By Jon Craig
State environmental conservation officials are investigating a rare “fish kill’’ in Harrison’s Beaver Swamp Brook last week.
More than 1,000 small fish were found dead on Aug. 11 in the brook, which runs from Westchester Country Club through Rye and Harrison to the Long Island Sound in Mamaroneck.
The brook already is the subject of a seven-year-old review by the Department of Environmental Conservation for the cause and possible solutions for frequent floods. The brook’s watershed spans nearly 2,000 acres.
DEC spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said samples from the brook were taken during a cleanup on Aug. 11. Tri-State Environmental Services and the Harrison Department of Public Works responded to clean up the brook. Thousands of dead fish and minnows were removed near the Park Avenue bridge, but much of the milky pollutant had dispersed by the time crews responded. State officials initially suspected someone may have dumped a mixture of paint and paint thinner into a storm drain by Soulard Street.
Results are not back yet, Rosenbach said on Monday, so the source of the pollution is unknown at this time. Several auto body shops adjoin the brook in Harrison. One auto shop owner told The Examiner it was the worst fish kill he’d witnessed in Beaver Swamp Brook in more than 20 years, but said his operations would not have resulted in water pollution.
During the Harrison Town Board meeting on Aug. 7, one of the brook’s neighbors questioned town officials about stalled plans for development along Beaver Swamp Brook near Oakland Avenue.
Michael LaDore of 277 Park Ave., whose yard and home are flooded during heavy rains, asked the town not to move forward with “Project Home Run” until a state DEC administrative law judge issues recommendations about the wetland area.
LaDore has accused the town of filling the wetland, which became an illegal dumping ground in the 1990s, with 66,000 cubic yards of fill, forcing storm water into parts of the City of Rye and his property.
For years, the town of Harrison has proposed converting the area to ball fields and a hiking trail. LaDore believes the town brought fill into the site illegally, harming the flood plains. Town officials instead argue that increasingly severe weather in recent years has caused the majority of the flooding. LaDore and others petitioning the state DEC for relief want the site dug out and restored to its original grade and converted into a “passive park” used for flood storage during heavy rains.
In the meantime, more than $10 million in federal, state and town taxpayer money has been spent on temporary fixes, studies and litigation.
Since 2007, the City of Rye and flood-affected Harrison residents have fought the town of Harrison from moving forward with any “Project Home Run” development plans. DEC Administrative Law Judge Daniel O’Connell has yet to issue any final decision or recommendations about the fate of the site.
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