the trail area for the implementation of the new landscaping plan.   

Ms. Gallelli reiterated that it would be worth asking Cherbuliez/Munz why all the trees have to come down.  Perhaps they would not have to.  Mr. Kane said that he would like to have an explanation as to why the land would have to be clear-cut.  Ms. Gallelli wondered if part of the explanation would be that the new plantings, presently being proposed, are more indigenous to the site.  If so, then that would be an argument for getting rid of the invasive species.  Mr. Wiegman noted that the new plan shows a higher diversity of species than what presently exists.  He thought that an argument might be that it would be valuable to the ecosystem to put in self-sustaining, indigenous plants.  Chairperson Allen said that she would like to hear the landscape architects’ rationale for the removal and replacement of the trees.

Chairperson Allen noted again that the expectation of OSC in the conservation easement was that the property should remain “as natural as possible.”  She would want to know how close the proposed landscaping is to “natural” and also, what the implications would be for the Village of maintaining this new landscaping.  

Chairperson Allen stated that, with respect to the Great Lawn project at Croton Landing, it is her understanding that the Village’s intent for the Great Lawn was that it be an open and undeveloped area. The Riverwalk Trail was to be left more natural.  Mr. Wiegman noted that Cherbuliez/Munz actually envisioned the difference in the terrain that Chairperson Allen has just described.  Their concept was that when one leaves the open space of the Great Lawn, one would enter into an area filled with diverse plantings.  He added that Ms. Munz felt that it would be important to create this gentle transition in the terrain from the Great Lawn to the Riverwalk Trail.  Mr. Wiegman stated that their rationale for the landscaping plan was to arrange the space in such a way as to offer the best possible views of the river and create a barrier, using native species of plants, between the rail yard and the trail.  Mr. Wiegman noted that, as part of the trail project, there would also be installed a new pedestrian bridge and bump-outs for seating (benches).

Ms. Gallelli stated that another issue that needs to be addressed is the parking at Croton Landing.  She noted that there is, and will continue to be, a proliferation of activity in this area due to the Great Lawn, the enhancement of the trail(s) and the normal use of Croton Landing by fishermen.  The parking issue has not been properly addressed.  Ms. Gallelli stated that the Village would like the County to help provide some of the parking, at least in conjunction with the Riverwalk Trail project.  Ms. Gallelli said that she realizes Cherbuliez/Munz are not in a position to discuss the parking at the work session Monday night; but, perhaps, they could go back to the County with the Village’s concerns.       

Mr. Kane said that one of his concerns with the project is the proposed elimination of a small natural ramp for fishing boats that has been on the property for fifty years.  There is a boat basin in the area where the new bridge is going to be. This boat basin is used for access to the river by recreational and commercial fishermen. The fishermen launch their small 14 to 16-foot boats from this boat basin.  Once the bridge/boardwalk is built, this area would no longer be accessible to them.  Mr. Kane noted that there is no other access in the immediate area for these small fishing boats. He noted further that the County is not providing another access area for these boats.  The Village Engineer stated that a launching site for kayaks is being provided.  Mr. Kane stated that Croton Landing already has a launching site for kayaks.  His objection with the current proposal is that the County is substituting one recreational use for another.  Access to the river for fishermen should also be accommodated.  Mr. Kane said that another (alternative) site for the fishermen to launch their boats should be provided.  

Mr. Kane referred to the map of Croton Landing and pointed to an area at the southern end, which he believed, could be an alternative site for launching small fishing boats. He noted that there is considerable debris in this area that would have to be cleared out.  Mr. Kane stated that other types of small craft besides fishing boats could also use this site as a launching area.  Ms. Gallelli brought up the issue of parking and stated that perhaps an agreement could be reached between the Village and the railroad (CSX) to make parking available for small boats and trailers.  The Village Engineer suggested that the WAC could bring up this matter of the boat launch in their memorandum to the Village Board.  The WAC could say that this area at the southern end of Croton Landing should be evaluated as a small boat launching area to replace the loss of the small boat launch on the Beaverkill property.      

Chairperson Allen referred to page 5 of the Full Environmental Assessment Form.  She pointed out that under “Project Description,” no new off-street parking spaces are being proposed for the Riverwalk Trail extension project.  Ms. Gallelli reiterated what she had said earlier in the meeting about the parking at Croton Landing, that more uses are being proposed for this area but no new parking.  The Village needs to evaluate the parking situation.  Mr. Wiegman agreed that an evaluation of the current parking situation should be performed. He said that the Village needs to create a “parking template,” taking into consideration the current uses of the property as well as those being proposed.  Ms. Gallelli noted that a certain amount of space on the southern end of Croton Landing would have to be used for parking if CSX decides to fence off, for security reasons, the parking area currently being used on the northern end.  She noted further that extra spaces or a different type of parking space would have to be provided for boats with trailers.  Mr. Kane suggested that diagonal parking could be put in the southern end.  Ms. Gallelli stated that, with respect to the Riverwalk Trail extension project before the WAC tonight, the WAC could say in their memorandum that the parking should be assessed.  The WAC could also make the suggestion that the Village should look at the overall parking situation at Croton Landing and perhaps develop a plan, which might include diagonal parking.  

Mr. Goldfarb stated that the City of Peekskill has recently made improvements to their waterfront, which included improvements to the parking.  Perhaps, the Village could look at the Peekskill plan to get a rough idea of the amount and types of parking spaces required.   

