Tuesday, April 24, 2007

THE NEXT STEPS: SOLVING E HARTSDALE AVE FLOODING LONG TERM

Al Regula, Commissioner of Public Works, has presented the Town Board with a report detailing long term solutions to the extensive damage and flood related problems along East Hartsdale Ave.
There is a stream located behind and under the properties on the west side of the avenue. The stream serves to provide storm water drainage for the adjacent properties, as well as upstream areas. As is the case with many other problematic watercourses in the town, this stream is located almost exclusively on private properties and does not have any easement on the part of the town. It is highly likely that floating debris, generated by stormflows, once again contributed to the most recent drainage backup.
The town has the ability to create a drainage district for the watershed area tributary to this drainage system. The formation of such a district has been accomplished in the past. District formation would allow the cost for any engineering and analysis, as well as the cost for any improvements of the subject drainage system, to be borne by the district and funded by member property owners. The creation of such a drainage district would require legislative action by both the town as well as the approval of the state.
The commissioner has prepared a draft RFP for professional services for watershed analysis and engineering studies. These tasks would be initially required to determine what improvements, if any, are feasible for the drainage facilities located in the E Hartdale Ave area.
I believe this must be given the highest priority attention. We can't afford another major flood.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, the town of Greenburgh has more to offer than just this.

Creating a drainage "district" to solve the problems behind the stores on the south side of East Hartsdale Avenue is another way of saying, you want municipal flood relief Hartsdale, pay for it yourself!

"Districts" are separate tax collecting entities. What Feiner doesn't seem to recognize is that solving drainage problems is a municipal problem that must be solved by the municipal government.

His idea of creating a new layer of government to make sure that only some parts of the town have to pay for the problem while others would be legally excused -- ignores the fact that the stores on East Hartsdale Avenue benefit the entire town -- and their destruction hurts the entire town.

For example, it may seem minor, but every dollar the town collects in parking tickets from customers using the Hartsdale Parking garage behind the stores that were flooded benefits the entire town, including the villages.

Sales taxes also benefit the entire town.

Before the town spends money on some grandiose plan to redesign the drainage system along East Hartsdale Avenue -- wouldn't it make sense to hire an independent engineering firm to investigate what caused the floods, whether cleaning the drains were cleaned, and if not, whether it would have made a difference if they were.

Anonymous said...

Paul have Regula's men clean out all the storm sewers,arround the town .Instead of having a full crew doing nothing let them put two days a week in doing this job.The storm sewers have not been cleaned in a long long time.This will be a good start.

Anonymous said...

The Supervisor is providing real leadership to the community. He is showing the merchants that he cares and is helping them stay in business.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is deluding himself when he writes that the merchants on East Hartsdale Avenue think he "cares" and is "helping them stay in business."

They know his "support" for them is tissue-thin, that he'll disappear the moment the cameras stop rolling, and that to them, he's just a photo-op.

So profoundly disappointed were they in Feiner that two years ago most put pictures of Bill Greenawalt in their windows. Not one storeowner on the street allowed Feiner's picture to be displayed because they didn't like him and their customers didn't like him either.

Nothing has changed.

Anonymous said...

Oh please, not another district. There's no need for another layer of bureaucracy. I wish Greenburgh would just become a normal city. In the meantime, clean the drainage system, and build it into the DPW budget for future years.

Jim Lasser said...

The Supervisor used to be a leader - now all he wants is to be re-elected. Creating another "independent" taxing authority is simply his way of avoiding responsibility. Focusing the tax burden on the presumed immediate beneficiaries means he won't have to raise taxes for everyone in town. The strategy is wrong. We will all benefit from a vibrant downtown Hartsdale. The point of having a political subdivision called a town is to be able to undertake governance issues and quality of life projects that are too complicated and/or expensive for a small taxbase. The cost of doing the job correctly will have a much smaller effect on everyone's tax bills if the base is broader. Restricting the base to the immediate area will significantly impact local residents and businesses. The businesses will either fold under the additional financial burden or need to receive propterty tax reductions to stay afloat. Those tax reductions will be financed by the rest of us anyhow - so why not be OPEN about it and apportion the taxes over the whole town now, rather than letting it happen through "property tax relief"? The reason why not is purely political - The Supervisor can look good by not raising everyone's taxes now, and he can look good again (and help his campaign finances) when he "fights" for reduced assessments for the business in the drainage district. He must figure the residents are too stupid to notice the increases they will bear...
Why not play this one straight? Why won't the Supervisor and the Town Board tell us what it will cost EVERYONE and then have the courage to follow through with a real solution?

Anonymous said...

Jim Lasser...do you have anything nice to say about the supervisor.Keep your Edgemont mouth shut.If you are running for office say so, maybe this is your way of campaigning. Just remember what goes arround comes arround.

Jim Lasser said...

At least I sign my opinions. Get a life and take responsibility.

Anonymous said...

JIm,

I agree with you. I also want soemone to take a lead on the parking/traffic issues. We need a plan.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous (9:14) and Jim:

You are both right and both wrong, say I humbly.

First to anonymous: Mr. Lasser is not running for office. Whether his mouth is open or shut when he is at his keyboard is irrelevant. And, you are correct that Jim seldom has anything nice to say about the Supervisor but that is as equally true about Feiner describing Lasser. We -- Jim, Paul, myself and you are entitled to voice your opinions. It is to the Supervisor's credit that he provides this forum for everyone's use and enjoyment.

