Washingtonville Storm Sewer Cleanout Will Limit Flooding
Washingtonville Mayor Joe Bucco’s plan for correcting some of the longstanding infrastructural problems in the village began with the new wastewater (sewer) facility, which is halfway completed. The next big infrastructure repair, replacing curbing, sidewalks, and catch basins to improve the village’s storm drainage and to ready the streets for paving in the spring, will be started next week.
“We’re addressing an infrastructure that has literally been ignored for 25 years,” Bucco said, in an interview at Village Hall. “In a conversation I had in June with the DEC, I asked them to come into the village and give us guidance on what needs to be fixed first and foremost. In the past, the only communication the village had had with the DEC was when a fine of $900,000 was imposed on it and a consent order for the Wastewater Facility was issued that we still have on us today due to past negligence. The DEC welcomed the fact that we initiated this current conversation, and when they came in June to audit the village’s storm drains, catch basins, and outfalls, they said ours was the worst audit they had ever been on.”
How bad was it? “They said the village had not tended to its drainage, by their reckoning, for the past 20 to 25 years,” Bucco said. “What that means is that 25 years of debris is sitting in the storm drains, blocking them during rains, the outfalls not addressed, and things being allowed to weaken to the point of deterioration.”
When storm water enters the sewer facility, clean water is treated at the same cost as sewer water. “The 2011-12 sewer budget was 1.1 million as prepared by the prior year’s board,” Bucco explained, “with the money going to treat clean rainwater down at the sewer plant. During a normal day we treat approximately 450,000-550,000 gallons of wastewater. We’re officially allowed to treat up to 750,000. During heavy rains we treat well over 1 million gallons. This past rainfall was in excess of that number, which is a violation, which equals a fine from the DEC in the amount of $38,000 per day, per violation. The village had ignored a lot of things for the past 25 years. And now I am correcting all of that. The unfortunate negligence of past boards makes for a massive cleanup job,” he said.
So how will the village solve the storm drain problems? “We purchased a new street sweeper, on a grant from Senator Larkin’s office,” village trustee Rich Calore said, “which has the ability to vacuum out the storm drains, in our case about eight or nine feet of debris in any given 15-foot-deep catch basin — that’s a lot of years of buildup from neglect.” The street sweeper is shared via an intermunicipal agreement with the Town and Village of Blooming Grove and was instrumental in cleaning up debris throughout the town during this week’s heavy rains. DPW workers are now performing this herculean task. The village outsourced its Sewer Department for a savings of over $125,000 per year, and moved its remaining two workers from the sewer plant over to the DPW, adding to the DPW’s manpower. “Twenty years ago, the DPW had about 15 workers,” Calore said. “That number had dropped, when we took office, to four workers, not nearly enough to handle what the village needs.”
Bucco said, “This explains why much of the village’s upkeep was neglected for so many years. While we now have a DPW workforce of nine men, that’s still a far cry from what it used to be.” He said the village recently outsourced its Water Department, with a projected savings of over $100,000 per year. “This is more cost-efficient than having the understaffed DPW stretched too thin, and will allow the DPW to concentrate on everything that needs to be accomplished in the village: bringing our storm water problems under control and maintaining storm drainage, and continuing working on our beautification projects. Now that the DPW does currently have the manpower to handle the execution of important infrastructure repairs, we can move forward. If the village had continued to ignore its infrastructure, nothing else would matter, the system would have collapsed.”
What of the new Sewell Park across from Washingtonville Middle School? “I want to thank the volunteer committee that had been working on the Sewell Park plans,” Bucco said. “It’s important to have such wonderful people who are willing to take the time and give their energy in such a positive manner. The plans are at Village Hall and anyone can come in and look at them. Among other projects are upgrades to Vern Allen and Woodfield — a.k.a. Skateboard — Park, fountains in our retention ponds along Ahern Blvd. to control algae and insects, as well as handling resident issues more efficiently and economically. The list goes on and on.”
For all the dog-lovers in the village, Bucco said, “The dog park at Vern Allen should hopefully be completed by the end of November.” The DPW will raise the level of ground for drainage purposes if necessary, said village trustee Val Laudato, and the fencing will soon be installed, creating separate large-dog and small-dog areas in the grassy corridor protected by trees on the west side of Vern Allen.
In other news, the Solar Farm Law was passed in Washingtonville on Nov. 5, as well as a building permit approved for a solar farm to be constructed on the Casazza land off Rt. 208 and Woodcock Mountain Road. This solar array will not be visible from any road. “We look forward to clean green energy going into the village, a quiet non-polluting business, and some real tax income as well,” Bucco said. “It’s a win-win.” More information on the Solar Law can be obtained at Village Hall.
After Thanksgiving, Girl Scout Troop 544 and the Washingtonville Girl Scouts will hold a Pasta Dinner fundraiser with karaoke on Nov. 30 from 5:30-8:00 p.m. in the Taft Elementary School cafeteria to benefit the wife and two small children of Sean Spillman, who recently passed away after being struck by a car. The Spillman family lives in the center of Washingtonville. Questions can be sent to Colleen Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org (spelled with one ‘l’ as printed here).
The next big event will be the Christmas Parade Dec. 1 at 6:00 p.m. by the Blooming Grove/Washingtonville Chamber of Commerce, and the pre-parade “Whoville Who-bilation” festivities starting 1:00 p.m. in the center of town by the Washingtonville Community Events Committee (the same folks that put on Witchingtonville). Christmas and other winter-themed holiday decorations will start to go up in the village right after Thanksgiving.
CAPTION 1: New Washingtonville Police Department officer James Drury with his family on Oct. 25 (Photo provided)
CAPTION 2: New Washingtonville Police Department officer Michael Orefice with his family on Oct. 1. (Photo provided)