By CHRIS EBERHART
Frank Sweeney is just one of many concerned residents in a north Eastchester neighborhood pushing back against a senior housing development proposal on Summerfield Street for the past two years.
Sweeney has lived on Lakeview Avenue for the past 40-plus years. Over that time, he’s watched the manhole cover at the intersection of Woodruff and Scarsdale avenues explode during heavy rain storms from his porch.
He—like many of his neighbors, who described the same manhole-popping phenomenon—is wondering how an already nearly full sanitary sewer system that needs mitigation work to handle the “increase in flows” does not have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
“It’s a long standing issue. Rain water and sewer lines come together because of cracks in the pipes and pop the manhole, and then you got sewer runoff in the street,” Sweeney said. “Without trying to be graphic, there’s human waste floating down the street.”
Hector DiLeo, Eastchester’s highway superintendent, said, “The manhole only pops off during really heavy rain and, most of the time, [the sewage] goes back into the sanitary sewer system. But there are times when it leads into the Bronx River. Doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.”
Nevertheless, a majority of the Eastchester Planning Board said there will be no significant environmental impact as a result of a senior housing development proposed for 151 Summerfield St., which looks to replace a defunct auto body shop with the 92-unit complex.
The Planning Board voted 3-1 for a negative declaration, meaning there will be no significant adverse impact on the environment, in regard to the project during its April 24 meeting, with board member Robert Pulaski as the lone dissenting vote citing height and density concerns.
The project’s developer is seeking 11 separate variances related to height, parking, impervious surface area, setbacks and density.
The board never publicly addressed the sanitary sewer system.
Mike Fasciglione, a neighbor of the project, said the sanitary sewer concerns were “swept under the table.”
Fasciglione, who has lived in his Woodruff Avenue residence since 1946, said, “After the negative declaration, I got the feeling this project was rubberstamped from the start and pushed through. They swept issues like the sewer system under the table…I’ve seen the manhole cover pop up, and it’s not just storm water waste, it’s human waste that runs down the street.”
Alvin Pilch from Evans Associates Environmental Consulting, Inc., which was hired by the town as an independent engineering consult, told the Review, “I don’t believe there is any significant adverse impact.”
In the same breath, Pilch said mitigation will be necessary to handle the “increase in flows.”
“We are requiring that the project implement a mitigation plan for the additional sanitary sewer flow,” Pilch said.
The project’s developer, DELV Development, pledged to pay for the mitigation project. There is no concrete plan in place, but the developer is working with DiLeo to create one.
Evans Associates Environmental Consulting, Inc. was scheduled to provide an independent analysis of the sanitary sewer system before the March 27 Planning Board meeting, but that analysis never came to fruition, which angered the neighbors of the proposed project.
Margaret Uhle, head of Eastchester’s Building Department, said a final memo was never prepared because DELV Development is “working on the design details/approach” to addressing the existing cracked pipes. She said Evans Associates met with DiLeo and has discussed possible approaches to remedying the issue.
The project now goes to the Zoning Board of Appeals. If the project is approved by the Zoning Board, it comes back to the Planning Board for final approval at which time the sanitary sewer mitigation plan being developed would then be vetted, according to town officials.
Fasciglione and Charles Galneck, another resident of the north Eastchester neighborhood, said an independent analysis of the sanitary sewer system should have been provided before a negative declaration was issued.
“They had this project on the drawing board for a while. They knew what they needed to do,” Galneck said. “There should’ve been a complete and independent analysis done as part of the package.”
The proposed project would connect the apartment’s pipes to the pipes under Montgomery Avenue, which leads to the intersection of Woodruff and Scarsdale avenues.
The pipes, according to a Feb. 11 report from John Meyer Consulting, which studied the area’s sanitary sewer system for the developer, are nearly full at certain points.
That study, which was obtained by the Review, states, “It seems that the [sanitary sewer] system is working at 85 to 90 percent of its capacity and, in times of rain and wet conditions, the system seems to be at maximum
That percentage will reach or exceed capacity on a more regular basis with the replacement of Ted Hermann’s Auto Body shop with a residential building.
The study states the auto body shop produces approximately 675 gallons of water per day, while the proposed project is estimated to generate approximately 14,650 gallons of additional flow per day, which will increase the total flow by between two to three percent, according to the study.
Much of the sanitary sewer flooding issues is the result of infiltration and inflow because of cracked pipes that cause the sanitary sewer and rain water lines to meet, according to Pilch.
Calls to the developer’s attorney, David Steinmetz, were not returned as of press time.