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Lawler Pledges to Fight for $56M in Funding for Critical Infrastructure

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Congressman Mike Lawler speaks outside of Mount Pleasant Town Hall last week with a group of supervisors from throughout the 17th Congressional District pressing for federal money to complete crucial infrastructure projects.

Congressman Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) has submitted requests for $56 million in annual Appropriations Committee funding for 15 infrastructure projects across the 17th Congressional District that focus primarily on protecting water quality and improving other infrastructure.

A bipartisan group of about a dozen municipal leaders joined Lawler at Mount Pleasant Town Hall in Valhalla last Wednesday to support Lawler’s efforts to obtain all or some of the funding for crucial projects in each of the communities.

While the congressman and his staff had many requests for funding come in from throughout the district from governments and organizations, they zeroed in on ones that would have the greatest impact.

“We really focused on these projects in particular because I believe these are the responsibility of government, and in an area like ours where we pay among the highest property taxes in America, where our municipalities are constantly trying to upgrade and improve and invest in their infrastructure, this is where government at the federal level should be working with our partners at the local level to invest in critical projects,” Lawler said.

Communities in each of the district’s four counties – Westchester, Putnam, Rockland and Dutchess – are represented in the requests.

The Westchester projects in line for federal funds include an upgrade to Ossining’s water distribution system along North State Road; a PFAS mitigation effort in Somers’ Business Historic Preservation District; installation of a central sewer system in the area of Annsville Creek in the Town of Cortlandt; and a new police dispatching system in the Town of Mount Pleasant.

One Putnam project where money has been requested are for the rehabilitation of the Lake Carmel Dam in the Town of Kent. The work has been targeted for work for 10 years, where the threat of a catastrophic failure with the deteriorating dam would endanger lives, property and the New York City water supply, Lawler said.

Three other Putnam projects would include a replacement of the Oregon Corners Sanitary Sewer Pump Station in Putnam Valley, which would not only help protect that community’s health and safety but also help the drinking water for Peekskill because it’s in its watershed; expanding and improving Chamber Park in Mahopac; and new sidewalks for greater pedestrian access at various locations throughout the county.

Putnam Valley Supervisor Jackie Annabi said that if the funding comes through it would harden the town and its residents against a potential failure of deteriorating infrastructure.

“Ultimately, these improvements will help preserve the natural environment, ensure the health of all of our residents and promote economic development by allowing the future development of Putnam Valley within the Lake Peekskill Business District,” Annabi said.

While health and safety are the primary goals, other communities are also hoping that infrastructure upgrades would improve the viability of their business districts and enhance quality of life. Lawler said the Annsville Creek area in Cortlandt could have the potential to be a thriving waterfront community with a boardwalk and fishing sites and other water-related businesses.

Supervisor Dr. Richard Becker said the town has commitments from the state and county for financial assistance as well. He said the sewer project has been designed and the town needs the funds to do the work.

“So to bring this all together, we need to put the pipe in the ground, we need the sewer,” Becker said. “That’s the most expensive part, the most integral part, and we’re grateful to the congressman to take on this effort along with us.”

Over the last five years in Ossining there have been 14 water main breaks in the primary commercial district, said Supervisor Liz Feldman. Those aren’t just an inconvenience for residents, but it disrupts businesses, which are forced to close when those incidents occur sometimes for multiple days, she said.

While there is no guarantee that funding for the projects will materialize, Lawler vowed to push for the funds, particularly because New York State pays more in taxes than it receives from the federal government.

“This is about, from my perspective, making sure that we in the Hudson Valley are getting our fair shar of federal dollars,” Lawler said. “New York State is a donor state. We send more money down to Washington than we receive, and obviously with the cap on SALT many people in our communities are hurting, and so we need to be able to allocate on a local level some of the funding that they need.”

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