Also read: The Multi-Million Dollar Question: Yorktown Sewer Plans Hinge on Costs

YORKTOWN, N.Y. – A month after it held an informational meeting on the prospect of extending sewers in the Hallocks Mill Sewer District to properties that continue to rely on septic systems, the Town Board last week took its first step toward that goal by declaring its intent to act as the lead agency in compliance with state regulations.

At a special meeting convened by the governing body on June 12, current and former experts in engineering and planning advised the board on the process it would need to undertake as it seeks to apply a $10 million grant in its efforts to meet New York City’s directive to reduce phosphorous in stormwater runoff entering its drinking water at the Croton Reservoir.

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According to an engineering evaluation, the sewer district comprises 5,200 tax parcels, 3,600 of which are connected to the municipal sewer system. Of the remainder, 200 parcels are undeveloped and 1,400 rely on septic systems.

Town Engineer Michael Quinn and engineering consultants GHD of Cazenovia, which was retained in 2017 to prepare an engineering and schematic design report to extend sewer service in the district, identified six sub-areas comprising 660 parcels and prioritized them as follows: Birch Street, with 340 parcels; Sparkle Lake, with 69 parcels; Sunrise Street, with 26 parcels; Ridge Street, with 175 parcels; Broadview, with 50 parcels, and Carolina Road, with 25 parcels.

However, with an average of 1.2 million gallons of wastewater being treated per day, the Greenwood Street treatment plant’s capacity for new hookups could accommodate only 300,000 gallons of the 450,000 gallons necessary to connect all the parcels in this study area. Accordingly, Quinn said, the Yorktown Heights Water Pollution Control Plant could handle the wastewater of only up to 450 of the 1,400 parcels in the district that are developed but unsewered. Consequently, the town also must seek a permit to increase the discharge limit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

While the town has received preliminary approval for a $10 million allocation from the Westchester Watershed Committee and Westchester County for the build-out of the Hallocks Mill Sewer District, GHD estimates the full cost would range from $34 million to $40 million; hence, it has advised the town to take a “phased approach.”

In conjunction with the proposed extension, the town plans to implement improvements to the Crystal Lake Pump Station, which serves the district. Improvements would include the replacement of mechanical equipment and an emergency generator.

In a phone interview on Monday, July 23, Supervisor Ilan Gilbert called the town’s effort to sewer properties in the district that rely on septic systems “a labor-intensive process.” By declaring the board’s intent to act as a lead agency at its meeting on Tuesday, July 17, he said, the town is now able to seek funding to supplement the $10 million allocation, such as matching grants from the state.

In fact, Gilbert partly attributed the town’s failure to undertake the project sooner to the complexity of the process.

Now, Gilbert said, “We continue to do our due diligence, speaking to residents and devising a plan. We’ll have to come up with different methods of calculation, depending on whether we get additional grant money or we don’t; how much it’s going to cost.

“You have to eventually come up with numbers that you can take to residents and say this is how much it’s going to cost the town to do this project, do you want to buy in?”

To proceed with the build-out, he said, a majority of residents must “buy in.”