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Waterfront Advisory Committee Minutes 6/30/08
VILLAGE OF CROTON ON HUDSON, NEW YORK
MINUTES OF THE WATERFRONT ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEETING
MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2008


A meeting of the Waterfront Advisory Committee of the Village of Croton-on-Hudson, New York was held on Monday, June 30, 2008 in the Municipal Building.


MEMBERS PRESENT:        Fran Allen, Chairperson
                                Stuart Greenbaum
                                Susan Konig
Robert Luntz
Richard Olver
                                                                                        
                ALSO PRESENT:   Ann Gallelli from the Board of Trustees
                                        Charles Kane, former Trustee & WAC Member
Daniel O’Connor, P.E., Village Engineer
        

1.  Call to Order:

The meeting was called to order at 8:00 P.M. by Chairperson Fran Allen.

2.   IMPROVEMENTS TO THE CROTON-HARMON PARKING FIELD TO ADDRESS HIGH WATER PROBLEMS – CONSISTENCY REVIEW:

Chairperson Allen told those present that she invited former Village Board and WAC member, Charles Kane, to be present at the meeting tonight because of his knowledge of the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP), the Croton and Hudson Rivers and the day-to-day activities taking place at the Croton-Harmon station.  

Chairperson Allen noted that she, along with the Village Engineer and Charles Kane, made a site visit to the train station parking lot this past weekend.  WAC member, Susan Konig, also visited the site.

Chairperson Allen said that the WAC’s task tonight is to make a determination of consistency with the policies in the LWRP on the Village’s parking lot improvements project.  The Village’s engineering consulting firm on this project, Dvirka & Bartilucci, have already identified what they believe to be the relevant policies in the LWRP to be considered by the WAC in their determination of consistency review.  Chairperson Allen said that she has identified two additional policies which, she believes, are also relevant.  

The Village Engineer referred to Dvirka & Bartilucci’s list of policies and noted that, next to each policy, Dvirka & Bartilucci have put an explanation of how the project would be consistent with that policy. The Village Engineer noted that Dvirka & Bartilucci have included those policies in the LWRP that mainly deal with water quality and habitat.

The Village Engineer noted that the surface water at the parking lot runs into catch basins and then into the Croton Bay.  The project for the parking lot would include the installation of new surface water quality catch basins.  The Village Engineer described to the WAC members a method, which, he believes, might be an improvement to the drainage system presently being proposed.  The Village Engineer said that the use of gravel on the parking lot surface would both slow down the rate of flow and filter the water.  

Chairperson Allen said that, as she understands the project, salt and chlorides would be used as part of the process of controlling the dust when item #4 is put down.  She would want to find, if at all possible, a more environmentally sensitive approach.  Mr. Greenbaum suggested that, for dust control, the Village might look at the possibility of (simply) using water rather than salt.    

Chairperson Allen said that Dvirka & Bartilucci did not include LWRP policy #13 in their list, and she thinks that they should have.  She read aloud policy #13:

“The construction or reconstruction of erosion protection structures shall be undertaken only if they have a reasonable probability of controlling erosion for at least thirty years as demonstrated in design and construction standards and/or assured maintenance or replacement programs.”

Chairperson Allen said that the subsequent policy #13A refers to the restoration and maintenance of bulkheads along the Hudson River for erosion control purposes.

Mr. Greenbaum said that he would think that a thirty-year life span for the Gabion wall being proposed would be a “tall order,” to which Mr. Luntz responded that this wall would probably be good for thirty years.  The Village Engineer noted that, with the proper maintenance, he, too, would think that the Village would probably get close to thirty years out of the Gabion baskets (wall).  Mr. Olver said that this barrier (wall) would be there to protect against the scouring tides.  The wall would be acting like a bulkhead.  He questioned (again) if the Gabion wall being proposed would last thirty years.  The Village Engineer said that, in the end, “You get what you pay for.”  The wall would have a longer life if the Village were willing to pay “a little more” for the initial baskets.  Mr. Luntz suggested that the WAC could make a finding that the Gabion wall should be built to a thirty-year standard.

Mr. Olver asked what the Village might be able to do to require more rigorous inspections and maintenance of the new parking lot facility.  The Village Engineer suggested that an annual report could be required.  The report would include the current conditions of the parking lot and the remedial action being proposed.  The Village Engineer said that the Village Engineer’s office and/or the DPW would be responsible for the report.  Mr. Kane suggested that a one-page standard form could be made up that is site-specific.  Ms. Konig said that, in order for future Village boards to keep better track of the condition of the parking lot, it would be helpful to have this regular yearly assessment (report).  

