Windmill Farms residents face the possibility of having to pay up to $9.6 million for a recommended water main replacement project to insure proper water service to the 379 residences in the development.
North Castle Assistant Water Superintendent Sal Misiti said last week the antiquated system, installed between the late 1940s and early 1960s when Windmill Farms was built in stages, has been plagued in recent years by breakdowns. It also is prone to inadequate pressure for its hydrants, particularly during peak hours when homeowners simultaneously use water for irrigation. Windmill Farms is located off of Route 22 in Armonk.
“The system is getting old and we’re pretty much past its useful life,” Misiti said.
During a presentation at the outset of the public hearing at the Aug. 15 North Castle Town Board meeting, Misiti said modern water systems must use pipes that are at least eight inches in circumference and maintain the 500-gallon per minute flow for each hydrant in the system during peak demand.
While the current pipes are made of asbestos cement, recent testing revealed that the water is safe to use, he said.
GHD Consulting Engineers completed a recent modeling study that recommended the installation of a new system be divided into primary and secondary priorities. There are currently 8.1 miles of pipe.
Residents who attended last week’s public hearing were concerned about the project’s expense and whether there were ways to trim costs or seek grants.
Windmill resident Pete Coviello said the town should consider developing a questionnaire to gauge feedback from the homeowners who now face the possibility of a steep expense.
“Maybe replacing the whole system is a great idea,” Coviello said. “I just don’t think we should be moving ahead quite so quickly.”
The expense for the first year for the typical single-family homeowner in Windmill Farms would be $2,903.
Misiti said the current $9,640,000 million price tag was an educated guess since it isn’t known how much rock would have to be removed, one of the more expensive parts of the project. It also assumes a 4 percent interest rate, said Supervisor Howard Arden. It is expected that the interest rate would be lower than that, probably at least half a point less, he said.
“The figure (for the project) is going to be much more accurate by the time we go out to borrow the money,” Arden said.
The town board would have to authorize a 25-year bond for the project. Arden said although the board has the final decision whether to move ahead, it is looking for input from Windmill residents.
Resident Jeffrey Allen asked officials if the final cost is much lower whether Windmill would have the option of prepaying the loan obligations. He was told that option exists.
Other residents asked whether the Byram Hills School District and Brynwood Country Club should be contributing toward the capital project since they are tapping into the water district. The nearby Coman Hill Elementary School uses the district’s water as does Brynwood for its clubhouse. The country club does not irrigate its golf course with district water.
The two entities use a combined 10 percent of the nearly 45 million gallons of water sold each year, Misiti said, but pay double the rate of district homeowners.
If the town board decides to move ahead, construction could tentatively begin next May and last up to two years. Before that, a Request for Proposal for engineering services must be put out followed by a bid award. Then there would the design phase, bidding of the construction work and award of the contract.
The board adjourned the hearing until Sept. 12.