Chamber of Commerce & Crumb Rubber At VOL Board

Trustee Studying Consolidation

by Judy Silberstein

(June 12, 2008) At their June 10 meeting, the only one of the month, the Larchmont Village Board quickly dispatched a slim agenda.

Two business items were tabled: consideration of a proposal from consultants Woodard & Curran for improvements at Lorenzen Park; and a public hearing to repeal Larchmont’s sprinkler law and discuss a new one. The board did hear proposals on a revived Chamber of Commerce and concerns about construction at the new turf field. And Trustee Jim Millstein reported on his plans for summer research into financial implications of consolidating Larchmont Village and Mamaroneck Town government.

Chamber of Commerce Reviving?

The “newsiest” item came from Jeff Rosenberg, a recently arrived business banking officer at Citibank in Larchmont, who has taken on the challenge of resurrecting the Larchmont Chamber of Commerce. Unlike similar groups in New Rochelle and Mamaroneck Village, the Larchmont Chamber has been mostly dormant since 2003, holding few activities other than regular sidewalk sales. The Larchmont Merchants Association, launched in 2002, is also inactive. (See: New Larchmont Merchants Association Launches Holiday "Lights on Larchmont")

“I’ve got a lot of positive feedback from businesses to have a chamber,” said Mr. Rosenberg, who said the many consultants and other “non-store front” business people are particularly interested in opportunities to network. In additional to sidewalk sales, holiday decorating and street fairs, he mentioned restaurant events and a Chamber website.

Trustee Anne McAndrews was hoping a revived Chamber might tackle the problem of upgrading the Addison Street parking area, which she said was sorely in need of beautification. The lot is a jumble of parcels with various owners – the Village, the apartments and the stores. Just figuring out who is responsible for which parcels has been difficult, and, despite a number of efforts, no grant money has been obtained to help fund improvements. She would welcome help getting the merchants “to value the back of their stores as much as the front,” she said.

“You will find we will be supportive,” Trustee Marlene Kolbert said, speaking for her fellow board members. “You will also find it’s not easy.”

Mr. Rosenberg said the Addison lot might be more than the fledgling organization could manage. He has been learning about the challenges of bringing together Larchmont’s diverse community of business owners, which includes both upscale and mainstream shops, retailers and consultants, and store fronts and offices in two separate zones – Palmer and the Post Road. He also stressed that he does not expect to be a “one man show.” His first step this summer will be to survey the businesses to learn further what is wanted and how much the owners are willing to contribute – in time and dues.

Crumb Rubber Concerns

As construction of the new artificial turf field in Flint Park nears completion, one of its opponents was at the board with concerns about drifts of crumb rubber infill she had found on the perimeter of the field and in a storm drain.

Catherine Wachs, an environmentalist who helped design and plant the rain garden at Kane Park, appeared with a plastic grocery sack half full of rubber crumbs she had scooped up from around the field. During the planning of the field, she had been among those who questioned the safety of crumb rubber, citing studies of hazardous substances that leach from the rubber into the air and water. (The Mamaroneck School Board said this week they will be using alternatives to crumb rubber for their proposed fields. See: Mam'k School Board Okays $40.6 Million Bond for Fall)

Ms. Wachs also pointed to inadequate or toppled barrier fences meant to keep construction debris from polluting the waterway.

Flint Field
Catherine Wachs showed pictures of the Flint Park artificial turf construction site with drifts of crumb rubber and toppled barrier fences.

Trustee Anne McAndrews assured Ms. Wachs that “we’re on top of” complying with stormwater regulations, including the more stringent ones that are about to be in force. However, Ms. Wachs said, despite assurances made during the planning stages, the project was not keeping the crumb rubber in check or following construction procedures required of home owners.

Mayor Liz Feld said the Village had been monitoring water quality and would make test results available.

Considering Consolidation

Trustee Jim Millstein reported that his plans for summer vacation include a second round of “number crunching” on potential savings that could accrue from a consolidation of Mamaroneck Town and Larchmont Village government.

He said he had independently reviewed budget numbers last summer that suggested consolidation could save as much as 20% on the 25% of the property tax bill that goes to local government. The lions share, 50% is for school taxes, and another 25% goes to Westchester County.

Mr. Millstein observed that consolidation has many other ramifications beyond the fiscal, and though difficult, is not impossible. With updated numbers in hand, he said he plans to organize a series of hearings in the fall to elicit public comment on the issue and to explore the concept with the Town of Mamaroneck.