Ms. Allen referred to LWRP policy #30 regarding municipal discharge of pollutants into coastal waters.  Ms. Allen said that, in so far as this policy is concerned, she would think that the project presently being proposed at the train station parking lot would be an opportunity to establish a pollutant-free storm drain system from the DPW site. The present proposal might also present an opportunity to investigate the sanitary waste disposal system at the Municipal Garage.  Mr. Greenbaum questioned whether these activities would be part of the scope of this (the parking lot) project.  He would agree that these activities should be looked at, but he would think that they might be “a little out of this area.”  Mr. Kane said that chemicals carried on DPW trucks go into the Bay.  He (Mr. Kane) would suggest that, to protect the environment and to improve the drainage at the DPW site, the Village could look into tying their system into the larger storm water system being proposed.  Mr. Greenbaum questioned whether there would be enough money in the budget to include this additional work.  Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC could recommend to the Village Board that the drainage tie-in at the DPW site be taken into consideration. Mr. Kane pointed out that it would make common sense to do it at this point in time.

Ms. Allen said that LWRP policy #37 was also not included in Dvirka & Bartilucci’s list and should have been.  She read aloud policy #37:

“Best Management Practices will be utilized to minimize the non-point discharge of excess nutrients, organics and eroded soils into coastal waters.”

Mr. Kane said that he would like to share with the WAC members his comments on the train station parking lot project.  He distributed to the WAC an informational packet that he had prepared on the potential environmental impacts of the project.  Mr. Kane told the WAC members that he served on the WAC for many years and took the WAC’s responsibilities in reviewing activities along the waterfront very seriously.  Mr. Kane noted that he has put on the first page of his report the legislative intent of the Village’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program (LWRP).  Also, on the first page, is the definition of “Critical Environmental Area (CEA).”  The train station parking lot is in a CEA.  Mr. Kane said that any activity taking place in the CEA should “earn extra points for a higher review by any regulatory board.”   Mr. Kane noted that he has listed in his report the items (sediments, toxic compounds, thermal plumes, etc.), which would adversely affect the water quality in the Croton Bay and Hudson River.  Mr. Kane noted that the effects of thermal plumes on fish have been well documented since the 1970’s.  A few degrees of extra heat are all it takes to kill spawning fish and embryos.  

Mr. Kane stated that, further on in his report, he addresses storm water Best Management Practices (BMP’s) that go above and beyond those addressed in the Dvirka & Bartilucci study.  Mr. Kane described the first two BMP’s.  BMP #1 involves a daily inspection of silt prevention devices and BMP #2 would ban the use of fertilizers for ornamental plants at the train station lot.       

Mr. Kane said that BMP #3 involves an oil/water separator system to tie into the drainage system at the DPW site.  He would think that the establishment of such a system should be a part of the parking lot project.  Furthermore, an alternate BMP would investigate an Intermunicipal Agreement (IMA) between Metro North and the Village allowing the Village to use the sanitary pretreatment system at the train station for the DPW site.  

Mr. Kane said that BMP’s #’s 4 and 5 deal with policies preventing the use of pollutants in the parking lot drainage area(s).

Mr. Kane referred to BMP #6 involving the installation of permeable pavement at the parking lot to minimize the negative effects of thermal plumes. Mr. Kane noted that the Village Engineer had suggested earlier in the meeting the use of gravel to enhance surface water filtration.  Mr. Luntz said that he would think that, in their memorandum to the Village Board, the WAC should recommend that a porous material be used. The Village Engineer noted that a porous pavement could get clogged over time, to which Mr. Kane responded that, in conjunction with the use of a porous material, sweeping would have to be required.  The Village Engineer suggested that he could ask Dvirka & Bartilucci to look into this matter.  Mr. Kane reiterated the importance of minimizing the effects of thermal plumes.  Ocean species of fish come into the Croton River to spawn.  They leave behind the “young of the year.”  The fish incubate in the Croton Bay.  They stay until September and then return to the ocean.  Mr. Kane said that he would want to make sure that mitigation measures were in place to protect the “young of the year.”

Mr. Kane referred to BMP #7, the purpose(s) of which would be to further filter the storm water and prevent tidal scouring.  BMP #7 would involve putting a vegetative buffer around the southern perimeter of the lot.  Such a vegetative strip would prevent tidal scouring in the lower area.  Mr. Olver asked Mr. Kane what area he is referring to, to which Mr. Kane responded that he is referring to the northern-most tip of the Bay.  Mr. Olver said that his suggestion is (would be) to take the area beyond the three-foot line and let the small “one-quarter moon area” go back to nature.  Mr. Olver noted that ten to twelve parking spaces would be lost; however, he would think that, at this point in time, the Village is “fighting a losing battle” against the tides anyway.  Mr. Kane added that he would continue the vegetative buffer farther south to the area that is scoured to prevent further scouring in the future.               

