(Scroll down for discussion of sewer district extensions for Hallocks Mill District. Note also that some discussions relating to punp stations are organized under a separate sub heading and that a keyword search should be used in order to caputre all the meetings. )
Town Board, 6-19-2018
Hallocks Mill Sewer extension district
Former Supervisor Michael Grace took exception to a comment he said he had read that the financing plan for sewers he proposed last year was not legal. Calling that “bad advice” he defended his plan, adding that if he was still supervisor, there would have been shovels in the ground. Supervisor Gilbert took exception to the shovel comment and said that Mr. Grace’s plan was not viable.
In response to his comments, Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary), advised Mr. Grace to watch the video of the 6-12-2018 meeting during which the town’s long time bond counsel said that his plan was not legal.
Hallocks Mill Pump station bid award:
Approved an amendment to the resolution passed the previous week for the upgrade of three pump stations that corrected the total amount of $2,345,000.
Town Board, 6-12-2018
Proposed Hallocks Mill Sewer extension district
Town Engineer Quinn and a representative of GHD, the outside engineering firm that is handling the issue, presented the latest plan for sewering approximately 660 existing houses on septic systems in six neighborhoods: Sunrise Street, Sparkle Lake, Birch Street area, Ridge Street area, Broadview Street and Carolina Road. It was explained, however, that based on the flow limitations in treatment plant’s current DEC SPEDES operating permit and current flows, only about 450 of the 660 houses could be sewered in a Phase 1. While the 450 include the first three neighborhoods, if some of those homeowners don’t want sewers, the town could reach out to the other three neighborhoods to reach a total of 450 connections.
GHD also explained that as part of the plan, both the aging Crystal Lake pump station would have to be upgraded and some of the existing sewer truck lines need to be upgraded as flows exceed their capacity during period of heavy rains, causing potential undesirable backflows.
Pending several decisions the board has to make, it was not possible to give the affected homeowners a sense of what sewers would cost. The town’s bond counsel did say, however, that a financing plan proposed last year (see meeting summary for 5/17/2017 below) was “arbitrary and capricious” and therefore not feasible. Councilwoman Roker said that the homeowners needed to know what sewers would cost them before they decided to petition the town to be included in a sewer district.
The decisions the board will have to make include.
--Whether to proceed now with the available $10M from the East of Hudson fund or wait until more outside funding can possibly be secured that would lower the cost to the homeowners.
--How to allocate the $10M among the homeowners that would be part of the district.
--How to handle the anticipated $10,000-$17,000 one time hook up cost for approximately 200 homeowners who would have to tie in to a low pressure system as opposed to a gravity system that would service most of the houses.
--How to handle to cost aspects of the project within the confines of the tax cap.
No decisions were made at the meeting, but the board was urged to prepare cost estimates so that homeowner interest in being sewered could be determined. Supervisor Gilbert appeared inclined to proceed with the $10M available now and not wait for more possible funding. He advised the board that Yorktown ran the risk of losing the funds if it did not act to use them soon.
Hallocks Mill pump stations
In a reversal of a previous decision, the board decided to keep the Jefferson Park pump station in the Hallocks Mill sewer district and award the bid to build a new pump station. The vote came after the town’s bond counsel said that in the absence of state legislation needed to take the 37 homes out of the Hallocks Mill district – which could take a year to enact – the homeowners would have to pay taxes to both the Hallocks Mill and the Peekskill districts. Ed Mahoney, the sewer superintendent, explained that the existing pump station is so outdated that parts aren’t even available and that something had to be done soon.
Town Board, 5-22-2018
The board voted to award the bid to replace two pump stations but held back taking any action for the Jefferson Park pump station pending more discussions. The board wants to look at the numbers again relating to the Jefferson Park pump station, holding out the possibility that the town could save money if the facility was diverted and if the cost was paid for by the Hallocks Mill district. Asked during a second Courtesy to explain how the Hallocks Mill district could pay for the diversion, Supervisor Gilbert said the answer was too complicated to explain in two minutes. Councilwoman Roker said she still was confused about the numbers but that she was open to considering an idea proposed by Councilman Lachterman (that neither explained) and that a public meeting on sewers should be scheduled.
Town Board, 4-24-2018
The focus of the discussion was how to deal with the Jefferson Park pump station and whether to replace it with a new pump station or build a gravity line to divert the sewage to Peekskill. Mr. Quinn said that replacing the station would cost $490,000. Last year, the town’s engineering consultant estimated that the new diversion pipe would cost $325,000, plus there would a cost of $50,000-$75,000 to decommission the existing station. Also the plan needed easements.
The focus of the discussion was how much it would cost the 37 homes if they were part of Peekskill and how much revenue the Hallocks Mill district would lose. Also at issue, with no clear answer, was who would pay the $88,000 buy-in to Peekskill: the 37 homeowners over 10 years or the Hallocks Mill District, and who would pay for the cost of the diversion pipe. Depending on who paid these costs, the total cost to the 37 homeowners could be more or less than the $570 current Hallocks Mill tax.
Councilwoman Roker said all this information had to be made available to both the 37 homeowners, as well as all the Hallocks Mill homeowners; she said this should have been down last year when the switch was first proposed. Once this information is made available, and including both options, replace or divert, the town will have to let the public know. It was not clear exactly if a public hearing might be needed. There was a consensus though that time was of the essence and that the diversion option would take longer because it required the okay from the county. Supervisor Gilbert noted that Cortlandt Supervisor Puglisi told him she had no objection to 37 additional houses switching into Peekskill. Somers and Peekskill would also have to weigh in.
