It seems that Malverne Mel is the better prognosticator than Punxsutawney Phil. The early spring we are experiencing has allowed us to get the jump on some important new infrastructure work. We are beginning to see returns with our road program, which enters its third year. We have begun mobilization for complete road restorations on several more roads this spring. We now see the dividends hoped to be earned with this program. Now our road crews can return and concentrate their efforts on the long term road repair begun several years ago with the purchase of specialized equipment and new repair protocol; as opposed to spending money funding road repairs to roads which provided salvage and temporary repair at best. We have completed several miles of roads over the past decade and over the past three years we have dedicated .5% of our tax levy to our road program. This year, and the following two years, completes the five-year program. I have no doubt our roads will look and perform as they should.
After Irene and then Sandy, we quickly realized that our monumental trees had become not simply the beautiful village identity we enjoyed. We mistakenly assumed they would live strong and tall forever. In a few hours, minutes in some cases, scores of beautiful 80-90 year old trees came down like bowling pins. Because we had never seen an onslaught like Sandy, no less two consecutive massive storms, vulnerability was exposed in our Public Works Department and we found these great majestic trees a new challenge. We recognized a need that had to be addressed. The answer was the reinvigorated Tree Department we see today. New tree equipment: a 75’ boom truck, new chipper and trucks had to be purchased and men hired and trained to address our trees. Today our tree program is second to none. Trees are examined and are scheduled for pruning. It took us over two years to catch up on our backlog, but today we are carefully examining the species for replanting, maximizing their location for future growth and evaluating the size of existing trees and their location. We all desire the majestic beauty, canopy, shade and air filters that our trees provide, but they must be healthy and safe. We have assessed and appropriately responded to that need.
Conveying storm water safely from our streets is as important as new roadways. Working with our friends at the County, we have addressed a decades old problem on the South Side. We designed required new pipe sizing and advocated with the County to allow this new piping to integrate with their system. Today storm water is conveyed through larger pipes, moving storm water quickly off the streets and preventing the backups that caused so much damage to residents’ homes in the past. Along with this storm water management enhancement, we also installed new roads with concrete curbs and gutters in the affected areas. The job is completed fully.
The Village also addressed another decades old drainage problem in the West End. The reasons for this problem have been enunciated before, but the solution lays within a few feet from our border within the state owned land of Belmont Park. After designing and submitting professional plans, calculations and the like along with many years of advocacy, we finally obtained an easement to use 5 acres of land within Belmont Park for a new recharge basin. Those plans have been reviewed by the State and we are ever so close to seeing that 5 acre recharge basin, and related piping work, become a reality. In fact, we are hoping to begin work this spring. This process has taken over 11 years to accomplish, but we have dogged this solution and will soon be providing peace of mind to so many residents in the Village. Once completed, those affected homeowners need not worry about leaving for a weekend or a vacation should a major storm hit the area during the summer. Storm water will convey quickly and safely off the streets. Like all the other projects discussed, this project will be completed fully. I challenged our professionals and our department heads consistently with the expression, “The first dollar you spend, is the best dollar you spend, if it is the last dollar you spend”. I believe these completed projects and proposed solutions are evidence that they took the intended meaning to heart.