Mr. Kane referred to BMP #8 pertaining to timelines for construction activities.  These activities should not take place during the time that fish are spawning (April to September).  Mr. Kane pointed out to the WAC members that Westchester County is replacing the entire bulkhead at Croton Point Park.  The County is not doing construction work during the spawning or “young of the year” seasons.

Mr. Kane noted that BMP #9 pertaining to the preparation of an annual report on maintenance has already been discussed tonight.

Mr. Kane said that BMP #10 calls for having a containment kit on hand for the DPW or Police Department to use in case of spills/leaking fluids from vehicles parked at the train station lot.

Mr. Luntz suggested that the WAC could include Mr. Kane’s report, in its entirety, with the memorandum being sent to the Village Board, to which Mr. Olver agreed.  

A discussion ensued among the WAC members as to what should be considered a condition of the WAC’s consistency determination and what should (just) be a recommendation. Ms. Konig said that, with respect to Mr. Kane’s report, she would think that some of the items listed could be conditions, but other items should just be recommendations.  Mr. Kane said that, in his view, BMP #1 calling for daily inspections on silt prevention devices should be one of the conditions; however, BMP #2 on the use of fertilizers could be a recommendation.  Mr. Kane said that the first part of BMP #3, pertaining to the drainage system at the DPW site, should also be a condition.  The second part of BMP #3 involving the treatment of sanitary wastes at the DPW facility could be a recommendation. Mr. Kane noted that, with respect to the sewage disposal system, the Village should look into the possibility of pumping the sewage over to Metro North through gravity rather than having the sewage at the DPW facility taken away.        

Mr. Kane suggested that BMP #4 could be a recommendation rather than a condition.  The WAC could recommend to the Village Board that the Village make it a policy to prevent the use of herbicides and pesticides in the parking lot drainage area.

Chairperson Allen referred to BMP #5 on banning the use of salt and chlorides for snow and ice removal and said that she would like to make BMP #5 a condition of the WAC’s consistency determination.

Mr. Olver said that he would want to make BMP #4 a condition rather than a recommendation.  He would be concerned about weeds and growth in the parking lot drainage area.  He would want to avoid the use of pesticides at the water’s edge.  Mr. Greenbaum asked if the banning of pesticides would be during construction or during and after construction, to which Chairperson Allen said that she would think it should be both during and after construction.  The Village Engineer said that he would think that a condition regarding the use of pesticides and herbicides during construction could be a part of the bid packet.  He said that a policy preventing the use of pesticides and herbicides altogether might not be reasonable.  Ms. Konig said that, in her view, this issue regarding the use of herbicides and pesticides is getting into “fuzzy areas” about what the WAC should be doing tonight.  Mr. Greenbaum suggested that the wording of BMP #4 could be changed.  Instead of “a clear policy preventing the use of herbicides and pesticides…” the wording could be changed to “a clear policy on the use of herbicides and pesticides…”  Also, BMP #4 could be a recommendation and not a condition. The WAC members all agreed.

Mr. Kane said that he would think BMP #6 regarding a permeable parking lot surface should be a condition.  He would want to see the effects of thermal plumes mitigated to the greatest extent possible.  The Village Engineer said that the current design does not address thermal plumes.  He would think that “with a little extra money, we [the Village] could do a lot more storm water treatment” to help mitigate the environmental impacts.  Mr. Kane referred the committee members to the attachment to his report on thermal pollution.  He read aloud the recommended thermal criteria for estuaries.  He said that the Village would want to meet these recommended standards.  Ms. Konig asked if this issue regarding thermal plumes was ever raised with the Village’s consultants on the project.  She would be interested to know if Dvirka & Bartilucci had ever dealt with this before.  Mr. Kane said that he feels that the installation of a permeable pavement is a “holistic fix for solving thermal plumes.”  Mr. Luntz said that the Village would need more information to be certain that the installation of a permeable pavement is the right answer.  The Village Engineer noted that, at the very least, the New York State standards on thermal plumes would need to be met.  The WAC could say in their memorandum that the storm water plan being proposed does not appear to mitigate the thermal impacts.  Ms. Konig noted that the project presently being proposed at the parking lot is not causing the thermal plumes.  She would want to mitigate the situation to the greatest extent possible, but she does not “hold this project responsible for a problem that has existed.”  Mr. Kane said that the standard has been raised on the impacts to aquatic life with the formation of CEA’s.  The standards were not as high twenty years ago when the parking lot was improved.  Mr. Kane said that he feels that the Village has to “live up to this higher (CEA) standard.”

