Feb
7th

In the Riverdale Press: Soggy Soccer Grounds in VCP 2/4/2010

Water, water everywhere ………where could it be coming …….not from the mother of all leaky basements ………the extra water they are putting into the storm drain?

——————

Soccer woes

Soggy fields at the Van Cortlandt Park Parade Grounds may have contributed to the ongoing sod and grass problems that have rendered the fields unusable this kiddie soccer season, according to representatives of the New York City Parks Department, at a Jan. 27 meeting for CB 8’s Parks and Recreation Committee.

“It’s not an exact science,” said Margot Perron, president of the Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy. “We don’t always know when something’s going to finish. Stuff happens.”

And one of the things that happened in the case of the Parade Ground was extra water inundating the growing grass, potentially overwhelming it during a fragile time.

“We have a wet situation,” said Steve Des- Noyer, design supervisor for Croton projects at the Parks Dept., adding that it might have been caused by water main breaks or more rain than anticipated.

The next step, Mr. DesNoyer said, will be test pits on the land in question. If groundwater is found, he said, the Parks Department will check for chlorine to see if city water is getting in.

“If that doesn’t get corrected it would have to be cordoned off,” he said. The over-watering was not anticipated, he said, adding that extra drainage would take care of the problem. All corrective work will probably have to wait until the spring, he said, though heavy rains could postpone that date again.

Still, it’s not just the extra water keeping the fields from being ready to use. The grass knitting is different from establishing the sod as ready-touse, Mr. DesNoyer said.

“It’s not just the knitting process, which can be done in four weeks,” he said. “We like to see things going through a full growing season.”

Since the new grass was planted last year, the full growing season would extend through the end of the spring, after soccer season is already over.

Letting the field grow healthily is important, agreed Traffic and Transportation chair Tony Cassino, who attended the Parks meeting, adding that it does not make it the best option for the Parade Ground fields.

“There’s a balance of wanting to preserve a gem we have right now … and, on the other hand, [are] all the leagues and teams who want to use the fields,” Mr. Cassino said.

The leagues that will be affected are the traveling teams and girls’ teams, said Bruce Silverman, president of the Riverdale Soccer Club.

Some teams will have shortened seasons and others will play on fields borrowed from neighborhood schools like the Riverdale Country School, Mr. Silverman said, adding that more than 200 girls between first and ninth grades might still have their season cancelled if they can’t find adequate field space.

“We still have to see what our options are,” he said.

This is part of the February 4, 2010 online edition of The Riverdale Press.

http://www.riverdalepress.com/full.php?sid=11362&current_edition=2010-02-04

Nov
9th

Pedestrial Bridge connecting Van Cortlandt Park East to West

This was discussed at the last FMC meeting on Nov 5, 2009.  It seemed to catch many by surprise.  The history of the bridge is repeated here for information:

In 1999, the New York City Council passed the ULURP resolution approving the site selection to build a filter plant in Van Cortlandt Park.  The resolution promising certain things, including the Facility Monitoring Committee.

The pedestrian bridge is mentioned in the resolution and on the list of projects.    If the project is feasible, and for some reason, too expensive, then we should be given the opportunity to raise the money elsewhere.  Parks should do the report, then it has to go to the CITY COUNCIL.

HERE ARE THE DOCUMENTS:

Among the many other items included is this one:

9.) DPR shall undertake a study and impact analysis (the study) to determine whether or not a pedestrian footbridge, crossing the Major Deegan Expressway linking the heretofore and connected east and west portions of Van Cortlandt Park is technically, legally and financially feasible. Said study shall be completed by September 2002 and the results of such study shall be filed with the Speaker of the City Council and the Director of the Land Use Division of the City Council within the ten (10) days of completion. In the event that said study determines that the construction of such a pedestrian footbridge is technically, legally and financially feasible, a Budget Modification, transferring from DEP to DPR funds sufficient to design and build it shall be introduced in the Council by the Mayor within sixty (60) days of the completion of the study;

VanCortlandtMap-2007-11x17

Nov
1st

From Guest Pens: Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz – Croton is one of the Mayor’s worst failures

(Editor’s note:  We started the category of Guest Pens.  Just send the info in on any one of our comment section (it is always monitored), and I will post.  Some people do not want to use their name, but I have to verify that they are credible. )

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz

3107 Kingsbridge Avenue, Bronx, New York 10463 (718) 796-5345

November 1, 2009

The meeting that the five community members of the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee (CFMC) held in the Amalgamated House’s Vladeck Hall on Thursday, October 29 illustrated conclusively that the water filtration plant boondoggle that is costing taxpayers unnecessary billions and is being grossly mismanaged by a secretive NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s worst failures.

At the meeting, Deputy Comptroller John Graham explained that the recently released audits by Comptroller Bill Thompson found that the DEP could not account for the astronomical rise in costs as compared with their original budgeting for the project.  Many who attended spoke emphatically that the comptroller’s findings definitively support their long-held claim that the DEP cooked the books in order to see to it that the plant was built in Van Cortlandt Park and to create a lucrative bonanza for contractors and engineers while sticking everyday New Yorkers with an outrageous bill.

Specifically, the comptroller reported that the DEP failed to account for a cost escalation rate above those substantiated by industry indexes such as the Engineering News-Record Construction index of 5.04%, or the Handy-Whitman Index of Public Utility Construction of 5.73%, or the Prevailing Wage Rates of 4.7%.

I agree with the Comptroller:  “(The DEP’s) Underlying estimate was unreliable and lacked sufficient documentation to substantiate its accuracy and completeness.”  The still unanswered question of why they did it and who benefited from it was also raised at the meeting, but not surprisingly, though DEP and contractor representatives were present, they did not participate in the discussion.  What is clear is that we all need to continue our due diligence until the truth is definitively known.

Though not an official CFMC meeting, the gathering was a clear statement to Mayor Bloomberg’s DEP that a majority of the seven-member committee is fed up over the unexplained costs, debilitating and expensive construction delays, and ongoing DEP stonewalling and lack of transparency as indicated in the comptroller’s audit.   It was made clear that at the next CFMC meeting, scheduled for Thursday, November 5 at 7:00 p.m. at the DEP office at 3660 Jerome Avenue, the comptroller’s report is going to be on the agenda and Mayor Bloomberg’s DEP is going to have to attempt to justify their actions and also change the opaque processes which contribute to the scandal on a daily basis.

Since its establishment by the City Council in 2004, the committee charged with monitoring this project was manipulated by the DEP, thereby hampering its work.  However, in 2007 after my office reported that the DEP’s explanation rate for the cost escalation was not correct and that DEP’s stated justifications were invalid smoke screens, the committee finally stood up to then-Commissioner Emily Lloyd, and voted to ask for the audit.  In a pathetic and obvious attempt to avoid inquiry, though the report was issued almost two months ago, the DEP has balked at scheduling meetings of the CFMC until after the mayoral election.

But Thursday’s history-making meeting proves that no matter how much the Mayor controls the Manhattan media, the people of the Bronx must continue to stand strong in the pursuit of truthful information from City Hall and diligence over the administration’s ongoing attempt to hide from scrutiny.

I applaud the work of the community members of the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee, and look forward to its next meeting on Thursday, November 5 so we can hear what the DEP has to say.

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, 81st AD

Oct
23rd

Thurs. 10/29/09, 6:30 pm Community Members of the Croton FMC meet at Vladeck Hall

On Thursday, October 29, 2009 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Community Members of the Croton Facilities Monitoring Committee (CFMC) – Bronx Community Boards 7, 8 &12, Borough President Ruben Diaz and Council Member Oliver Koppell, will hold an informational meeting on the audits prepared in response to the December 2007 CFMC motion concerning the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

The public is invited to attend this presentation. A representative of the New York City Comptroller’s office will present the September 1, 2009 Audit Reports listed below:

The audits can be found at the following links:
• DEP’s Oversight of Costs to Construct the CWTP, FR09-110A, 9/1/2009 – http://bit.ly/AI5Pr
• DEP’s Progress in Constructing the CWTP, FR08-121A, 9/1/2009 – http://bit.ly/1a4a3E

VLADECK HALL, Amalgamated Housing Co-op, 74 Van Cortlandt Park South, enter off of Hillman Avenue, Bronx, NY 10463.

Parking is limited, please use public transportation.

Bring a friend
Refreshments

Oct
17th

Design at the Mosholu Golf Course

Below please find a letter from concerned activists to the Design Commission on the Mosholu Golf Course.

As you may remember from last October 2008, the DEP took more land then they were supposed to take.  That is, more than the 43 acres already alienated.  Instead of giving it back as they were supposed to do, they extended into more land.

Now they are saying that the Parks Department needs to take more land from the public parkland.

In the words often heard stated by Dart Westphal, “you can not tell just by looking, you have to figure it out,” here is a letter from some interested persons.

Deisgn_Comm_re_Parking_MGH_101309

http://www.waterblogged.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/cwtp_above_ground_facilities_mgc_jpr-112008.pdf

Sep
26th

The Mosholu Extension toward Riverdale and Westchester

Does anyone know what’s going on here?

IMG_5140

IMG_5141

IMG_5142

IMG_5143

Looks like there could be something going on with the Old Croton Aqueduct as it is near the trail.

VanCortlandtMap-2007-11x17

Filed under Van Cortlandt Park

Aug
15th

Rowdy Meetings: Parks and Health Care Insurance Reform

Think republican’s invented the rowdy health care reform recess rallies filled with misinformation and fear to pursue their own agenda? Bronxites know better, having experienced these forums on at least two occasions in the past, starting with Clinton High School overlooking the Jerome Park Reservoir. Filling the room with non resident people who are told to disturb the peace and the meeting is the Mayor Bloomberg & Friends modus operandi.

As in the current national heath care reform mess, both the 2003 Croton Filtration and the 2005 Yankee Stadium Redevelopment meetings mangled an overlying issue with the project purpose — the taking of parkland (read: free land), when other alternatives existed to build said project. This mantra was encouraged by the so-called union-contractors and supported by union leadership and membership for selfish reasons – so contractors could make money; and union members higher pay and better benefits.

Just like some are confused about health care reform, few decision makers realized in 2004 and 2006 that alternative sites for each project would maintain union workers keeping their jobs and benefits, and would save the taxpayer billions of dollars.

Today, the message of health care reform is being purposely confused with “death trap for old people,” “increased in abortions,” or “socialistic medicine” for someone’s selfish agenda – like those $24 million per year health care insurance company CEOs, lobbyists tied to the health care industry, etc. Clearly, reform mean equal and better health care for all.

While those joint ventures of contractors and union leaders were initially successful, they ended with many corruption investigations, convictions and pleas, as well as with those same union workers left out in the picket line at the site of the Lehman College Science Building – across the street from the Jerome Park Reservoir!

Mayor Bloomberg & Friends are republicans; that explains the similarities to the national health care reform battle. Hopefully health care reform comes quicker than the long awaited park mitigation around the Jerome Park Reservoir and replacement parks around Yankee Stadium!

We need to learn from our mistakes; not make them over and over. The republican lobbyist spinners have selfish agendas. This is not a public relations campaign, this is our lives.  Health Insurance Reform is not complicated. The cost of inaction is immeasurable. President Obama’s program is clear:  he is not going to raise taxes, but cut the costs we all know exist.

I support the President’s Health Insurance Guarantees.

1. No Discrimination for Pre-Existing Conditions

2. No Exorbitant Out-of-Pocket Expenses, Deductibles or Co-Pays

3. No Cost -Sharing for Preventive Care

4. No Dropping of Coverage for Seriously Ill

5. No Gender Discrimination

6. No Annual or Lifetime Caps on Coverage

7. Extended Coverage for Young Adults

8. Guaranteed Insurance Renewal

Join me. Take Action. Start the discussion.

Jun
27th

Stormwater Pollution planned for Van Cortlandt Park

___

Stormwater is that part of the rain or snow that falls on the landscape and is not absorbed into the soil. Many years ago landscapes captured all precipitation; but today, the built urbanized environment takes water falling speedily after a storm, and funnels it into pipes and basins leading to sewer treatment plants, or in the case of a big storm, into the closest body of water.

New construction must take care of its own storm water “in situ,” that is on its own place (read: property). The simple truth is that there is less and less land to capture the falling rain. Even the storm drains have limits. Note the recent NYC metropolitan area weather maps, where the more urban areas of the five boroughs and Long Island are more and more “Flash Flood Watch and Warning” alerts because there is no place for the water to go.

The people in charge of limiting the frequency and occurrence of flood watches and warnings should be the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. Unfortunately they do not understand the urgency or need for these protections. Actually it is the Mayor who is really in charge and should be the one held accountable; but for years Mayor’s have not listened to reason. I hear from a reliable source that as early as 1950-60 Robert Moses was advocating for some kind of stormwater treatment to protect all the beaches that he was creating, but even the then DEP equivalent would not listen.

In is a striking example of a project that could hold promise of creating a sustainable design – perhaps a platinum LEEDS credential — the DEP’s Croton Filtration Plant, a major industrial complex to clean water, will instead discharge millions of gallons of groundwater and stormwater pollutants onto parkland, violating an inalienable right of the Public Trust Doctrine to forever preserve parkland for the people. That the City continues to act without boundaries, by first going to the Legislature to alienate 24 acres of land to build a 9 acre facility, and then taking more than they first stated, is arbitrary and capricious.

It is akin to building your house on the full lot size and then using your neighbor’s land to go to the back door, or park your car. While some golf courses consider greens and water features as amenities, a “roof-turned-into-a-putting-range” and a “stormwater-moat-turned-into-a-settling-basin” by any other name is not an amenity but a necessity. The current design is not sustainable, violates stormwater regulations, and crosses the alienation lines taking land away from the Golf Tees, causing them to reclaim land given to the people many years before.

Go back to the drawing board and stay within your boundaries!

Karen Argenti

Jun
22nd

22 Questions to the FMC and the DEP by Karen Argenti, June 18, 2009

22 Questions to the FMC and the DEP by Karen Argenti, June 18, 2009

  1. Why is the Demonstration Building surrounded by a chain link, not an opaque fence as required by law? Why is this temporary building standing, if the Buildings Department permit approved demolition in January 2009?[1]
  2. Why are there depressions in the roadway on Goulden Avenue at various work sites extending from Sedgwick to 205th Street where the DEP contractor dug up and filled in?
  3. Can you specify the new “information not previously available” as mentioned in the Minor Modification (MM) on page 2 that you received to make changes to the work at the Jerome Park Reservoir (JPR)?[2] Why has work stopped on the sound barrier?
  4. Can you provide access to review all geologist reports for JPR?
  5. Can you reference the page in Table 1 for the project element discussion “As Discussed in the Final SEIS” as well as the “As Currently Proposed (Minor Modification)?
  6. Can you reference the page in the old FSEIS[3] referenced on page 9 of the MM[4] when you compare the work proposed in the FSEIS to the new work for the south basin ramp?
  7. What other alternatives did you review in the site and the method of excavation for the Shaft and Meter Chamber?
  8. What other alternatives did you review for the site and construction of the ramp for the south basin, such as attached to the dividing wall?
  9. Where in the FSEIS did you study the impact of the construction of the south basin ramp, as well as the traffic impact for its use?
  10. Where are the plans for the Outdoor Urban Ecology Lab (OUEL)?
  11. Where are DEP’s plans for the restoration of the Harris Park Annex after the work is completed?
  12. Where is the geologist report mentioned on page 15 of the MM?
  13. Why did the city claim[5] the community’s court case was not ripe in August 2008, when it already had a complete statement of the process in an addendum to the original Cultural Resources Assessments related to CRO-313 and CRO-312OS with a state agency (no more an interested party than the public or the court) and made an agreement concerning impacts?[6]
  14. What is the basis for holding executive sessions of the FMC? All public bodies must hold meetings open to the public unless certain reasons for executive sessions apply.[7]
  15. Where is the public participation for the evacuation plan as stated in the document you provided to the EPA?[8]
  16. What is the timeline and status of the work on the pipeline from the plant to the Hunts Point Dewatering Plant?
  17. When is the DEP’s hearing for the MM?
  18. When will the FMC meet during the summer?
  19. Can the community have input in the plans for the vacated Jerome Avenue Pumping Station, and when will it be offline?
  20. Where are the permits posted for the work ongoing at JPR?
  21. Will the DEP discuss these projects at the DSC of the affected community boards and/or borough board?
  22. What is the status of the park work at JPR?


[1] See the following link for the permit to demolish January 15, 2009, with no asbestos abatement and pre-demolition inspection of February 27, 2009 http://a810-bisweb.nyc.gov/bisweb/JobsQueryByNumberServlet?requestid=2&passjobnumber=210107819&passdocnumber=01

[2] Minor Modification of April 2009, page 2: “Since completion of the Final SEIS, design has progressed to the final design and, as is typical for large scale and complex engineering projects, some changes to the preliminary design and proposed construction methods were made based on information that was previously not available.” (emphasis added)

[3] There was no work proposed for the South Basin Ramp in the Final SEIS JPR. It stated in section 8.2.1.4 that: “The Microstrainer Building would be demolished, and the area would be landscaped and kept open for a potential access ramp to the bottom of the Reservoir’s south basin.

[4] MM, page 9: “The Final SEIS proposed that an access ramp to the South Basin be constructed in the vicinity of Gate House No. 6. …………… Construction of the South Basin Ramp, adjacent to Gate House No. 6 along the western wall of the Reservoir, is proposed for inclusion under Contract CRO-312OS.”

[6] MM, page 15: “In response to a July 28, 2008 addendum to the roginal Cultural Resouces Assessments, related to Contract CRO-313 and CRO-312OS work on the SMC, the OPRHP accepted the finding that a controlled blasting program can be developed that would minimize impacts to historic resources, and also agreed that there would be no adverse impact so archelogical or architectural resources (OPRHP, September 5, 2008 included in Attachment A).

[7] http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lgss/pdfs/public.pdf See page 2 for info on the Executive Sessions.

[8] RMP Database: rtknet.org The Right to Know Network, the DEP stated: “If there is an accidental release, we will immediately call for emergency response to minimize the effect of the release and notify the public of any actions necessary to ensure public protection, through the City emergency management agencies.” Emphasis added

Jun
11th

Can anyone tell us what is going on at the Filtration Plant?

Rumors abound as to whether or not the DEP is going beyond, (yes you heard right, beyond) the LINES OF ALIENATION that they so wisely drew many many (it seems like centuries) ago.

As a reminder, here is what they proposed last November (check the category – Van Cortlandt Park):

http://www.waterblogged.org/design-commission-meets-today-on-golf-course-plan-to-take-the-peoples-park/

http://www.waterblogged.org/the-dep-is-at-it-again-taking-more-land-than-is-alienated/

Here is what the architect put in a professional newspaper:

http://archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=3231