YORKTOWN, N.Y. - It was an issue that raised a stink between neighboring municipalities about 10 years ago, and after lying dormant for a while, it has now bubbled again to the surface.
Yorktown officials are hopeful the political climate locally, and among Westchester County representatives, has changed to allow them to divert 200,000 of the 1.1 million gallons of sewage treated daily at its Hallocks Mill plant to the Peekskill Water Treatment Plant.
Town Engineer Sharon Robinson said diverting some of the sewage would alleviate pressure on Yorktown's plant, which, during wet weather, is often strained. When diversion was not approved, Yorktown upgraded its plant, but now its approximately 50-year-old pump stations are in need of replacement, and the town is looking at an estimated $6 million expense.
"New Castle was in the same boat 10 years ago and they were approved to go to Yonkers, so maybe there is a chance," Robinson said of diversion.
Former Supervisor Susan Siegel said she spoke with Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster recently about diversion, and that Foster said she didn't want to give up any of the available capacity at the county facility. That angered Councilman Terrence Murphy, who accused Siegel of "talking behind our backs."
"It's not her decision," Councilman Dave Paganelli said of Foster.
"Why do we constantly have to kowtow to Peekskill?" Supervisor Michael Grace said. "If you're not somewhat bold about it, nothing will change. Twenty years ago, Peekskill would have let this (diversion) go if they received $1 million."
Foster said Wednesday that no official from Yorktown or the county has reached out to Peekskill about sewage diversion.
"When Supervisor Grace says there is the political will to do this, I don't know where that's coming from," she said.
Grace is planning to set up a meeting in the near future with county legislators John Testa, R-Peekskill; Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers; and Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining; and George Oros, County Executive Rob Astorino's chief of staff and former longtime legislator who opposed diversion in the past.
In addition, Yorktown officials will be inquiring about the possibility of tapping into some of the $10 million set aside in a so-called East of Hudson Fund for environmental and clean-water improvements.
Attempts to reach Testa, a former Peekskill mayor, were unsuccessful.