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Millwood Sewer Debate Continues

MILLWOOD, N.Y. – More than a year after the initial petition to expand New Castle’s sewer district to include Yeshiva, Random Farms, Riverwoods and Chappaqua Crossing was presented, many Millwood residents are still calling for their hamlet to be added to the petition.

Detractors of bringing public sewers to Millwood have said the hamlet is not eligible for New York City DEP money to pay for the cost as its business district because it is not directly in the Croton watershed. Hala Makowska, West End resident and chair of the Millwood Board of Fire Commissioners, refuted those claims at a recent Millwood Task Force meeting.

Presenting a map of Millwood at Thursday night’s meeting, Makowska said the Vesce property, the old Millwood firehouse, Devereux Learning Center and other properties are in the watershed and would benefit from new sewers.

“If you actually could release the value and change the uses of the property away from being parking lots and scaffolding storage and wood storage into something that has higher value, the tax base could increase,” said Makowska. “I think it could help keep Millwood vibrant.”

While Millwood Task Force member Donald Weisstuch agreed that the physical square footage of the business district may be in the watershed, he said many of those properties are not part of the prime existing retail district.

“In my humble opinion, the properties you mentioned have so many constraints on them that their development potential is exceedingly limited. These are constraints above and beyond the fact that they don’t have public sewers,” said Weisstuch. ”I would not make the statement that the majority of the business district is in the watershed.”

Weisstuch said that sewers would likely be helpful, but added that it might not make fiscal sense as some of Millwood’s biggest businesses, such as A&P and Spacarelli’s, are not in the watershed or eligible for sewers.

“You need to have a certain critical mass of users in order to justify the capital investment,” he said. “Our problem is going to be getting that critical mass of users who can bare that capitol cost. That’s the real problem.”

Makowska said that adding affordable housing to Millwood would make fiscal sense and would help in getting the County's supports to add the hamlet to the petition. She recommended building the housing where the old firehouse is located.

In the coming weeks, Makowska will be surveying Millwood merchants to gauge the interest of bringing sewers to Millwood.

“If the Millwood business owners don’t want sewers, it’s not worth the fight.”

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