Ms. Konig said that, with respect to this issue regarding permeable pavement and thermal plumes, she would think that the WAC, in their memorandum to the Village Board, needs to put this matter in such terms as to not be “locking ourselves in.”  Mr. Greenbaum suggested that the WAC should say words to the effect that in so far as the project design allows, the goal should be to reach today’s standards.  The goal should be to get as close as possible with the understanding that the Village is not going to hold someone accountable for not meeting those standards. Mr. Kane thought that Mr. Greenbaum’s suggestion was a reasonable one.

Mr. Kane referred to BMP #7 regarding the installation of a vegetative buffer strip on the southern perimeter of the parking lot.  He thought that BMP #7 should be a condition.  Ms. Konig noted that this BMP is not in Dvirka & Bartilucci’s proposal, to which Mr. Kane said that none of the BMP’s being discussed tonight are in their proposal.  These BMP’s are above and beyond the standard practices.  Ms. Konig questioned making this BMP (#7) a condition.  The Village Engineer said that, with respect to the vegetative strip, he would first want to know the benefits of putting in the strip.  He would think that it could be done, but he would not want to create an unnecessary maintenance issue.  Mr. Luntz thought that this matter should be deferred to Dvirka & Bartilucci.  He, personally, would be uncomfortable making it a condition.  Mr. Olver pointed out an advantage to putting a vegetative buffer along the wall stating that organic plants would expand and contract whereas pavement placed right up against the wall would shift and then crumble.  

Mr. Olver reiterated a suggestion that he had made earlier involving allowing a small area of the parking lot (the “one-quarter moon area”) to go back to nature.  He said that even though ten to twelve parking spaces would be lost, he would think that it would make more sense than going to the expense of improving this area for parking and then having it lost to the tides.

Chairperson Allen suggested that BMP #7 could be a recommendation, to which the other WAC members agreed.

Mr. Kane referred to BMP #8 involving the establishment of a construction timeline for the protection of spawning fish.  He suggested that the WAC’s condition should be to start construction in the fall and end in the spring to avoid the cyclical spawning season from April to September.  The Village Engineer noted that the contractor doing the job would have to pave during the summer months.  He would be concerned about the WAC saying that there should be “no construction” during that time period.  Mr. Kane said that he would be concerned about the effects on the fish in the Croton River of paving in the summertime.  Ms. Konig expressed her concern about tying up the project.  She, too, would want to protect spawning fish and the “young of the year;” however, to “hamstring” the project in this way might defeat the purpose of doing the project in the first place.  Ms. Konig noted that, in Dvirka & Bartilucci’s presentation on the project, they made reference to the adverse environmental impacts relating to the existing parking lot and how, in some ways, a new parking lot would be an environmental asset.  She would not want to hold this project to “too high of a standard” by limiting when the construction could take place. Chairperson Allen said that she would like to have Dvirka & Bartilucci come back with a plan that would avoid April to September.  Mr. Olver suggested that the Village could require the construction to be staged in such a way as to have construction completed in the most sensitive areas first. Mr. Greenbaum said, “We need to define what is the most egregious construction activity” and stage the work accordingly.   Mr. Greenbaum pointed out that it would be unfair to those people using the parking lot to delay for too long the construction.  He would think that there could be compromises made to protect the environment and, at the same, move forward with the work.  Mr. Luntz said that, in terms of the timing, he would think the Gabion wall should be done first.  The Village Engineer said that, indeed, the Gabion wall would be one of the first items and construction would start in the fall.      

Mr. Olver suggested that, with respect to the construction process, the Village could require Dvirka & Bartilucci to design the staging of work in such a way as to avoid construction that is capable of causing harm to the eco-system during the spawning period.  The Village Engineer suggested further that Dvirka & Bartilucci could “rate” the components of the construction and make their staging decision(s) accordingly.  Mr. Luntz said that the overall goal would be to have construction take place during a time that does not affect the fish.  Dvirka & Bartilucci would be told that this is the Village’s goal and they, in turn, would let the Village know how it could be done.  

Mr. Kane said that he would think BMP’s #’s 9 and 10 should be conditions.  BMP #9 involves implementing a management plan to maintain structural and non-structural BMP’s.  BMP #10 would require making available to Village employees a spill kit for containing spills and leaks at the parking lot.