Town Board, 4-10-2018
The low bid to upgrade the three pump stations is $1,995,000 for the general contractor and $350,000 for the electrical work. However, the total cost will be reduced by about $500,000 if the Jefferson Park pump station is rerouted to the Peekskill system which would eliminate the need for the pump station.
The money for the project could come from the sewer district’s fund balance, currently at $5.5 M, or it could be bonded, or a combination of both. Councilwoman Roker cautioned that if the project was financed from the fund balance, funds might not be available to finance the upgrade of other pump stations in the sewer district. Mr. Quinn advised the board that there is state grant money for this type of project but that the town’s application last year was rejected. Both Mr. Quinn and the town’s bond counsel agreed that given the town’s demographics, it was not likely that the town would receive state money in future grant rounds. Bond counsel estimated that the going interest rate for a 30 year bond would be 4-4.25%.
Jefferson Park pump station: Regarding the Jefferson Park pump station, Mr. Quinn advised the board that the original resolution to switch the neighborhood to the Peekskill system that was approved by the board last year stated that 21 houses were involved while additional information indicates that the correct number is 37. The board will have to send an amended resolution to the county. He estimated that since the county has already started its review of the switchover request, the issue could be resolved in 3-4 months.
How the rerouting would be financed remains to be determined. The 37 homeowners would have to pay a $90,000 buy in to the Peekskill district over a 10 year period. It was also not clear if any money in the Hallocks Mill fund balance could be used to finance the project, and if so, how much. The town’s bond s counsel will look into this issue, along with projected costs of bonding and the amount of the lost revenue to the Hallocks Mill district once 37 properties are removed from the district. The switch would be subject to a permissive referendum although it was not clear if the referendum would only be for the 37 houses or the entire sewer district.
Sewer extension project
While the recently completed engineering study focused on 670 parcels in several neighborhoods, Supervisor Gilbert noted that given the current excess flow capacity in the treatment plant, there would only be capacity to have about 350 additional houses hook up. Councilwoman Roker said that the unsewered homes that potentially would be part of the project needed to be kept informed as early as possible about the planning. Financing for the project was not clear. Mr. Quinn added that the DEC is concerned about the need to address the aging pipes in the system and that he would be suggesting an aggressive infiltration and inflow plan.
Town Board, 9-26-2017
Developer Phil Sanders would like to develop two lots at the corner of Hickory Street and Granite Springs Road, both of which are in a wetland. In order to develop the site, he wants to connect the parcels to an existing sewer line in a public/private partnership where the town would supply the materials and he would install them. He does not want to wait until the town’s plans to bring sewers to Hickory materialize. The board appeared to have no problem with the concept, Supervisor Grace calling it a “no brainer” if someone else wanted to pay for the sewer line, but that more legal work had to be done. It was not clear from the discussion if other existing houses in the area would be able to tie into the line. Mr. Tegeder noted that if the amount of disturbance to the wetland exceeded one acre, the DEP would have to become involved.
The town authorized the submission of a grant application for the two Hallocks Mill pump stations under the NYS Water Infrastructure Improvement Act.
The board approved a $315,000 contract with GHD Consulting Engineers to begin design work on sewers for the three focus group neighborhoods, plus an evaluation of the Crystal Lake pump station. The funds will come from theYorktown Sewer District fund balance. The resolution included a provision that that the town “wishes to include in the extension project “the Ridge Street subarea, Broadview subarea and Carolina Road subarea, but it was not clear exactly what planning the consultants would do for these areas. In response to questions during Courtesy of the Flor, Supervisor Grace said that it was still undecided whether the plans for the 361 home Birch Street focus neighborhood would be to hook up to the Hallocks Mill treatment plant or be switched over to the Peekskill Sewer district; he said the “buy in” homeowners would have to pay to become part of the Peekskill district was not significant.
In response to a question about when the town would move forward on replacing two pump stations in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District, Supervisor Grace said the town was still fine tuning what areas would be included in the plan to sewer 450 homes, adding that he would reach out to different neighborhoods. He said that NYS had a new grant program that could potentially lower the cost to homeowners and that since the town has a plan, it was way ahead of other municipalities in the competitive grant process. He also said that the town was taking a look at moving some of the 361 properties in the Birch Street focus neighborhood into the Peekskill neighborhood and hooking them up to the Chelsea pump station. (Note: the supervisor never answered the question about the status of the pump station upgrades.)
Supervisor Grace said the next step was to hire an engineering consultant to begin developing the actual design plans to sewer the three priority areas. He said the town could solicit design proposals but the job would like go to GHD, the firm that has done work on the sewer district in the past. In response to a question, the supervisor said the board didn’t need to approval of 51% of the property owners slated to be sewered because they were already part of an established district. He added, though, that he’d walk the neighborhoods.
The supervisor also said he was looking into whether Birch Street (or some of the streets in the Birch Street neighborhood; it wasn’t clear) could be switched to the Peekskill sewer district and tied into the Chelsea pump station. He said this would provide additional capacity for other Hallocks Mill unsewered streets. A resolution to seek engineering proposals may be on the board’s next meeting agenda.