However, Mr. Lasser is not right either. And, I'm not so quickly buying into the Regula conclusion of the source of the flooding or that the Town was "powerless" to prevent flooding. For now, let me just consider the proposal of a "drainage" district and what it seems to imply.

Most of Greenburgh's recent history has been entangled in the still unresolved issues between the Unincorporated section of Town and the Villages, the A and the B budgets. Now we have the possibility of even greater fragmentation facing us regarding "Districts" within either or both sections. This is not the coverage of School or Sewer or Water Districts but of a narrowed geographic area. Hence "Drainage: or "Sidewalk" Districts. What's next, designated "Crosswalk Disticts"?

Now where I differ with Jim is regarding who pays. Districts traditionally collect money only from property owners owning within the District borders (not all Town rsidents) and under this proposal it would only be the owner(s) of the commercial buildings and the owners of the residential buildings, be they co-operative or rental.

The costs of Districts therefore would not be underwritten by the residents of the entire Town; instead levied against the included property owners while probably following the formulas of the above mentioned and existing Districts.

In turn, these owners would want to recover the costs of such Districts by passing them, where possible, onto their tenants (either as higher rent or additional lease specified contributions) and in the co-ops as higher assessments.

But, and remember that I am a free market advocate and in favor of property rights (and obligations) and don't think that Greenburgh rises or falls on perceived "maintenance of enterprise obligations" to those who rent stores. They are "for profit" businesses and they are not removed from the same risk/reward calculations as any other resident who works for a living. What "greater" benefits are realized from their existence is only secondary to their profit motive.

If the rent is too high and stores cannot successfully pass these costs onto customers, then the stores will close and the real estate will be vacant. As "undesirable" as that is to the community, it is even more undesirable to those who own the rental properties. But as much as everyone would like to see no "for rent" signs on the Avenue, the Town should not gratutitously take on the subsidizing of retail operations without the power to audit the books of the store owners -- to verify the need. The Town cannot become the silent partners of those in the private sector merely because some people think that it is a benefit to maintain a restaurant or a fruit store or a dry cleaner of a health club etc. And if you assist a mom and pop does that mean you are similarly bound to assist national chain stores or the Chase Bank?

Still, all of this is putting the cart before the horse while succumbing to the reality of stores being closed with unsubstantiated "losses" bandied about, either in the accuracy of their dollar amount, whether the basement inventories were in fact ever still sellable at retail or the final determination regarding their uninsured status.

Or whether there are legal undertakings against the Town yet to be announced.

But all this begs the question of whether or not you believe the Regula "Report" which to no surprise supports conclusions which remove the Town and DPW from liability. Personally, I don't believe anything coming from Mr. Regula's mouth (or keyboard) and would welcome the response of Citizen Bob when he gets over the celebrity of tonight's Coronation.

But the greater and more realistic matter is whether or not the mom and pop stores of the past deserve to be maintained in the Greenburgh of today. There was even a blogger who wrote her concern that the closing of the Barnes & Noble on Central Avenue was a loss because it was such a nice place to visit and it was never crowded.
Anyone is free to rent any of the envisioned to-be-vacant stores on East Hartsdale Avenue, or anywhere, and establish a similarly shopper-free business. Hartsdale Center still refuses to recognize that there is a new demographic of nearby residents and that definition supports the reality that they get into cars on weekends and travel elsewhere to buy what they haven't bought near their work locations during the week. The only chance the merchants have at their disposable dollars is Monday-Friday when these dollars walk past the stores on their way home. However, these stores are already closed when these customers walk past.

Hartsdale/Greenburgh of yesteryear no longer exists save for the minds of older residents who remember and want their daily routines to remain frozen in time. However, these older citizens do vote and politicians tend to take this population seriously. Unfortunately, the younger but larger population does not vote as often and this leaves them held captive to the disproportionate voice of the elderly. When this group says they want Hartsdale preserved, they speak quietly but are heard loudly. Thus we witness the undue "hold all calls unless it's about the Hartsdale situation" approach of the last weeks. None of this would be such a setback however if this group of voters actually had money to spend in the Hartsdale stores. Meanwhile across Town on Route 9A, I am sure that there is some little guy with say an auto body shop or a service establishment and no one has given any attention to his flood problems.

See, the reality is that in Unincorporated, it's an all Edgemont world, on occasion the stores at the bottom of the hill get some support if it can serve a greater political purpose.

Hartsdale Wine & Liquor Store said...

Hartsdale Wines and Liquor will reopen.
Our hours are and always have been 10am to 8pm Mon.-Sat.
Our store relys on the foot traffic and train crowds.
We were busy enough to survive the garage project so we will live through this.
As far a people who live in the town. I am one of those double wammies. I live on the ave and own a store in the village. My wife and I are in our 30's and most of our nieghbors are.
We are very busy on saturday's. Mostly all people from the avenue.
We have been here 75 years and will remain here for as long as our building stands!
914-723-3535 Robert Troy

Marilyn said...

Not only does the town have to come up with a viable plan to prevent future flood catastrophes, but it also has to support Hartsdale all the time. The lack of parking has a stranglehold on E Hartsdale Ave businesses. Who wants to shop on a street where there is little parking and the parking police is circling endlessly? It took OPorto a year to get its problems solved with the town and the pizza parlor went begging for approval of a few tables for a year also. The farmer's market is down to two vendors. Surely we can come up with a plan to help Hartsdale residents and businesses maintain a lively and interesting environment. Won't that benefit all of Greenburgh?