Chairperson Allen noted to the WAC members that the Village Engineer suggested at the site visit putting a bicycle trail on the embankment that empties out onto the parking lot.  The Village Engineer told the WAC members that, indeed, there was a design for a set of stairs from the Crossining down into the parking lot.  Perhaps, the Village could have the contractor put in a ramp.  The Village Engineer noted that the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) would have to approve this project as it is within the DOT right-of-way.  Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC could include, as a recommendation to the Village Board, this proposal for a “new” bicycle/pedestrian connection.

Chairperson Allen told the WAC members that she, personally, had been feeling somewhat uncomfortable about whether the Village was over- or under-invested in what the benefit of the new parking lot would be.  She printed out from the Internet, for use at the meeting tonight, a chart showing the “predicted versus actual” tides for one month at Battery Park in New York City.  She discovered that several times during the month the high tides exceeded the predicted level(s).  Chairperson Allen stated that the cost of the parking lot project in the Village is based on raising the parking lot by five feet.  The height is based on projected (predicted) tides, but the actual tides might be higher.  Chairperson Allen suggested that a cost benefit analysis could be done to determine what the benefit would be of raising the parking lot to a higher level and whether the improvement would be worth the cost.  Trustee Gallelli noted to those present that when the Village applied for a FEMA grant for the parking lot repair, the required elevation was six rather than five feet.  Trustee Gallelli noted that the feasibility of raising the elevation to six feet was considered for the grant application, but the project of raising the parking lot to this height would be much more expensive.

Chairperson Allen suggested that the WAC should review the Coastal Assessment Form (CAF).  Mr. Greenbaum referred to page 4 of the CAF and said that, in his view, the answer to 6(g) “Does the present site offer or include scenic views or vistas known to be important to the community?” should be “yes” instead of “no.”  Mr. Greenbaum said that also on page 4, question 10 “Will the project alter drainage flow patterns or surface water runoff on or from the site?” the answer should be “yes” instead of “no.”  Finally, the answer to question 11 “Will the project utilize or affect the quality or quantity of sole water runoff on or from the site?” should be “yes.”

The Village Engineer said that under item #9 on page 1 “List and describe streams, lakes, ponds or wetlands existing within or contiguous to the project site,” the list should include the Croton Bay and the Hudson River.  The Village Engineer said that the list should also include the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC) wetlands.

The Village Engineer said that on page 2, question 1(a) “Will the proposed action be located in or contiguous to any of the resource areas identified on the coastal area map?” the answer should be “yes” instead of “no.”  Likewise, the answer to 1(b) “Will the proposed action be located in or contiguous to significant fish or wildlife habitats?” the answer should be “yes.”  Chairperson Allen noted that the answer to 2(e) “Will the proposed action have a significant effect upon commercial or recreational use of fish and wildlife resources?” the answer should be “yes.”  

Chairperson Allen said that the answer to question 4 on page 3 “Will the proposed action be located in or have a significant effect upon an area included in an approved Local Waterfront Revitalization Program?” should be “yes” instead of “no.”

Chairperson Allen reviewed for the WAC members the conditions and recommendations that would be enumerated in the WAC’s determination of consistency memorandum to the Village Board.   The Village Engineer suggested to the WAC that, in so far as the recommendation regarding porous pavement is concerned, the WAC should raise this issue as a question i.e., “Is porous pavement going to be on [the surface] and if not, why not?”  The Village should ask Dvirka & Bartilucci to discuss the surface treatments so as to be in a better position to know why one should be chosen rather than another.  Mr. Kane noted that the goal is to prevent thermal plumes.  Mr. Luntz pointed out that, with respect to the pavement surface, the Village would need to know their (Dvirka & Bartilucci’s) plan to mitigate the environmental impact(s).  

Chairperson Allen entertained a motion to find this project consistent with the policies of the LWRP subject to the conditions discussed tonight.  The motion was made by Mr. Greenbaum, seconded by Ms. Konig and carried by a vote of 5 to 0.

Chairperson Allen told the WAC that she would prepare a draft memorandum and distribute it to the WAC via email.  Chairperson Allen noted that the next Village Board meeting is Monday, July 7th.  The WAC should try to have their memorandum prepared in time for the July 7th meeting.

3.  APPROVAL OF MINUTES:

The WAC members unanimously approved the minutes of the Wednesday, March 19, 2008 and the Tuesday, April 15, 2008 meetings.
  
4.  ADJOURNMENT:

There being no further business to come before the Committee, the meeting was duly adjourned at 11:00 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,



Sylvia Mills
Secretary