By Robert Press
BRONX, NEW YORK, June 25– The Croton Water Filtration Plant that is being constructed in Van Cortlandt Park is slowly coming to a finish. Now budgeted at over $3,000,000,000.00 (that is right over THREE BILLION DOLLARS) it should be on line early in 2013. This federal mandated project to filter the Croton Water originally was budgeted for $600,000.00 in the early 1990s under then Mayor David Dinkins. The proposed site was the Jerome Park Reservoir, and through the land use process was defeated by the local communities that banded together. So how did this wind up in Van Cortlandt Park two mayors later?
The federal Government under its mandate said that the city would be fined $25,000.00 per day each day that the Croton Water System was not being filtered. By the way filtration of the Croton System is needed was said, as the Croton water was not meeting new federal standards for clean drinking water. You should also know that the Croton Water System is used mainly in times of droughts, and less than 10 percent of the NYC water supply comes from the Croton Water System that has been off line for the past two years. This was not a matter of importance until Mike Bloomberg was elected mayor. Bloomberg decided that it is better to build a filtration plant than get fined every day, but where could this be built?
After coming up with a figure of $200,000,000.00 as part of the water filtration plant price that was offered to the Bronx state legislatures for improvements to borough wide Bronx Parks for their approval of the project the deal was done. Learning from the previous mayor's mistake of involving the community Mayor Bloomberg (as we have seen in several other city projects) wanted no opposition to this project, and had as small a monitoring committee as he could. One representative from each of the three community boards (the chair or their representative) that border VCP, one each from the borough president and local councilman, a parks department and a DEP representative and that was it. The chairmanship of this committee would shift every year so that each of the three community board chairs would chair the committee. We are not going to get into the community board chairs and how they are supposedly running the meetings, but we do miss Father Richard Gorman of CB 12 as the chair of the committee that was rotated recently.
The big issues now are a pedestrian bridge over the Deegan Highway that seems to have been part of the deal to build in VCP, and the $45,000,000.00 estimate of the restoration of the golf clubhouse on which the plant sits. Also the DEP wants to go to meetings every three months rather than monthly meetings as they say the plant is almost finished. The next meeting is scheduled for September and both Councilman G. Oliver Koppell and the representative from the borough Presidents office have said that they agree with the three community board chairs that there should be monthly meetings, and will speak to the commissioner of DEP on it.
On another note the six-month old Kingsbridge Road Merchants Association held its first “Unity in the Community Festival” event this past Saturday. This was a good was to see and meet the exhibitors that were there, and take in the entertainment that was provided. We hope to see the 2nd Annual “Unity in the Community Festival” next year. You can go to my blog at www.100percentbronx.blogspot.com to read more and see photos of the event.
If you have any comments about this column or would like to have an event listed or covered in this column or on my blog you can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 718-644-4199 Mr. Robert Press.