Board Hears of Building Permits Pending for Decades, Sewer Repairs and Problems

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong 

After a late start, the Cold Spring Village Board breezed through its formal monthly meeting Tuesday night (April 12),  hearing of building permits still pending after more than 35 years, problems and problem-solving in the sewer system, and infrastructure needs at the firehouse and Lunn Terrace. Short one trustee, with Airinhos Serradas absent, the board also appointed two new members to the Recreation Commission, bringing its total back to five after the departure of all the previous members in the last few weeks.
       Outlining recent activities, Building Inspector William Bujarski said the Building Department continues its organizational clean up of records and long-unresolved matters. “We’ve between 300 and 400 open building permits, some of them dating back to 1975. We’re busy. We’re trying to clean up; trying to get the records together as much as possible,” he told the board. Bujarski said the clean up was taking place while pursuing the usual day-to-day tasks as well as undergoing training. 
       Water and Sewer Superintendent Gregory Phillips reported that heavy spring rains, combined with snow melt, had led to more inflow and infiltration (I and I) and several violations of the village’s discharge permit. “On five days, flows [in] to the treatment facility were in excess of 500,000 gallons per day, which is our permit limit. On two of those days, the hydraulic overload of the facility caused an excess of solids to be released in the effluent,” into the Hudson River. The village notified the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), where “they know we’re on top of it, trying to get a hold on that” [problem].
       He also updated the board on the project to grout collection mains on Depot Square and Main Street from Stone Street to the railroad tracks. “A high amount of active infiltration was noted on Depot Square,” he said. “Of 81 joints tested, 72 failed and needed grouting” to prevent outside water from getting into the pipes. In other work, the department installed a new immersible grinder motor in the treatment plant, an upgrade expected to prevent strain on other equipment and increase efficiency.  “It was $5,000 just for the motor,” Phillips said. “But it works like a champ. I think down the line the five grand is going to pay off, several times over.”
       Infrastructure needs came up again when Trustee J. Ralph Falloon discussed an engineering inspection conducted earlier that day on the partly sagging Cold Spring firehouse floor.  “The project is potentially far-reaching, farther than what we put in the budget,” he told his colleagues. The damaged area extends under the two bathrooms, which might need to be removed to undertake the work on the floor, he said. “It’s not in immediate danger of collapse. So we have some time to work on a plan to mediate it. It’s pretty depressing, but not surprising. We will definitely find a way to fix it.”     
       Mayor Seth Gallagher announced that Falloon also is exploring conditions at the Lunn Terrace bridge over the railroad track. The bridge provides the only access by car to the lower part of the village, including the waterfront. “It has been deteriorating and it’s critical to the safety and the day to day living of residents below the railroad tracks,” Gallagher said. Dealing with the bridge “is the responsibility of the MTA, through the state, but we do need to pressure them to do that in a timely manner.”
       Falloon read a letter from William Henderson, executive director of the Metro-North Railroad Commuter Council, which held a meeting with residents at the village hall on March 30. “We had the opportunity to take a closer look at the underside of the bridge after the meeting, and saw the spalling and slabs of concrete that had fallen from the structure,” Henderson wrote. “Suffice it to say we did not choose to spend much time under the bridge.” Henderson said that his group is trying to determine the Metro-North management’s plans for bridge repairs. “They know how bad it is, so that is going to work in our favor,” Falloon added.
       The board also named Mike Chefalo and Kurt Landtroop to fill the remaining two vacancies on the Recreation Commission. “I’d say there was about 10 people interested, so we had a good pool to choose from,” Gallagher observed. “I think we have a good group, a varied group.”
       Gallagher also informed his colleagues of interest by Picture Shack Entertainment, a historic-documentary media company, to film inside The Grove, the abandoned house perched on the hill across from the Foodtown and Drug World plazas on Chestnut Street. Built around 1853, the house belonged to Dr. Frederick Lente, the physician for the West Point Foundry. The board agreed that the mayor should assist the film company to proceed with its project, a “test run or sizzle reel” to show to network executives. 


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