Supervisor Grace explained the “broad strokes” of his plan to construct sewer laterals for approximately 450 existing homes, including the Sparkle Lake neighborhood, Sunrise Street, and 351 homes in the “Birch St” area that encompasses several streets. He estimated that out of 1,024 unsewered parcels in the sewer district, it was feasible to sewer only about 700 and that the remaining 250 unsewered would have to wait until the town gets a variance from the DEP that would pave the way for the town to get a permit from DEC to treat more sewage at the treatment plant on Greenwood St. (The plant can physically treat 2.5 million gallons per day (mgd) of sewage, but the current SPDES operating permit is capped at 1.5 mgd.)
The Supervisor acknowledged that with a total of 26 unsewered subareas, only some can be sewered at the current time and that there’ll be winner and losers. He said he hopes to meet with the different neighborhood to learn how interested they are in being sewered. The result could be deleting some streets and adding others to the list of 450 homeowners to be sewered.
To make the cost of constructing the sewer lines more affordable for the 450 homes, the supervisor explained that he plans to spread the cost of the roughly $19 million project over the entire sewer district that includes 4,000 already sewered property owners. (Only $9 million would have to be bonded as $10 million will come from money set aside for Yorktown in a special East of Hudson fund.) The supervisor said that the $19 M cost figure includes a 30% contingency which he anticipated would be less once final plans were developed.
The capital cost differential would be $1,167 each for the 450 homeowners versus $111 if the cost was spread over the 4,450 homeowners. In addition to the capital cost, there is an annual operation and maintenance tax that is $577 in 2017. Also, properties connected to the sewer plant pay a surcharge on their water bill ($1.20/1,000 gallons); he added that this rate hadn’t been increase since 1996 and he would be looking into whether this should be raised.
The supervisor anticipated that once 450 properties were hooked up to the treatment plant, the operation and maintenance tax would decrease by about $50 so that the net increase to already sewered taxpayers would be $61/year.
The supervisor’s justification for charging the already sewered for the cost of sewering the 450 homes was one of equity. Using two side by side maps, he said that while the unsewered property owners paid for the 1970 expansion of the treatment plant, they were never allowed to hook up to the plant. But, over the same period of time, many properties that hadn’t paid for the sewer plant expansion were able to hook up. When a homeowner asked whether an unsewered property would have to pay for the sewers for the 450, the supervisor’s answer was, “there are a lot of moving parts” to the issue.
In a related issue, the supervisor said he was abandoning an earlier plan to reroute the sewage currently being treated at the Chelsea pump station that’s in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District to Yorktown treatment plant. He said he didn’t want to take up any of the remaining capacity at the Yorktown plant while there were more unsewered homeowners
In an item not on the agenda, the board discussed changes in the existing sewer permit policy. As currently written, once a sewer permit is issued, it never expires, even if the permit is never used. (The permit is to allow hook up to the town’s sewer system.) Mr. Quinn said the town has open permits dating back to the 1960s. One of the problems with open permits is that town has no way of knowing how many potential hook ups there might be the town’s treatment plant that has a fixed capacity. Under the proposed new law, permits will only be good for one year. (Note; it actually wasn’t clear from the discussion whether the new policy is already in effect or whether an exiting law has to be amended.) Councilman Lachterman suggested that while a one year period might be sufficient for a single single family house, it might create problems for a subdivision where the project might not be completed for more than a year but the developer would need to be assured access to the plant.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, again asked the town to provide the legal basis for charging 4,000 sewered taxpayers for $18 million worth of sewer improvements that would not benefit them. There was no response from the board or the town attorney. Councilman Bernard said that the issue would be discussed at the May 2nd board meeting.
Mr. Quinn advised the board that he has made some minor modifications to the bid specs that were advertised last year and suggested that for $16,000, the consulting engineer could prepare a new set of bid specs, adding that if the town wanted to get the project done in 2017, it had to begin soon. The bids on the previous specs that were advertised last September came in at $1.9 million but the board never awarded a bid.
Supervisor Grace said rather than proceed with a bid for just the two pump stations, he preferred to wait until the town had a financial plan and timetable for how it was going to deal with 11 pump stations. He said that the town had made representations to the DEC that it would rehabilitate its pumps stations in exchange for the DEC renewing the sewage treatment plant’s SPEDES operating permit. The only other plant that the supervisor specifically mentioned by name was the Chelsea pump station on Farm Walk Road that has a history of problems and that the DEC wants replaced.
A reference was made to a May 2nd meeting dealing with sewer issues with the supervisor indicating that by that time the town should have a budget in place that would cover everyting.
A reference was made to a May 2nd meeting dealing with sewer issues with the supervisor indicating that by that time the town should have a budget in place that would cover everyting.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked the supervisor and town attorney for a response to her February letter that asked for clarification of whether the 4,000 already sewered taxpayers in the Hallocks Mill sewer district could be charged to sewer improvements that did not provide them with any benefits. In his response, the supervisor talked about other sewer issues but did not address Ms. Siegel’s question. He said that letters would be going out soon to the 450 unsewered homeowners and that the letter would be followed with an informational meeting.
In response to questions from Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, the supervisor elaborated on his plans to extend sewers to 450 unserwered houses in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District, and replace three pump stations, one of which is currently in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.
The supervisor explained that he plans to finance the projects, estimated to cost about $20 million and to be constructed over time, with $10 million available from the East of Hudson funds and $10 million from borrowing. The bond issue would be paid for by ALL taxpayers in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District -- those already sewered (about 4,000), the newly sewered (450) and the 80-100 properties currently serviced by the Chelsea pump station that would be rerouted to the Hallocks Mill District from the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.
