RESPONSE TO VILLAGE OF MAMARONECK TOWN MANAGER’S 10/23/2023 REPORT
The Town of Mamaroneck believes it is necessary to respond to the Village of Mamaroneck Village Manager’s report to the Village Board on 10/23/2023 to provide FACTual information regarding Town operations, as it is detrimental to all of our residents to be provided with inaccurate information from a local official.
Waverly Avenue Bridge
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has identified the Waverly Avenue Bridge as being structurally deficient.
Engineering consultants retained by the Town recommended, for public safety, that the bridge be rebuilt and, for flood mitigation purposes, that it be widened at the same time, as the bridge is located at a constriction point that exacerbates flooding. This is consistent with the Army Corp of Engineers Flood Risk Management Report Recommendations for the Sheldrake River.
The Town, as the owner of the Bridge, is undertaking a $4.54 million project to replace the Bridge.
The Town’s contractor commenced work on October 20, 2023, by installing the necessary barricades at the Bridge. The Village has, without permission of the Town, removed the barricades and directed our Contractor not to continue work unless their demand that the Town commit to reimbursing up to $728,000 to the Village for police overtime for traffic control is satisfied. The amount appears out of line and unjustified, and an unreasonable burden which will be borne by all taxpayers of the Town of Mamaroneck, including the residents of both Villages.
The Village had four years prior to the commencement of the project on October 20, 2023 to address the issue of police staffing for the regulation of traffic, but they said nothing.
Here is the timeline:
- Four years ago, commencing in November 2019, monthly design meetings were held with our consultant, HVEA Engineers. Village representatives were present at most of these monthly meetings.
- Starting on July 7, 2023, the Town held bi-weekly pre-construction meetings with our Contractor. Members of the staff of the Village were always present. The Village actively participated in the meetings, commenting on issues such as signage, pavement markings, and other prep work. The issue of the Town paying for police was never raised at the meetings.
- The Village issued a Road Opening permit to the Town for the construction of the Bridge on August 9, 2023. Although it contained a number of conditions, it made no mention of the Town paying for police presence for the regulation of traffic.
- The Town just learned that, at the September 12, 2023, Village Board Work Session, the Mayor asked the Village Manager to enter into a written arrangement with the Town for police overtime for traffic control, but the Village Manager never contacted the Town to do so. The Village was silent for four (4) years.
Why did they wait until AFTER work commenced to address the issue of police presence for the regulation of traffic, shutting down a project that took years to plan and that is important for public safety and flood mitigation?
The Town recognizes the importance of traffic control in the affected area. We are attempting to resolve the situation; however, the Mamaroneck Village Manager has refused to attend meetings between the Town and Village. Instead, he sent representatives who do not have final decision-making authority.
Bridge reconstruction often is done without the presence of the police. The recent reconstruction of the Hillside Avenue bridge in the Village of Mamaroneck is an example. In fact, our consultant told us that police details are not included in the NYSDOT standard specifications for Locally Administered Federal Aid projects, such as the Waverly Avenue Bridge. Furthermore, the NYSDOT does not provide the option to request long term police details on their own sponsored projects where a road is to be closed for any length of time.
Nonetheless, the Town made a reasonable proposal for a police presence, at Town expense, for a limited period of time while the public becomes accustomed to the closure of the bridge and starts using alternate routes, but the Village rejected it out of hand, without proposing an alternative.
The Town is attempting to resolve this issue expeditiously for the benefit of the community but needs cooperation from the Village to do so.
The Town and the Village have a long history of working together for the benefit of our residents, even when we did not agree on an issue. We call upon the Village to resume this longstanding tradition of civility.
Section 8 and Affordable Housing
The Town of Mamaroneck eliminated the administrative functions of the Section 8 housing voucher program provided by the Community Services Department via resolution of the Town Board on March 15, 2023. The effective date was June 30, 2023. These functions were transferred to the State of New York which, in turn, contracted with CVR, a local agency to administer the Section 8 program. The residents of the Town are now served by an organization that specializes in managing this type of program. This is just an administrative function transfer, as all benefits available to the participants will remain the same through this federal program.
