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Residents in a neighborhood in the Town of Somers are crying foul over the recent demolition of an entrance wall that stood for more than 55 years.
“It really was a brutal act,” asserted Patrick DeSena, a 57-year resident of the Lincolndale community and a former four-term town councilman. “That felt like a body blow to the neighborhood. It was a violation of our neighborhood.”
The four-foot-high stone wall at Robert Martin Boulevard and Adson Way was taken down by the Somers Highway Department on July 19 without any prior warning to the homeowners in the area.
Highway Superintendent Nick DeVito said even though the wall had been in place for many decades, it was technically illegal since it was located on a town right-of-way.
He also maintained the wall had become a liability having been struck in the last six years by a moving vehicle several times and a plow, costing the town more than $10,000.
“This entrance wall is a severe liability for the town and is NOT a breakaway structure,” DeVito stressed. “The Supervisor and Highway Superintendent decided that spending taxpayer monies to repair vehicles and the wall numerous times outweighed the aesthetics of the entrance wall for 10 homes on Robert Martin Boulevard. Safety for all residents will always be the highest priority.”
DeSena, 83, who unsuccessfully tried to stop the wall from being leveled after hearing noise, contended the wall did not present a safety issue.
“People would stand behind the stone wall for safety reasons,” DeSena said. “It was a symbol of our neighborhood.”
A day after the wall was bulldozed, DeSena spearheaded a petition drive that stated in part, “This action has left a gaping void in the beauty and tranquility of our little neighborhood and has caused its residents to demand and recommend that the entrance way be reconstructed, in like manner to the original, with consideration given as to its exact positioning so as to allow easier ingress and egress for large vehicles.”
Two years ago, DeSena requested additional signage along Robert Martin Boulevard to direct and regulate traffic, but didn’t ask for any changes to the entrance wall. The Highway Department agreed to replace a Dead End sign and a No Outlet sign and install signage alerting drivers it would be one way.
However, in addition, the Highway and Engineering Department discussed “eliminating and/or relocating the existing entrance wall as it interferes with snowplow maintenance vehicles and other large vehicles that enter the roadway,” according to a May 26, 2021, memo to the Town Board.
“The reason I didn’t take it down two years ago is I knew it would be a nightmare,” DeVito said. “When we do work in the right-of-way, we don’t alert neighbors. We just go and do it. There’s nothing historic about that little wall there. I can’t go there and reconstruct a wall because we would be breaking our own law.”
DeVito said he is willing to meet with the homeowners in the neighborhood to discuss other options, such as installing a small fence.
“I’m sure there is a solution to this that will make everyone happy,” he said.
DeSena concurred, but is asking to meet with the Town Board at a work session to discuss the matter, although he is open to chatting with DeVito as well.
“I would be happy to meet with him,” DeSena said. “It’s an easy solution. It’s a win-win for both the town and the neighborhood. We will not accept that the wall is gone.”
It remains to be seen if DeSena and his neighbors can convince DeVito and the Town Board based on a July 21 e-mail DeSena received from Supervisor Robert Scorrano after DeSena went to the Elephant Hotel to meet with him.
“The removal of the entrance wall was done for safety reasons and will not be reconstructed,” Scorrano stated.
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/