The supervisor explained that by making one large district of about 4,500 homes, the cost of all the projects would be about $30 per parcel and that combining the different districts would be the only way the individual projects would be affordable for some homeowners.
The supervisor said that he was still working out the details of how the projects would be financed. Ms. Siegel asked that the affected homeowners be kept informed during the preliminary planning, especially the homeowners who would be switched from the Peekskill district into the Hallocks Mill District because this could increase their sewer costs.
The supervisor said that letters would be going out to homeowners in three unsewered Hallocks Mill neighborhoods to determine their interest in being sewered.
Supervisor Grace reported on a meeting with the DEC regarding Hallocks Mill sewers. He said the agency was very supportive of the town’s efforts to move forward on plans to create new sewer districts for 450 unsewered house, replace two Hallocks Mill pump stations and reroute the Chelsea pump station, currently part of the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District to the Hallocks Mill district. He said the projects would cost about $20 million and hoped that bid specs could be ready by the end of the year with construction in 2018. Regarding the sewer extensions, he added that he was exploring the possibility of providing subsidies to the unsewered homoeowners as an incentive to hook up to sewers. He estimated that the cost of the subsidizing could add about 5% to the total cost of project but that in the long run the additional cost was worth it. He didn’t say where the funds would come from. He said that homeowners would be receiving a letter in the coming week asking them to let the town know if they were interested in being sewered. While he acknowledged that the first question homeowners were likely to have was “how much would sewers cost,” he said that the letter will not include any cost estimates because that information was difficult to calculate, adding that he anticipated that the cost would be nominal or minimal. He added that how these projects would be financed, especially in light of the tax cap, remained the major issue that needed to be worked out. On the pending bid awards for the two pump station replacements, Supervisor Grace said that the town might rebid the projects or ask the bidders to extend their bids.
Supervisor Grace reported on a meeting with the DEC regarding Hallocks Mill sewers. He said the agency was very supportive of the town’s efforts to move forward on plans to create new sewer districts for 450 unsewered house, replace two Hallocks Mill pump stations and reroute the Chelsea pump station, currently part of the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District to the Hallocks Mill district. He said the projects would cost about $20 million and hoped that bid specs could be ready by the end of the year with construction in 2018.
Regarding the sewer extensions, he added that he was exploring the possibility of providing subsidies to the unsewered homoeowners as an incentive to hook up to sewers. He estimated that the cost of the subsidizing could add about 5% to the total cost of project but that in the long run the additional cost was worth it. He didn’t say where the funds would come from. He said that homeowners would be receiving a letter in the coming week asking them to let the town know if they were interested in being sewered. While he acknowledged that the first question homeowners were likely to have was “how much would sewers cost,” he said that the letter will not include any cost estimates because that information was difficult to calculate, adding that he anticipated that the cost would be nominal or minimal.
He added that how these projects would be financed, especially in light of the tax cap, remained the major issue that needed to be worked out.
On the pending bid awards for the two pump station replacements, Supervisor Grace said that the town might rebid the projects or ask the bidders to extend their bids.
Town Board, 12-19-2017
The board voted to advertise for bids for the revised specs for the Jefferson Valley, Jefferson Park and Walden Woods pump stations.
Walden Woods and Jefferson Valley: Mr. Quinn advised the board that because the DEC permit for these upgrades expires at the end of 2018, the board should proceed now with the projects. (See below about previous bid history.) The board voted to hire GHD to make some changes in the previous bid specs.
Jefferson Park: The board passed a resolution asking the county to start the process for transferring the 26 homes serviced by the pump station to the Peekskill Sewer District. However, Mr. Grace said that the properties would be kept in the Hallocks Mill district after the transfer was made. (Note: the resolution may also have authorized GHD to prepare bid specs for the retouring of the sewage.)
Town Board, 1-3-2017
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, repeated the question she asked at the previous meeting about the status of the bids to replace two pump stations. She said the sewer district fund balance had $6.2 million, more than enough to cover the full cost of the $2 million project and not create problems with the tax levy/tax cap. She also asked for clarification on the “global approach” to the sewer problem that Supervisor Grace had talked about at the previous meeting, noting that the pump station project had nothing to do with creating a new sewer district for 450 unsewered houses as the projects would be paid for by different taxpayers.
In response, Supervisor Grace repeated that he was planning a global approach to the different sewer issues, adding that the plan would include all pump stations in the Croton Watershed, including the Chelsea pump station that is currently in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District, and that the available $10 million in East of Hudson funds could be used for all the projects. He said the board might ask the bidders to extend their bids, or just use the bids that were received as guidelines for what the project might cost. In the meantime, he said the board is gathering data and seeking legal opinion from bond counsel. He anticipated a decision within the next month or so.
Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked about the status of the bids to replace two pump stations. In response, Supervisor Grace said that the board was taking a “global approach” to sewer district issues that included both the pump station replacement project and sewer extensions to currently unsewered neighborhoods. He did not explain further.
Town Engineer Quinn said he needed more time to review the bids. Discussions will also be needed with the comptroller and the town’s bond counsel to review how to finance the project. (Note: The CIY observer did not hear any cost figures mentioned.)
The bid specs for the two pump station projects totals 750 pages. Although the town had listed the bids on the Empire State Bid system and interested contractors can download the documents, the town needs to have hard copies in town hall. GHD, the sewer consultant will prepare a copy at $100 a piece. For starters the board authorized having GHD produced 10 sets.
