Deputy Town Supervisor Adam M. Brodsky Comments Regarding the Chappaqua Hamlet Streetscape and Infrastructure 5/10/17
As we are about to embark on one of the largest public works projects in recent New Castle history, I thought it would be helpful to look at the steps we have taken to get here, thank the people involved and examine how the project has evolved up to this point.
After much discussion over many years, the previous Town Board rolled up its sleeves and got to work in the Spring of 2015, when we enlisted the services of the international engineering firm WSP to help us design and layout both the infrastructure and streetscape for the Hamlet. The previous Town Board then created a Streetscape Committee in the Summer of 2015 which I chaired, made up of members of the Architectural Review Board, Beatification Board, Chamber of Commerce, merchants, residents and Town staff. We met many times including taking several field trips and giving serious consideration to the overall theme of our Hamlet and making it as pedestrian friendly as possible. All with the understanding that we must be fiscally responsible with the tax dollars of our residents.
I understand that many residents are focusing on the aesthetics of the project, but it important to recognize that the genesis of this project is for infrastructure replacement. Our nearly century old water mains are years beyond their design life of 75 years. Sewer mains, installed over 50 years ago, are corroding from the outside in from sitting in acidic and unstable soil. This shift in the position of the main and manholes has contributed to the spike in sewer blockages which wreak havoc on our downtown businesses. This is evidenced by the pricing of the project — approximately two-thirds of the cost and over a hundred pages of plans are dedicated to the piping under the ground.
In accordance with the required municipal procedures, back in March the plans for our project were sent out to bid. We received five qualified bids. On April 21st, the bids were opened and they ranged in price from approximately $14 million to $19 million dollars. ELQ Industries, Inc. was the lowest responsible bidder. This was an open and public process, as is customary and required. Early in the process, we also retained a project manager, Boswell Engineering, to help us review the bids and negotiate with the lowest responsible bidder. That proved to be a wise move.
The bids came in higher than we had forecast and Town staff along with Boswell Engineering and WSP have been working with ELQ to tailor the project to meet the Town’s fiscal realities and stay within the State of New York tax cap.
In addition, evidencing the complexity of this project, we also had to submit the plans to New York State and Westchester County who own parts of the roadways in Downtown for their permission to preform construction. We received numerous comments from the State many dealing with ADA compliance and corrections to the plans. The State has been very cooperative in efficiently helping us through their permitting process. After updates to the plans the State is allowing us to now move forward and is merely waiting on the insurance from our contractor to issue a construction permit. We are still finalizing the details with the County and we hope to complete that process imminently. However, this will not hold up commencement of work.
Now I want to discuss the specific large items that have been proposed to be removed from the overall scope so that resident will understand that the overall project will still be beautiful and transformative for the Hamlet. There are other smaller items that I won’t get into here.
1) We have removed the improvements to the intersection of Washington Avenue and South Greeley Avenue. Approx. cost savings $370,000;
2) We have removed the improvements of Marion Place, which was redone not very long ago. Approx. cost savings $210,000.
3)We have removed the pergola structure at the base of Lower King. Approx. cost savings $40,000
4)We had hoped to extend the sidewalks several hundred feet past the historic society but now the new sidewalk will terminate just beyond the historical society: Approx. cost savings: $285,000
5) We had hoped to extend the sidewalks from Maple Avenue to Bischoff Avenue but now the new sidewalk will terminate just beyond the post office: Approx. cost savings: $222,000
6) Concrete Tinting. Cost savings: $412,000
There are other aspects that have been removed from the contract such as street furniture and plaques that we feel we can purchase outside the construction contract at lower cost.
All the major and cornerstone elements remain just to name a few:
Wider sidewalks with brick accents and granite curbing, trees, streetlamps, our new clock, full ADA compliance, a traffic light at the intersection of King and Greeley, our new plaza at King and Greeley and many, many other aspects.
I also want to briefly touch on the Triangle Intersection that many residents have inquired about. This intersection is owned and controlled by New York State, so the Town is limited in its decision-making ability regarding its design. However, the Town Board understands the importance of this intersection, and we spent significant time and resources to identify improvements that we could present to the State for consideration. We studied a “T” configuration, a rotary, and a reconfiguration into a teardrop with a modification to the traffic flow. All these ideas were either impractical because of the geography, rejected by the State, or determined to be inferior to what we currently have. Believe me, it is not as a result of a lack of imagine or effort but the reality of the topography of the Hamlet. In fact, many of these ideas were discussed during the construction of the new bridge and the same conclusion was unfortunately reached.
After all of the hard work, I am disappointed that for fiscal reasons, minor reductions in the scope were required, but I am confident that the residents will love the overall finished product. This is a massive project. Downtown Chappaqua will receive a new and upgraded sanitary sewer, storm water and water mains, as well as new sidewalks, lighting, and charming new public spaces. Most importantly, this work will include new crosswalks and traffic/parking improvements that will make it safer to walk around our Downtown especially for our youngest residents.
I would add that while this is exciting it comes with inconvenience and we will do our best to minimize the disruption. I know some residents are already experiencing this inconvenience with the preliminary gas line replacement work currently being done by Con Ed. To help mitigate these issue our construction management firm will be located in our hamlet in the former EZ Sports space and will have a 24/7 presence. We’re keeping our merchants informed of project scheduling, and we will be keeping everyone informed and safe during construction. Go to www.DowntownStrong.com to find out more about the project. You can also sign-up for project updates.
It’s time to get this done, within the tax cap, and the residents will be thrilled with the results. This project will improve the overall aesthetic of our Chappaqua Hamlet and finally provide us with an infrastructure platform that will allow our Downtown to grow and prosper.