The Proposed Sewer Project – Phase II

8.3.2020

Moving Ahead on Phase II Sewer Project

At its July 28, 2020 meeting, the Town Board took several actions to move ahead on the Phase II sewer project, known as the Bedford Hills-Katonah Phase II Sewer District.   By way of background for over 100 years sewers have been considered for those areas in the town in close proximity to the Cross River Reservoir.  Proposals to create sewers had been turned down at least four times over a thirty year period until 2017, when the Town Board created the Bedford Hills-Katonah Business Sewer District (Phase I), approved by 94% of the property owners in the district in a referendum in the Spring of 2017.  The Phase I district is comprised of what’s known as a non-contiguous district, since not all areas are contiguous to one another.

The district is comprised of areas which had been identified as a priority focus area by the Northern Westchester Watershed Committee (NWCC) for the purposes of protecting New York City’s drinking water in the City’s watershed system.  Properties in the district include cesspools and septic systems with a history of failure and highly frequent pumping.  In addition to the neighborhood business districts, the Phase I district also includes certain municipal buildings and Bedford Park Apartments in Bedford Hills, Katonah Elementary School and property of St. Mary’s of the Assumption Church in Katonah, these last three sites are known as “upgrade sites” as to which New York City has a legal obligation either to provide upgraded wastewater treatment or, in the alternative, connection to the Town’s sewer system.

The Town began construction on the Phase I sewer system in April, it is scheduled to be completed mid-2021 and it was financed 95% through funds from New York City (through its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)), Westchester County East of Hudson Water Quality Improvement Program and a grant from New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

At the time that the Town embarked on the Phase I project, we explained to the community that it marked the first step in provided sewers for the priority focus area identified by NWCC and that further phases would be required.   Phase II marks the next step in the Town’s long term plan.  Like the Phase I district, The Phase II district, if approved in a referendum of the property owners in the district anticipated to be held in mid-October, will be a non-contiguous district, like the Phase I district.  It would be comprised of single family residential properties in Katonah; 14 properties on Railroad Avenue in Bedford Hills within the light industrial zone; and also in Bedford Hills 54 condominiums on Lake Marie Lane, 16 condominiums at 100 Haines Road and the Garden Homes Apartments also at 100 Haines Road.   These parcels on Lake Marie Lane and at 100 Haines Roads are an upgrade site as to which, like their counterparts in the Phase I project, New York City has a legal obligation either to provide upgraded wastewater treatment or, in the alternative, connection to the Town’s sewer system.

Following the same financing structure of Phase I, approximately 98% of the Phase II project costs would be financed by New York City through DEP, Westchester County East of Hudson Water Quality Improvement Program and funds which it is anticipated will remain from the Phase I project.

The Town Board took action as follows:

  1. Approved a resolution calling a public hearing for 7:00 PM on August 17, 2020 to make a determination under the NYS State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as to the project’s environmental impact.
  2. Approved the final Map, Plan and Report (MPR) prepared by project engineers Woodard & Curran. The MPR describes the Phase II project, provides a map of the district, describes anticipated financing for the project, provides the estimated annual cost to each parcel in the district in the first year of operation and certain other information.
  3. Approved a resolution calling a public hearing for 7:05 PM on August 17, 2020, which assuming a negative declaration under SEQRA, would consider adoption of an Order to the effect that establishment of the Phase I district is in the public interest.

This proposed sewer system extension project builds off of the Phase I project, which is currently under construction. Phase II would potentially provide sewer service to three areas:

  • The condominiums and apartments at the Bedford Lake complex off Haines Road in Bedford Hills
  • 133 to 317 Railroad Avenue in Bedford Hills
  • Residential properties in Katonah: 4 to 62 Bedford Road, 57 to 104 Edgemont, 48 to 52 Parkway, 5 to 36 The Terrace, 2 to 4 Valley Edge Road, and 36 to 85 Valley Road.

The project in currently in the planning phase. Next steps are to pursue with New York City an amendment the Town’s Intergovernmental Agreement with the City to provide for City funding for Phase II in the amount of approximately $8.6 million and to pursue with Westchester County an amendment to the Town’s Intermunicipal Agreement with the County to provide approximately $3.4 million for Phase II funding.   After that, provide amendments to these agreements for Town Board action, and develop an engineering document describing the proposed project and its cost to the property owners (called a Map, Plan, and Report).

Following public information sessions in the next two months, we will distribute a straw poll to each of the areas within Phase II – Bedford Lake, Katonah Residential and Railroad Avenue. If the Town wishes to proceed, we would schedule a referendum for Fall 2020 to approve creation of a new sewer district and the bond issue. This last step is the deciding step.

Phase II Background Information

The hamlets of Bedford Hills and Katonah long have been identified as a priority area of concern for addressing septic issues due to their location in the New York City watershed and with close proximity to the reservoir itself.

Years back New York City was part of a multi-governmental and agency agreement which led to funding for water quality improvement projects as well as an obligation for NYC to fund upgrades in certain wastewater treatment facilities on private property.  This obligation is referred to as the regulatory upgrade program as it is tied to certain wastewater treatment which NYC is required to meet. Rather than upgrading those sites, NYC can enter into agreements to provide for an “alternative upgrade” under which the sites for which regulatory upgrades have been slated would be connected to a municipal sewer system.

The funds which NYC otherwise would apply to the regulatory upgrade would be applied to the cost of connecting to the system as a “connection fee”. This alternative upgrade approach is the basis for $13.3 million in City funds to be applied to the Phase I sewer project such that Bedford Park Apartments in Bedford Hills, property of St. Mary’s Church in Katonah and Katonah Elementary School would be connected to the sewer system on which we will begin construction in the Spring of 2020.   Coupled with that project is providing sewers for the business districts of Bedford Hills and Katonah.

The remains one regulatory upgrade site for which NYC is responsible, which is Bedford Lake Apartments in Bedford Hills.  We have had several meetings with DEP to discuss what the cost would be for a new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) for Bedford Lake apartments in relation to connecting to the sewer system (which would entail increasing the 500,000 gallons per day capacity of the WWTP of the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision which the Town will be taking over as well as the extension of the collection system to reach the property.

We are hopeful of reaching an agreement with DEP in the next month or two. That’s the first step, of course, in a long process ahead. This is why we started on Phase II a year ago – the whole process takes a long time.

Ideally we could start in on construction Phase II right after completing Phase I, substantial completion for which is targeted for mid-2021. 

Please contact Kevin Winn, Bedford DPW Commissioner, with any questions or concerns:

Kevin Winn
Town DPW Commissioner
914
 241-2458

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