The board voted to advertise for bids for the upgrades of the Walden Woods and Jefferson Valley pump stations.
Town Board, 7-12-2016
Town Board, 7-12-2016
The board passed a resolution to pay GHD Consulting Services up to $14,000, based on an hourly rate, to do a survey and a feasibility study of rerouting the homes in the Jefferson Park area from the Hallocks Mill Sewer district to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. The move was in response to the objection two area homeowners had to the town’s earlier plan to construct a new Jefferson Park pump station. Town Engineer Quinn estimated that the cost of rerouting the existing Hallocks Mill pump station to the Peekskill pump station at Route 6 and Curry St. would cost an estimated $200,000. Supervisor Grace explained that after the Hallocks Mill District paid the estimated $55,000-$60,000 “buy in” the county charges for properties coming into the Peekskill district (when Councilman Bernard asked if the Hallocks Mill district could pay the buy in, the supervisor said it could) and after different operation and maintenance costs for the two districts were figured in, the Hallocks Mill district would save about $500,000 because it wouldn’t have to rebuild the existing Jefferson Park pump station. The supervisor added that eliminating the Jefferson Park homes would free up capacity in the sewage treatment plant.
As part of the discussion of sewer extensions (see below), Supervisor Grace said the town was exploring the possibility that it could eliminate the need for a new Jefferson Park pump station if the county would approve transferring the 26 homes from the Hallocks Mill Sewer District to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District and reroute the collection system to an existing pump station at Route 6 and Curry Street. While there would be costs associated with the switch (they were not identified), they would offset the $700,000 cost of building the new pump station.
Town Board 6-7-2016
A representative of GHD, the consulting engineering firm hired to design the rehabilitation of three aging pump stations, Jefferson Park, Walden Woods, and Jefferson Valley, made a presentation on the plans that are almost, but not 100% complete project.
The project will be paid for by taxpayers in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District (aka Yorktown Sewer District) with a combination of cash of borrowing. In response to a question as to what the estimated cost of the project will be, Town Engineer Michael Quinn said he didn’t want to publicly discuss costs as doing so might impact the bids.
The Department of Health is currently reviewing the plans. Once that review and the SEQRA review is completed, the town will advertise for bids.
For the two smaller pump stations, Jefferson Park that services 26 houses, and Walden Woods that services 120 houses, the existing buildings housing the pump station will be demolished and new ones erected. The buildings will have vinyl siding and shingle roofs and the supervisor said that neighborhood residents could have input on the colors. The plans include new pumps, electrical and HVAC systems, emergency generators and other upgrades. Two residents living next to and across the street from the Jefferson Park pump station had issues with the size of the new building and objected to the proposed fence that was being planned as a security measure. Supervisor Grace said that the fence would be eliminated and the new building surrounded only by shrubs. He doubted, however, the feasibility of the residents’ suggestion that the pump station could be eliminated by rerouting the collection system. But, Supervisor Grace said he was willing to meet with the residents on site to review their idea.
The rehabilitation of the Jefferson Valley station that services 630 houses will make interior changes to the existing building, plus exterior changes.
Town Board 11-12-2015 (budget review meeting)
The town expects a report by the end of November on the cost of replacing three YS pump stations. Preliminary estimates are $3-$4 million for the three facilities. All three will be done at the same time. After staff and then the town board reviews the plans, the town can go out to bid and construction can begin in mid 2016, with an anticipated one year completion date. While I suggested that the YS $5.6 million fund balance (as of 12/31/14) could pay for a good part of the project, Supervisor Grace indicated his intention to bond the project with some money coming from fund balance.
The department will be asking to shift unused money in its 2015 budget to purchase two new vehicles. The board was generally agreeable and the resolution is expected to be on next week’s agenda.
Town Board, 9-27-2016
In an item not on the agenda, the board approved a resolution (the text of which was not written) to spend $15,000 for GHD, the town’s sewer consultant, to lobby the DEP for more money for sewers for the unsewered homeowners. The town wants the DEP to give Yorktown some of the East of Hudson money that has been earmarked for other northern Westchester towns in the belief that the money would be better spent in Yorktown. (In the mid 2000s, $10 million was earmarked for 5 towns. One town has used its money and two more have projects pending. The release of the money has to be approved by the other northern Westchester towns, the county legislature and the DEP.) Supervisor Grace said that if the DEP makes more money available to supplement Yorktown’s $10 million share, the town would be able to provide sewers at no cost of about 450 residents. The town was expected to meet with a representative of the DEP tomorrow.
Town Board 6-21-2016
In response to comments and questions from residents from Sunrise Street and Elizabeth Road on the status of extending sewers to their neighborhoods, Supervisor Grace provided an update on the sewer situation, advising residents that “we’re getting there.” (See June 7, 2016 discussion below.) He advised the residents that based on his recent trip to Albany no money would be available from the state and that state officials advised him to look to NYC for additional funds. Depending on whether additional funds could be found, he said the town was looking at both a “no cost” and a “low cost” option which he said could be in the neighborhood of $1,500/year (annual operation and maintenance plus the bonding cost for the construction of the sewer laterals) to sewer 300-500 houses.
In response to the residents’ comments about the need to begin discussin how to allocate the $10 million of East Hudson to help defray the cost, the supervisor said it wasn’t necessarily true that the town would be getting $10 million from the fund (he called the $10 million figure “folklore” and a “legend”) and that discussions were in progress with other northern Westchester supervisors about how to divvy up the remaining money the county is holding in the East of Hudson fund.