Ms. Gallelli reiterated that there are two matters regarding the parking that need to be addressed.  The first is the parking at the northern end of Croton Landing for the Riverwalk Trail extension. The second is the overall parking situation at Croton Landing and the possible accommodation of boats and trailers at the southern end.   

Chairperson Allen suggested to the WAC members that the WAC should reserve their decision on the consistency with the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP) of the Riverwalk Trail extension project until after the work session presentation scheduled for Monday, August 8th.   

3.  DISCUSSION OF 7/13/05 MEMORANDUM ON CLEAN WATER PROTECTION/FLOOD PREVENTION ACT

Chairperson Allen stated that the Village Manager has sent the WAC a memorandum, dated July 13, 2005, asking the WAC to review material regarding a bill before the New York State Senate entitled “The Clean Water Protection/Flood Prevention Act.”

Ms. Gallelli stated that, as she understands it, the Village Board is asking the Waterfront Advisory Committee, the Conservation Advisory Council and the Water Control Commission to provide letters of support, which the Village Board would use as part of their resolution in support of this legislation.

Mr. Kane read aloud the following sentence from the materials sent to the WAC on the proposed legislation:  

“By adding your name to the list of public officials that support the Clean Water Protection/Flood Prevention Act, you can help save wetlands, protect clean water and public health, prevent flooding, preserve habitat and wetland-dependent wildlife, and foster education and tourism opportunities in your community.”

Mr. Kane noted that it is now up to each state to strengthen its own definition of what constitutes a “wetlands.” The state legislation, which is now being proposed, is due to the rollback in federal protection of “isolated” wetlands areas.

Mr. Wiegman told the WAC members that the Village Board has not yet passed their resolution, so the WAC still has time to write their letter of support.  Mr. Wiegman suggested that the WAC could say in their letter that they support this legislation and find it to be consistent with the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program.  Mr. Wiegman noted that the only significant wetlands, which are left, are the smaller “isolated” wetlands that the federal government is no longer protecting.  The state wants to include these smaller wetlands in their definition of wetlands.

Chairperson Allen told the committee members that she has spoken to the CAC about this matter.  She has also attended a meeting on this subject sponsored by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.  Chairperson Allen stated that, at the state level, wetlands of 12.4 acres or larger are protected.  The Village has no wetlands of that size except for the area out on Croton Point.  Chairperson Allen stated that the purpose of the meeting was to encourage municipalities to identify wetlands of local significance that need to be protected.  Three significant wetlands areas in the Village that need to be protected are the Arboretum, Bessemer Swamp and Kaplan’s Pond.  Mr. Wiegman said that the idea is that, once the Village declares these areas to be significant wetlands, the DEC would be allowed to regulate activities impacting these wetlands.  Chairperson Allen noted that these areas would have to be specifically identified and mapped.  Ms. Gallelli added that the Village would be responsible for mapping them.    

Ms. Gallelli noted that the Village’s wetlands ordinance is in the process of being revised.  A proposal being considered is the introduction into the law of 5,000 square feet of wetlands as a “significant wetlands area.”

Chairperson Allen stated that she would write a letter to the Village Board on behalf of the WAC in support of the proposed state amendments to strengthen the New York State wetlands regulations.

4.  DISCUSSION OF 6/9/05 MEMORANDUM ON EASEMENT TO METRO NORTH FOR HARMON RAIL YARD

Chairperson Allen stated that the WAC received a memorandum from the Village Manager, dated June 9, 2005, regarding an easement for Metro North to construct a storm water pipe at the Harmon Rail Yard.    

Mr. Kane stated that Metro North requires an easement over a portion of County property to put in a storm water pipe.  There is, presently, no storm water infrastructure.  This storm water pipe is a “first step” in providing proper storm water management at the rail yard.  The installation of this pipe would help protect the Hudson River.    

Chairperson Allen noted to the committee members that the WAC does not need to take any formal action on this proposal.  The materials were sent to the WAC “for information only.”

5.  UPDATE ON CROTON LANDING GREAT LAWN PROJECT

The Village Engineer noted to the WAC members that the update on the Great Lawn project was included in the main topic of discussion tonight, i.e. the Riverwalk Trail extension.  He had nothing further to add at this time.

Chairperson Allen stated that, with respect to the proposal for the Great Lawn, she reviewed the LWRP and it specifically states that no structures are to be allowed in this area.  She would want to make sure that the Great Lawn remains a natural open space. She would want it to remain “a great lawn.”  Mr. Wiegman stated that, other than a comfort station and a sewer connection, there would be no other “structures” built in this area.  No dugouts or baseball diamonds would be built.  The Village Engineer asked if benches are being installed, to which Mr. Wiegman said that he does not think they will be necessary.  The field (Great Lawn) is supposed to serve many different recreational purposes.  The Village Engineer noted that nothing could ever be built in this area without the Village Board’s approval.  Chairperson Allen reiterated that, by its very definition, the Great Lawn should remain a natural and open space.         

6.          APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The minutes of the Wednesday, February 23, 2005 Waterfront Advisory Committee meeting were approved on a motion by Mr. Kane, seconded by Mr. Wiegman and carried by a vote of 4 to 0.  Mr. Goldfarb was not at the meeting when the vote was taken.

7.          ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting duly adjourned at 9: 40 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary