“You Have All Failed Us…”
By Cindy Goldstein -
This plea was included in a strongly worded email sent far and wide to Village officials and residents from the Washingtonville Neighborhood Association (WNA) on November 1 expressing frustration and disappointment that was palpable. See HERE. The Village of Mamaroneck and Town of Mamaroneck have faced off in an ongoing dispute over who pays for a police presence for traffic regulation during the construction of the long anticipated project which is expected to last for 10 months.
How It Started
It looked like everything was going smoothly. For weeks the public was made aware that the Waverly Avenue Bridge, in the heart of Washingtonville, was to be replaced by the Town of Mamaroneck – the owners of the bridge - and that motorists should slow down and drive responsibly around the construction zone. The $4.54 million undertaking was funded through two grants: $1.75 million from the NYS Department of Transportation BridgeNY program and $2.08 million from Westchester County’s Flood Mitigation grant program.
As of October 16, 2023 the Village of Mamaroneck was thanking their colleagues and partners at the Town of Mamaroneck for doing this important work that incorporated recommendations from the Army Corps of Engineers flood mitigation plan to improve roadway alignment, new sidewalks and help mitigate flooding in the area. See HERE.
After issuing a Road Opening permit on August 9, 2023, the Village Manager abruptly cancelled it on October 27th (just eleven days after the aforementioned positive newsletter post), removed the contractor’s barricades and demanded $750,000 to reimburse the Village for anticipated police overtime for traffic control for the full 10 months of construction.
What the Town Says
Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Jaine Elkind Eney in a written statement issued on November 1, 2023 before the Washingtonville Neighborhood Association email, outlines the timeline of what’s happened to date. See HERE. Here’s a summary:
· Since 2019 monthly design meetings were held and Village representatives attended most meetings
· Village staff also attended bi-weekly pre-construction meetings with the Town and
· Village representatives actively participated in these meetings commenting on signage, pavement markings and other prep work
· No mention of the Town paying for Village policing was ever made at the meetings
· Not until September 12, 2023 did the Mayor ask the Village Manager for a written agreement with the Town for police overtime for traffic control despite 4 years of joint meetings
· Instead, the Village Manager cancelled the previously issued street opening permit and stopped the project. He demanded the Town commit to a reimbursement of $728,000 of Village police overtime
Evidently no one communicated the request for police overtime reimbursement from the Town of Mamaroneck and it was never discussed during the 4 years of planning.
According to Eney, police details are not included in the NYS DOT standard specifications for Locally Administered Federal Aid projects such as the Waverly Avenue Bridge replacement. She states the Town made a reasonable proposal for a limited time of police presence during the start of construction, but this offer was rejected by the Village with no alternative proposed.
What the Village Says
The September 12, 2023 minutes from the Mamaroneck Village Board meeting show a budget amendment of $546,000 for fiscal year 2023-2024 and notes it will be reimbursed by the Town of Mamaroneck. See HERE pages 10-11. In contrast, the Village Manager asked for $728,000 from the Town of Mamaroneck despite initially seeking $750,000.
On November 2, there was a flurry of emails between the Town and Village in response to the WNA email. See HERE. Eney expressed frustration at the situation and promised the town is doing everything to resolve the matter quickly. Murphy’s response was that he offered a compromise on October 31 for which he says received no response until November 2 despite asking three times. He states that “The sticking point right now is who is required to make the next move.” He calls on the Supervisor to break the stalemate and for both parties to come to the table with realistic compromise offers “in writing, and hand them to each other simultaneously…” Murphy also mentions that the Town initially offered one month of police protection and lately has been talking about providing only two weeks.
Presumably both the full Village Board of Trustees and Town Board would have to approve any deal to move forward.
What Happens Next
The Town of Mamaroneck and the Village of Mamaroneck have a long history of cooperation and trust. Eney calls on the Village to return to this longstanding tradition of civility. It’s fair to say the public would agree.
As stated in the Washingtonville Neighborhood Association email: “Every minute wasted, you are placing us in harm’s way with a continued “RISK” of Flooding and a Bridge that is structurally deficient!”