When Supervisor Grace said that the town would prioritize “hot spot” neighborhoods for inclusion in a single non contiguous sewer district, residents of Elizabeth Road asked that they be considered.
The supervisor did not respond to the request from the Sunrise residents that a letter be sent to all unsewered homeowners to update information on their interest in being sewered.
Supervisor Grace explained that under the terms of the town’s current DEC issued SPEDES permit for the sewage treatment plant, if flows to the plant do not exceed 1.5 million gallons per day (mgd) based on a 12 month average beginning November, 2015, it should be possible to create new sewer districts for some of the unsewered neighborhoods. He estimated that there might be about 500 parcels that could be sewered. With current flows averaging 1.2 mgd, he said that would allow for additional flows of 300,000-400,000 mdg that could accommodate the additional homes.
The supervisor said he would be traveling to Albany next week with other northern Westchester supervisors to explore possible state funds for sewer projects that would supplement the $10 million already available to Yorktown for watershed projects. A report concerning Hallocks Mills sewers has been prepared, but the supervisor did not elaborate on the contents. “We’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said, advising residents to “stay tuned.”
In response to the board’s earlier vote authorizing an additional $65,000 to GHD Consulting Services for work associated with the design and construction of new pump stations, Susan Siegel, the person writing this summary, asked when the bid documents would be ready for advertising. In response, Supervisor Grace said that would be somet hing the new town engineer would be working on.
Town Board, 11-17-2015
SPDES permit for Yorktown Sewage Treatment Plant. I reported that the town has received its new permit but that the rolling average used to calculate the flow’s 1.5 million mgd limit will be based on data from November 1, 2015 through October 31, 2016 and that DEC will not permit any sewer district extensions into currently unsewered neighborhoods until the one year period has elapsed. I suggested to the board that it use the 12 month period to begin planning the extensions for the streets where homeowners are interested in begin sewered and that as a first step the board start discussions on the allocation of the East of Hudson funds so that homeowners have some idea as to what sewers will cost them. There was no comment from the other board members.
Yorktown Plant SPDES permit: Although not directly related to the budget, there was a brief discussion of the plant’s new SPDES permit. While the permit acknowledges that the plant can treat 2.5 mgd and may eventually get a permit to treat that amount, the new permit allows a 1.5 mgd rolling average. And, to the surprise of the town which thought that DEC would use past monthly averages, the permit starts a “new” count for monthly averages as of November 1, 2015 – meaning that we won’t have a rolling average for another 12 months that would open the door for sewer extensions to new neighborhoods.
Eileen Burke, an unsewered resident on Sunrise Street, advised the board that her neighbors were interested in being sewered but needed to know what the cost would be. She asked about how the East of Hudson (EOH) money would be allocated. In response, Supervisor Grace said it was premature to discuss the EOH issue, a position I disagreed with, stating that I felt the EOH discussion should and could start now.
Supervisor Grace announced that the NYSDEC has issued a draft interim new SPDES permit for the town’s sewage treatment plant. The permit will allow the town to create sewer extensions for currently unsewered streets in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District. The interim permit keeps the existing 1.5 million gallons per day (mgd) flow limit, but calculates the flow based on a rolling average that uses the previous 12 months as opposed to looking at flow levels for each month. The town will continue working towards a final permit with a cap of 2.5 mgd.
As a follow up the supervisor’s announcement, I asked that a committee be set up next week to begin discussions on how the $10 million in East of Hudson funds that was set aside over a dozen years ago to help offset the cost of sewer laterals should/could be allocated to those Hallocks Mill homeowners who want to be sewered.
For residents currently in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer district who are unsewered, both the supervisor and I explained that there would have to be support from at least 51% of the interested homeowners in order to create a sewer district. The project cost would also have to take into consideration the assessed value of homes to be included in the project.
I also pointed out that there are about 300 existing homeowners in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District who are paying about $200 a year in sewer taxes with little likelihood that they will be sewered because of the potential cost. I suggested the homeowners and the town might want to consider being taken out of the district as a way to reduce their taxes.
In what became a very heated and politicized discussion, Supervisor Grace said he was opposed to sending the informational letter I had drafted to the approximately 200 homeowners who may be able to obtain sewer permits for a hook up to the town’s sewage treatment plant. (The letter was a follow up to comments I had made at the August 4th meeting.) The supervisor saw no need to send the letter and felt it could jeopardize the ongoing negotiations with the DEC on the new SPDES permit. He expressed concern that too many homeowners might want permits.
My position was that it was unfair that only certain people knew about the availability of the permits and every eligible property owner should have the information; I noted that not every homeowner reads the local newspaper or watches board meetings. When it became clear that a majority of the board was opposed to the letter being sent, I said I would likely send the letter out on my own given my past involvement with the sewer issue. Councilman Bernard then accused me of politicizing the issue and Supervisor Grace took exception to what he considered to be an inference that I was accusing him of favoritism.
I suggested that the supervisor send a letter to the approximately 200 unsewered homeowners in the Hallocks Mill Sewer district who may now be able to hook up to the sewer system. I explained that even if a homeowner didn’t want to hook up to the sewer system now, if they got a sewer permit now, the permit would remain valid for use at a future date if and when they wanted to hook up.
