November 3, 2022
Mayor’s Message (Critical Infrastructure and Orange County I.D.A. Edition):
Dear Cornwall-on-Hudson residents, neighbors, and friends:
This probably serves as the most important message, to date, I have shared with you as the mayor. As our Village department heads can attest, I acknowledge a long-held leader axiom which directs: “Bad news comes to me immediately and good news can wait until Monday morning.” I share immediate news regarding Cornwall’s aging critical infrastructure. The Department of Homeland Security identifies sixteen sectors as “critical infrastructure.” Two of them – 1) Water and Wastewater Systems and 2) Dams Sector within the Village of Cornwall-on-Hudson and Town of Cornwall require some immediate attention. Let me outline concerns and remediation plans one by one:
Firstly, please review the three attached photos of pipes that deliver water to greater Cornwall customers. Photo one depicts a failed section of 10” water main recently replaced under Hudson Street. The pipe is cast iron and was installed in 1895. Note the fissure. Twenty-five percent of our 52 miles of Cornwall water piping is 1895 vintage.
Photo two depicts failed section of 1927-installed 2” piping riddled with holes and replaced along Chestnut Street.
And finally, photo three, which highlights sediment and sludge built up within a section of 2” piping laid in1955. Should this not concern all of us?
So, what to do about it? Well, the Village Board of Trustees recently approved an expenditure of funds to have our engineers draft a comprehensive plan to include recommendations related to immediate and future required maintenance, an assessment of necessary capital improvements, and suggested funding sources. It will serve as a priority roadmap to ensure timely and necessary repairs and upgrades BEFORE we endure yet another failure of mains and connective piping. This places us in a proactive – rather than a reactive or defensive – posture. It also includes our dams. Cornwall is supplied water through two primary sources (five reservoirs and a well field) that have allowed us to avoid, of recent, having to draw water from the New York Aqueduct.
Yet, the reservoirs have to remain drawn-down to lower levels because of the aging, decrepit, failing dams that support them. This is not hyperbole when I advise that in some places (Ex: Sphagnum Reservoir), the dam is supported by plywood and 2x4 “reinforcements.” This is wholly unacceptable. Yet, repairs to that dam could cost upwards of a million and a half dollars. No easy fix and nothing cheap about necessary repairs.
And finally, regarding our wastewater (sewer) system – speaking of Cornwall-on-Hudson – the “mapping” of our sewers consists of photocopied, spiral-bound notebook paper with hand drawn lines connecting manhole covers. Not exactly 21st century technology. We have also noted several sections within the Village where sewage backups have become more frequent. How are we tackling this issue? Firstly, there are some immediate needs to install “benches” within a number of manholes in order to better direct water flow and
ensure enough velocity for sewage movement. I will ask the Village Board to support emergency contingency funding (we have a budget line) for this effort. Longer-term plans will include gaining Board support to include, in the soon-to-be compiled 2023-2024 budget, a similar engineers-conducted sewer project (akin to the ongoing water system evaluation), which should include mapping that is more recent than some ninety years.
Final-final note on our wastewater/sewer system: As I toured the “pleasant” environs of popped, problematic manhole covers this past week, the “aromatic splendors” were somewhat exacerbated by VISIBLE clogs attributed to baby wipes. Friends and neighbors, PLEASE, ignore the hype – there does not currently exist a “flushable wipe.” Help your neighbors avoid a backup of sewage into their home because you chose to flush baby wipes, Clorox wipes, Lysol wipes, baby diapers, or a giraffe. Enough said.
The issues and remedies outlined above are all time-consuming and costly. Costs should be borne out over time and intelligently triaged. As I committed when I ran for this position, I will ensure we are actively engaged on these issues. And I will make certain we are exploring available funding sources – beyond tax dollars – wherever/whenever available.
Okay, that completes the “bad news” upfront.
Now, some good news. Bill Fioravanti, the CEO of Orange County’s Industrial Development Agency, has graciously agreed to make a short presentation (similar to the one he recently delivered at the October meeting of the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages, and Cities) that will help demystify the processes and rubric that is applied to IDA decisions regarding tax abatements. This may help bust some of the myths about the IDA’s dealings and residents will be able to view, via our livestream, the presentation when delivered at 7:00pm at the Village Board business meeting on Monday, November 21, 2022. Following the presentation, there will be a short Q&A between Mr. Fioravanti and the Village Board. Make certain to catch this in person or view online. Note: Currently, there are no Cornwall or COH matters for consideration before the IDA.
Lastly, I am thrilled to announce that, yet again, the Town and Village have made a commitment to work together, this time in relation to our observances of Winterfest and the Holiday Season – to include our two Christmas Tree lightings. Only details I can share now are the date: Sunday, December 4, 2022 and the volunteer committees participating: Greater Cornwall Chamber of Commerce, the Cornwall Youth Committee, Main Street Committee, Storm King Engine 2 and Highland Engine Company1. Stay tuned for exciting developments and details soon shared by Supervisor Wojehowski and yours truly.
On behalf of your Village Board,
Mayor James A. “Jimmy” Gagliano