On March 21, 2023, the Town Administrator sent an email to the Mamaroneck Village Manager notifying him that effective July 1, 2023, the Town was transferring the Section 8 program to the State of New York and that the Town’s only remaining “affordable housing” administration obligation was for the Cambium apartments. There were also various calls made to discuss this change. At no point did anyone from the Village of Mamaroneck indicate to the Town a desire to take back the Section 8 program. Even if there had been a declared desire for the Village to resume the administration of the Section 8 housing voucher program, “HUD” regulations would not permit that option. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) considers a transfer of operations to be a permanent action.
Thus, the FACT is that the Village’s resolution on 09/08/2008 to transfer its Section 8 Housing Voucher program to the Town of Mamaroneck, effective December 31, 2008, is irreversible.
Various emails and calls were shared regarding the Village of Mamaroneck’s contention that the Town had further affordable housing related obligations, however, the only support for the contention provided by the Village Manager was a section of the Village Code, not the Town Code. The Village Manager’s report to the Board indicates that the Village Code designated the Town as the entity to work with developers to market and place people into affordable housing units.
The FACT is that no agreement existed between the Town and Village to provide any more than the Section 8 Housing Voucher program and there is no Town Board resolution or Local Law by which the Town agreed to undertake affordable housing related obligations for the Village.
The FACT is that the request was continually made of the Village to provide evidence of such agreement between the two communities and none was provided.
The Village Manager’s statement in his 10/23/2023 report to the Village Board indicated that almost 100% of the housing program participants are Village of Mamaroneck residents who must now deal with state offices and not a local office.
The FACT is that as of January 2023, approximately 59% of the participants were from outside the Town boundaries, including both villages. It should be noted, as well, that no matter the program that offers the vouchers, they can be used in any community that has available units for eligible participants. Resident preference is not permitted under this program.
The FACT is that the entity now administering the Section 8 Housing Voucher program is CVR, which is an agency located in White Plains, which serves all County residents. As was the case even when the Town handled the program, the vast majority of correspondence with program participants or those looking for vouchers has been handled by regular mail, email or phone to the best of the Town’s knowledge. There is little or no impact to the participant based on the office location.
Lastly, the Village Manager also stated in his comments that the “office is now focused on transportation and seniors, not the poor of our community.”
The FACT is that the senior citizen services that used to be handled out of the Community Services Department had been transferred to the Recreation Department in September of 2022 prior to the closure of the Community Services Department. One issue has nothing to do with the other and the accusation that the Town does not care about “the poor” as the Village Manager said is just ludicrous.
The FACT is that the Town cares greatly about all residents, including those of both villages.
The Village Manager stated that he believes the Town illegally abolished the Board of Control because he knows “firsthand that the Town Administration did not think there was value in LMC Media services due to “cutting the cord” with cable TV opinion …” The Town Administration has no idea what the Village Manager is referring to in his statement.
The FACT is that the Town Board, on advice of counsel, does not believe the 1982 CATV Sharing Agreement (“Agreement”) is still in effect after the withdrawal of the Village of Larchmont and the expiration of the franchise agreements.
The FACT is that this agreement was in place prior to the existence of LMC Media and does not contain provisions for jointly funding any cable operations.
The FACT is that the agreement speaks only to a coordinated interaction and negotiation of the cable franchise agreement covering the Town of Mamaroneck, Village of Mamaroneck and Village of Larchmont.
The FACT is that the Town was more than willing to negotiate with the service providers alongside the Village of Mamaroneck, however, the Town believes the agreements should be individual to each community and the franchise fees and “PEG” funds (funds for cable equipment) should be distributed separately to each community. Both the Town and the Village will receive their respective franchise fees directly from each provider going forward.
The FACT is that the Town Board has never discussed the cessation of funding to LMC Media for the provision of municipal cable services.
The FACT is that both the Town and the Village can then determine individually the provision of funding to support municipal broadcasting based on their individual needs and requested services.
The FACT is that all of our residents will continue to have access to municipal broadcasts.
Although not mentioned in the Village Manager’s report,
the FACT is that the Town will not be honoring the Village Manager’s request to be paid his $8,500 stipend to serve as the Administrator of the Board of Control. That compensation is a component of his employment agreement with the Village.
Should the public wish to receive FACTual information about Town services, we would encourage signing up for our email blasts from the Town website www.townofmamaroneckny.org, emailing applicable Town staff and watching the Town Board meetings that will, in FACT, continue to be broadcast.