Gary Ajello, an unsewered homeowner on Brookside Avenue, wanted to know when he might expect to hook up to the sewage treatment plant. In response, Supervisor Grace explained that the town was still waiting for the DEC to schedule a public hearing on the town’s SPDES permit; the two critical permit provisions being whether the town will be allowed to report flows to the plant on a yearly “rolling average” as opposed to monthly averages, and the plant’s permitted flow level (The expired permit was for 1.5 mgd, but the upgraded plant was designed to handle 2.5 mgd.) Acting Town Engineer Robinson said the town was expecting the hearing “during the summer” but did not have any more specific information. The town anticipates that based on the new permit, it will be able to create additional neighborhood sewer districts for the unsewered portions of the greater Hallocks Mill District.
I added that a critical part of any discussion about creating new sewer districts will be the issue of cost and that will be determined by how the town decides to allocate the $10 million of East of Hudson funds and how many homeowners want to be sewered. It was left open whether that discussion should begin now or wait until the DEC issues the new SPDES permit.
Supervisor Grace announced that the DEP has lifted the moratorium on sewer hook-ups to the Yorktown plant and that 1 or 2 sewer permits have been issued. He said he expected the DEC to approve a new SPEDES permit for 2.5 mgd in the next month or so. In response to the good news, I suggested that the town should now begin to discuss how to allocate the $10 million in East of Hudson funds that was earmarked many years ago to help defray the cost of new sewer laterals. I noted that homeowners on septic systems need to know the estimated cost of hooking up before they commit to wanting sewers.
(Additional information. The lifting of the DEP moratorium is based on the town not having a “flow violation” going forward. To date, there’s nothing in writing about the renewed DEC SPEDES permit, but the town is cautiously optimistic, based on meetings with DEC, that at least one neighborhood could be sewered. Plans for other neighborhoods will depend on the actual language of new permit.)
As a follow up to its earlier discussion, the board voted to authorize a $465,300 contract with GHD, Inc. to design the upgrade for three pump stations.
Pump Station RFP. After reviewing three proposals for the design and rehabilitation of three aging pump stations, the board agreed to select the firm of GHD at a cost, for design, preparation of bid specs and construction inspection services of approximately $385,000-$773,000; the final cost will depend on the length of the construction program. The funds for the project will come from the Yorktown Sewer District fund balance. The design phase will take about one year. Acting Town Engineer Robinson estimated that the construction costs could range from $2-$3 million with better estimates known only once the design phase is completed. There was no discussion on how the actual construction costs would be funded. A resolution awarding the contract will be prepared. The pump stations are over 40 years old.
Moving forward on the pump station upgrades was delayed for several years when Supervisor Grace decided to pursue a partial diversion strategy which ultimately proved unsuccessful.
Sewage Treatment Plant/SPDES permit. Supervisor Grace explained that moving ahead on the pump station upgrades will help the DEP look more favorably on the town’s efforts to allow more hook-ups to the plant. He said that the DEC, which issues the SPDES permit, was leaning towards a using a more flexible “rolling average” calculation to determine actual flows to the plant. This would be helpful, because the flows are often less than the permitted 1.5 million gallons per day but can exceed 1.5 mgd during heavy rain events. DEP, however, has to issue a variance before any additional hook-ups are allowed. He said that once permission was granted, he anticipated that hook-ups would be done gradually over a long period of time.
In response to my question, the supervisor assured the board that the $10 million of East of Hudson money set aside for Yorktown sewer connections was still available.
Sewer request for East Main Street, Jefferson Valley property
The owner of 250 East Main Street requested the Board to forward a request to the county for his property to be included in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. Supervisor Grace said he would speak to the town engineer to see if other nearby property owners were willing to join in to create a larger sewer district.
Shortly after an unsewered resident from Sunrise Street began her comments about her 14 year wait for sewers, Supervisor Grace interrupted her to state that he had met that day with a representative of the DEC and was encouraged that the state agency appeared willing to consider new flow parameters for the plant as part of the town’s permit renewal process later this year.
He then proceeded to talk about the “significant progress” that had been made in his talks with neighboring towns regarding his plan to divert 650 currently sewered taxpayers in the town-owned Hallocks Mill sewer district to the county operated Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District. He added, though, that the diversion would result in a 16% drop in the value of the Hallocks Mill district and that this would mean that the remaining Hallocks Mill taxpayers would see a tax increase. That increase would, however, be lessened over 5-15 years as currently unsewered homeowners were able to connect to the system. He added that because of the sensitive nature of the talks with the other municipalities, he couldn’t discuss the details of the plan. “Trust me on this,” he said.
In an item not on the agenda, the Board voted 5-0 to authorize the supervisor to sign a contract with local engineer Dan Ciarcia for up to $15,000 to do a study dealing with certain aspects of the Yorktown Heights sewage treatment plant and also the possible diversion of a portion of the flow into the Yorktown plant to the Peekskill plant. The study would look at cost per gallon for flows and also some of the critical Hallocks Mill areas in need of sewers. The money would come from the Yorktown Heights Sewer District budget, but Councilman Bianco asked if any of the DEP money
Supervisor Grace explained that he has had meetings with the supervisors of Cortlandt and Somers, the mayor of Peekskill and county officials about diverting some of the flow currently going to the Yorktown plant to Peekskill in order to open up capacity at the Yorktown plant for new hook-ups. He also said that he has had meetings with the DEC and DEP and that they were open minded about taking a second look at extensions into the Yorktown plant.He is also considering re-routing the Mohansic pump station that is in need of rehabilitation, to Peekskill instead of Yorktown.
