Village considers dredging machine purchase


The Board of Trustees is deciding whether or not to purchase a silt removal machine in an attempt to maintain local waterways such as the Mamaroneck River, pictured, or contract out for the work as other municipalities do. Photo/Ashley Helms

The Village of Mamaroneck may purchase a silt removal machine to aid in mitigating flooding and help maintain local waterways, but the decision of whether to buy its own equipment or continue to contract out for the work as other municipalities do remains under review.

Currently, village management said there isn’t a place to adequately store a dredging machine should the board decide to buy one.

Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff said the village must do a cost-benefit analysis on the possibility of buying the machine. The village is undergoing a general reevaluation report by the Army Corps of Engineers, which will make recommendations on how to mitigate flooding and deepen river channels. Removing silt will not interfere with the study, but if the village goes forward will any of the Army Corps’ suggestions, it will be Mamaroneck’s responsibility to maintain the waterways.

Village Trustee Leon Potok, a Democrat, said that the village has to consider how much buying the machine would cost. He said there is currently nowhere to store a purchased dredging machine because the village is “jammed for space.” The machine would only be used about 200 hours per year and, while village workers could be trained to operate it, none of them possess those skills now, Potok said, whereas a professional dredging company would be better at doing the job than someone who only does it for a fraction of time every year.

“We need a better analysis of the options,” he said. “What are the full costs? Or do we continue with the alternative, which is we go to third parties who have machines and people who do it on a full-time basis.”

A dredging machine must be driven into a body of water and operates by scooping out the silt from the bottom. Problem areas in the village include the Mamaroneck River by the North Barry Avenue and Fennimore Road bridges.

In 2008, the Town of Harrison bought a dredging machine in order to mitigate flooding, but sold it to Woodbridge, N.J. after just one use, after which it remained dormant for years before it was sold in 2012. The $243,000 piece of equipment, which included a trailer and attachments, was sold for just $90,000.

If the Village of Mamaroneck bought a machine and had to resell it, Potok said that it would surely have to be sold for less, similar to what happened in Harrison. Potok said he doesn’t have a conclusion on what the village should do, but noted there may less of a need for the machine in the future. The silt removal machine is said to cost roughly $135,000, according to Potok.

“We don’t have a place to store it. We can’t just park it in the street and we can’t just leave it outdoors,” he said.

The village has spent as much as $80,000 to remove silt from the waterways in years past, Sarnoff said. Buying a machine would cost about the same as a few years’ worth of removal contracts.

Last year, the village purchased a Rake-O-Vac, which cost $30,000, to mitigate the build-up of goose droppings in places like Harbor Island and Columbus parks. Before the purchase, the village borrowed a machine from the Hampshire Country Club to be able to clear parks of goose droppings and other debris. Village management decided it was best to buy the machine after the village cleanup day in April 2012.

Sarnoff said the Rake-O-Vac is used about once a week in all of the local parks.

“I think the [Rake-O-Vac] works well,” Sarnoff said.

In addition to looking at how much it would cost to buy the dredging machine, Potok said the village needs to consider what will be built to house it, the cost to hire a third party to remove river silt, and what the exact needs for the machine are going to be. Renting the machine out to other municipalities in order to recoup some of the purchase price may be a possibility, but Potok said that the village shouldn’t rely on that revenue.

“If we are going to be the only ones around that buy it, we should think twice about it,” Potok said.