In a unanimous and bipartisan vote, the Croton Village Board of Trustees approved the acquisition of two properties on Route 129 to serve as the future combined home of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Water Department.
The new facility will provide our DPW with the space needed to store vehicles indoors, and to perform maintenance and repairs more efficiently and quickly. Critically, it will allow the Village to remove the Water Department (currently on Pumphouse Road) and the DPW (currently located at the train station) out of known flood plains.
No other site we reviewed could have done all of the above. Successive administrations and boards have researched how to best house the DPW. The new site represents the best of a limited range of options for a community like our, with constrained boundaries and limited developable space.
The Village is acquiring the Route 129 property at below the appraised value. In addition, moving the DPW to the new site will free up over 100 parking spaces at the train station parking lot. With a waitlist of some 300 names needing parking, there is little doubt that these spaces will be snatched up and produce new revenue for the Village. Furthermore, with the expiration of some older bonds, the Village will be able to finance the new DPW site without increasing the overall Village debt.
Every decision has its pros and cons–and this one is no exception. The Route 129 property is located a little over a mile from the Village border–subjecting it to property taxes to the Town of Cortlandt and the Croton-Harmon School District, increasing travel time, and raising questions of emergency response.
Thankfully, the Village staff has succeeded in anticipating and mitigating many of these issues. The Village has successfully negotiated for an 80% reduction in the tax assessment for the property. And the Superintendent of Public Works will direct equipment to be prepositioned within the Village in advance of a storm or other forecasted natural disaster.
There have been some high-profile criticism of the new DPW site. But as officials elected to make decisions on behalf of all of us, we cannot shy away from controversial choices. We must think of the long-term interests of the community, make the decision we think is best and be held accountable.
As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points…where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds.”