During Courtesy of the Floor, Susan Siegel (the person writing this summary) suggested that the Town seek proposals from other vendors who might be interested in doing the study, including the engineering firm that has worked on previous studies for the Yorktown plant.
Town Board, 10-23-2012
The owner of a 138 acre undeveloped parcel, split between one acre and four acre zoning, requested that the Town petition the county to have the parcel included in the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District.The parcel has a potential for 55-65 homes.Currently there is one main house and 19 apartments on the site, all on septic.
One of the issues, that dates back to discussions the property owner had with the county in 1985, is what the “buy-in” cost to the property owner would be: would it be based on vacant land, or the value of any future homes that would be built on the property. According to Larry Praga, the attorney for the property owner, based on the earlier discussions, the county has agreed that the initial buy in would be based on vacant land but that the buy in would be reallocated once homes were built.
The Board voted unanimously to send the petition to the county.
Supervisor Grace said he was having discussions with the other municipalities that make up the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District regarding how to reallocate the remaining 3.5 million gallons per day capacity in the plant.
County Legislator Kaplowitz gave Board members a copy of draft legislation proposed by County Legislator Testa that would require any municipality seeking to add a parcel or development to a county sewer district to notify all adjacent municipalities as well as any municipality where there is county sewer district infrastructure. He also suggested that the Town survey the remaining unsewered homeowners in the Hallocks Mill sewer district to determine who needs and/or wants to be seweredso that the Town could get a better handle on how to use the $10million in East of Hudson funds the county is holding for the Town for sewers.Supervisor Grace said he was pursuing a plan to divert some of the Hallocks Mill sewage to Peekskill in order to open up capacity at the Town’s Greenwood Street sewer plant for new commercial rateables.
Hallocks Mill Sewers: As part of a his comments on changes in the approval authority for the OB zone, Supervisor Grace mentioned the possibility that the existing Mohansic Pump Station which is part of the Hallocks Mill Sewer District be rerouted to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer system and that this could possibly enable areas like Sunrise Street to be connected to the Yorktown plant.
Hallocks Mill Pump Stations
(note: this observer participated in the discussion.)
Acting Town Engineer Sharon Robinson explained that as far back as 2007, the need to upgrade several pump stations had been identified and that the Jefferson Valley and Walden Woods pump stations were among the top priority projects. However, before the Town can proceed with any upgrade plans, a decision needs to be made whether the pump stations will continue to flow to the Hallocks Mill plant on Greenwood Street or be divered to the Peekskill sewage treatment plant as part of a partial diversion plan proposed by Supervisor Grace. Under the partial diversion plan, if flows from those pump stations were diverted to the Peekskill Sanitary Sewer District, flows to the Hallocks Mill plant would be reduced by an average of 200,0000 mg (gallons per day) during dry days or one million mgd during rain events and this would free up capacity in the town’s treatment plant for currently unsewered parcels. The Peekskill plant has a 10mdgt capacity and is currently operating, on dry days at about 7 million mgd.
Whether diversion is doable, she said, depends on whether there was a political will to move forward on the idea. Supervisor Grace said that he had had a conversation with Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi and that she was very receptive to the idea and might be willing to abandon some of the future capacity being reserved for Cortlandt.Also on the table was giving Cortlandt temporary access to Yorktown’s sewer system along Route 6. He said that a meeting was being set up with county and Cortlandt officials to discuss future allocations to the plant as well as Route 202 issues.
As for money , he acknowledged that either rebuilding the pump stations, or rebuilding and redirecting them to Peekskill would be a town expense but he said the town could tap into the $10 million in East of Hudson (EOH) money that was set aside several years ago for Yorktown to pay for other major infrastructure work needed to make diversion feasible.
Susan Siegel, a long time spokesperson for the unsewered Hallocks Mill homeowners posed a series of questions to the board that she said had to be part of any partial diversion plan. These included what the cost implications would be to the approximately 600-700 homeowners whose sewage would be diverted to Peekskill as well as the remaining homeowners in the Hallocks Mill district.She also questioned whether Peekskill and Cortlandt were ready to give up capacity in the Peekskill plant to Yorktown and cautioned that it could take 1-2 years to before any decision was made on diversion. In the meantime, she said, the town couldn’t proceed with the pump station upgrades because that work would depend on which plant received the flow.She also cautioned that if the $10 million EOH funds were used for infrastructure instead of their planned use to offset the cost of constructing the lateral sewer lines, the cost of sewers would escalate and more homeowners would opt out of wanting sewers.
In response, Supervisor Grace said that it was time for Yorktown to think boldly and use its political muscle to make this happen. He said that the DEP variance regulations could never be attained. Without going into detail, he suggested that the Jefferson Valley and Walden Woods homeowners would stay in the Hallocks Mill district and that the town would contract the flow to Peekskill. Also, that opening up capacity at the Greenwood Street plant would allow more commercial rateables into the Hallocks Mill district, which would help lower the cost for homeowners.
In addition to the issue of reducing future flow volumes into the Yorktown plant, Ms. Robinson said the town also has to address the fact that some of the existing sewer trunk lines mayhave to be upgraded in order to handle any additional flows.
Both Ms. Robinson and Supervisor Grace ruled out the value of doing any further studies to identify how the inflow and infiltration of stormwaterinto the sewer interceptor lines during rain events could be reduced.