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Mount Kisco Agrees to Accept Sewage From Two New Castle Communities

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Mount Kisco approved an agreement last week involving multiple levels of government and a nonprofit entity that will allow receiving sewage from two New Castle communities to the village’s pump station.

The Village Board gave the green light to divert sewage from Riverwoods and a portion of the Yeshiva settlement in New Castle to the Saw Mill Pump Station once various system and infrastructure improvements are completed, said Mayor Gina Picinich.

The agreement would provide a solution to the failing Fox Hollow wastewater treatment facility that serves the two communities, a problem that if remained unresolved would continue to jeopardize the water supply of New York City and portions of southern Westchester.

Piciich said the agreement will also trigger about $9.5 million in funding that would go toward most of the necessary capital improvements Mount Kisco must make to its pump station and the Branch Brook sewer main replacement. The more than 60-year-old pump station is in need of multiple upgrades, which would need to be done anyway along with the main replacement, said Village Manager Ed Brancati.

“The most cost-effective and reasonable way to do this is to connect to our existing system and to get through our pump station out to the county for treatment,” Picinich said.

Westchester County must increase the capacity of its receiving mains underneath Hunts Lane in downtown Chappaqua. That is expected to be completed by 2027, Picinich said. Mount Kisco and New Castle have agreed to cap their flows to the village’s pump station until then.

Under the agreement, Mount Kisco will receive a $1.5 million connection fee from New York City, $2.4 million from Westchester County and $2,375,000 from the state to help offset the cost of the work. It has also received grant funding of another $3 million grant that is in its water fund, according to Brancati.

A separate project, replacement of a wooden century-old main at Croton Avenue and Main Street, would cost the village $1.4 million, he said. Mount Kisco would need to borrow $1,625,000; however, the $100,000 annual payment in out-of-district rates from the Fox Hollow corporation that it would charge Riverwoods and Yehiva customers, would offset the yearly payments on interest and principal on that borrowing, Brancati said.

That also does not include any money Mount Kisco would receive from the Mid Hudson Economic Regional Council to further offset the costs, he said. The village has submitted an application to the council in hopes of tapping additional funds.

Brancati said Mount Kisco has been successful in receiving money for the work because multiple levels of government are requiring regional approaches to solve some of the area’s most pressing challenges, including sewage issues.

“That shared approach is exactly why we received funding, why we got the award,” Brancati said.

Fox Hollow’s flow would be limited to 80,000 gallons of flow a day under the agreement. That is about twice the flow that Riverwoods and Yeshiva currently generate, he said.

Before voting, trustees questioned Picinich, Brancati and Village Attorney Whitney Singleton regarding the village’s and Fox Hollow’s obligations. Trustee Karen Schleimer, who was the lone board member to vote against the deal, said she had too many unanswered questions, particularly the identity of the people behind Fox Hollow, which is considered a nonprofit transportation corporation. She said the only thing she knew of it was its Somers mailing address.

“My problem is not whether or not it’s a good deal, it’s that I have so many questions that I think it’s premature for us to move tonight to a vote, and that’s my concern,” Schleimer said.

Picinich said that in addition to its flow capacity, which will be metered, Fox Hollow is responsible to maintain its own equipment. If it fails to make the required payments, the Town of New Castle could choose to pick up the payments or Mount Kisco is allowed to litigate or terminate service, she said.

If Fox Hollow’s facility were to fail, then New York City would step in under the public health law to fix the sewer system, a cost that would be exponentially higher, Singleton said.

“New York City wants to protect their watershed,” Singleton said. “Yes, they’re in favor of this.”

Trustee Peter Grunthal said he was satisfied the agreement provides the village with sufficient protections.

“What was presented to us initially has had several provisions added so that we can absolutely minimize this risk and have no risk at all,” Grunthal said. “It’s been terribly important.”

The agreement does not relieve Mount Kisco of its obligations to limit its flow to 3,227,000 gallons a day over any 24-hour period, 2.5 million gallons a day over any three-day average and 2.2 million gallons a day over a 90-day average.

However, even if the diverted sewage were to reach 80,000 gallons a day, it would not come close to reaching that capacity, Picinich said. Mount Kisco’s current flow ranges from 1.2 million to 1.5 million a day, she said.

Previous agreements reached by New York City with the village in 1908, 1963 and 1985, prohibited Mount Kisco from accepting flow outside its borders. New York City Department of Environmental Protection has provided an exception in this case, otherwise those agreements will otherwise remain in place.

Picinich said given that Mount Kisco has other major capital expenses, such as rebuilding the Preston Way Bridge, the funding derived for its own pump station and main replacement upgrades is crucial.

“If we can figure out a way to cover this cost, let’s do that because we have to cover other costs as well that are infrastructure-related,” she said.

A third New Castle community with similar sewage issues, Random Farms, will be upgrading its treatment facility.

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