County Executive Ed Day released a statement on Wednesday urging the New York State Public Service Commission to update an agreement between United Water New Jersey and United Water New York. The agreement, titled the Lake DeForest Reservoir Cost Allocation Agreement, which is up for a twenty year extension, was created in 1954 to split payments between New Jersey and New York on the Lake DeForest Reservoir. Day stated that the agreement is unfair towards New York customers. Currently payments are based on the company’s minimum average use of water from Lake DeForest per year, data showing that UWNJ uses and pays for 7.7 million gallons per day, while UWNY uses and pays for 10 million gallons per day. According to the statement the longterm flow of water downstream from New York to New Jersey has been 27 million gallons per day. Day stated that the PSC must consider amending the agreement to be fairer towards Rockland County and New York customers.
A teller at the Key Bank in New City was arrested and faces felony charges of third-degree grand larceny for stealing $30,000 from a customer. According to Clarkstown Police Marcia Campbell, 49 of Spring Valley, worked as an associate at the bank and chose a random customer’s account to steal the funds from. Officials at the bank stated that customers don’t need to feel insecure about banking, the account was refunded and all the money was put back. Campbell was arrested on December 18 and the case will go before a grand jury at the Rockland County District Attorney’s office later this month.
United Water customers expressed anger toward the company in recent days, when the water in many homes was shutoff. One resident, Adrienne Millman of New City, called the company and heard an automated message saying that scheduled maintenance would be taking place. Millman stated to the Journal News that she was celebrating the start of Passover with guests when dirty, brown water started coming from her tap. When she got a hold of a supervisor, they told her that the work was being done on the holiday because Clarkstown South High School would be on break. Spokeswoman for United Water Deb Rizzi stated that crews had to wait until student activities were over for the weekend to repair three water valves, which required shutting off the water, and to avoid an emergency the work had to be done quickly. According ot Rizzi customers in the area expected to be affected in West Nyack were notified on Friday, though the brown water affected more customers than the company had originally expected. When asked about the work being completed on the holiday, Rizzi stated that the company was, “Very, very apologetic.”
Senator David Carlucci introduced a new bill this week that would allow toll agencies to work alongside the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend registration on vehicles that are proven to be chronic toll evaders. As of now only an administrative board or local court has the power to do so. The new bill would work with other states as well, and would suspend registration for drivers who fail to respond to five payment notices. According to Carlucci the Tappan Zee Bridge will be switching to a completely cashless system to help traffic flow during construction and will take a photo of the license plate on a car that drives through a toll without an EzPass and mails them a bill. According to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority they have been testing the same system since 2012 on the Henry Hudson Bridge and are still attempting to collect 1.6 million dollars in unpaid tolls. Carlucci stated that the bill will be going after continuous violators, not someone who has missed one toll payment. Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a similar bill, which would have suspended registration after just three unanswered toll payment notices, and would have charged violators with a misdemeanor count of theft services.
Suffern, Tallman, Hillcrest, Monsey, and Mahwah Fire Departments all responded to assist in a cll at an apartment building at 107 Stewart Circle in Suffern Tuesday Fire Chief Michael Stark the call came in at 5:50 PM and the first group to respond were able to put the fire out within 25 minutes, though the multiple departments and police units were needed to assist in the evacuation of residents and to help battle the smoke and lasting flames in the freezing rain. Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn stated that volunteers brought the displaced residents to a nearby building where food and shelter was provided. No injuries were reported and Stark stated that the Rockland County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations is looking into the cause of the fire, which started in the basement.
Residents of Rockland County can share their thoughts on the proposed United Water rate increases at a public hearing on April 23 and 24. Over the summer United Water submitted a request to raise revenue by 21.3 million dollars, stating that most customers’ bills would increase by $144 a year. Two state Administrative Law Judges Rafael Epstein and David Van Ort, recommended that the increase be lowered to 1.1 million dollars, making it a 15 percent increase in revenue. According to data from United Water this would make bills increase by $121 a year. The company also asked the New York State Public Service Commission in June for an increase of $60 per customer to support the 50 million dollars they spent getting approvals for the new desal plant. Due to reports that the county will run out of a water supply in coming years, the plant would take water from the Hudson, treat it, and distribute it to customers in Rockland County. Many local groups are against the plant, such as the Rockland Water Coalition, stating that the numbers may have proved lower due to the company releasing water from the Lake DeForest Reservoir into New Jersey. The plant currently stands at a cost of 150 million dollars, and will use a large amount of electricity when completed. Spokeswoman for United Water Deb Rizzi stated that the company is thankful for the judge’s decision that a rate increase is justified, and that their commitment is to ensure the customers’ receive a reliable water supply always. The hearings will be at the Felix Festa Middle School on April 23 and at the Ramapo Town Hall on April 24.
According to reports from the Journal News the illegal commercial matzo oven located at a school run by Congregation Ateres Yisroel on Forshay Road in Monsey remains in operation, after a Town Justice ordered its removal on April 7. Justice Alan Simon also ordered that students be removed from the school, which was found to have multiple violations by Ramapo Fire Inspector Adam Peltz. Allegedly a man at the property told reporters that the baking was continuing because they had moved the oven away from classrooms and, “Everything has been legalized.” Gordon Wren, Rockland’s Fire Coordinator stated that his secretary was able to get in touch with Peltz, who stated that the congregation still does not have proper permits, but because of the distance from the building it is safe to use. Wren also stated that the oven is now being called a barbecue and the town can’t take action against a barbecue. According to Wren the school has been facing violations for years and there has yet to be actions taken against the congregation.
According to Suffern Police a man was in serious condition at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern after being hit by a car on Monday night. Police Chief Clarke Osborn stated that the accident occurred around 10:45 on Monday night on Orange Avenue, investigations agreeing with the driver’s account of what happened. The 23-year old woman from Monroe told police that she did not see the 26-year old man, who’s name was not released, and though the Ramapo Police Accident Investigations Unit is still reviewing, findings support that the man was lying in the road at the time of the accident. Toxicology reports are being completed to show whether or not the man had been drinking. According to Osborn no charges have been brought against the driver.
The state Supreme Court has approved a settlement between the East Ramapo School District and the renters of Colton Elementary School. Justice Margaret Garvey ordered that the Congregation Bais Malka and the Hebrew Academy for Special Children will be given one million dollars in rent credit as well as credit for renovations they had completed, and will have fees for late rent waived. This will bring the approved sale of the building down from 6.6 million dollars to 5.1 million dollars, though the settlement states unknown additional credits. The sale was originally delayed since 2011 when the tenants first filed complaints that they were owed rent credit, though the sale can now move forward with the settlement and should take place in by June 30. The district included the five million dollars in the 2013-14 budget.
According to officials the state will begin mapping the bottom of the Hudson River in the Piermont area this week. The mapping will complete 153 miles from Troy to New York City. The maps will allow researchers determine the depth of the river and what mineral content it is made of, which will help them understand the animals and fish that make the Hudson their home. The project is part of the building of the New Tappan Zee bridge, which local groups Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, have been monitoring to protect species especially the endangered Shortnose and Atlantic Sturgeon. Crews from the State Thruway Authority have been using sonar to measure the depth and create a map of the shallow bottom, only in areas that are thirteen feet or less. Residents have stated that many recreational boaters will be avoiding going North towards the Tappan Zee construction site, due to all the barges that are moored there, but the Southern route is about four feet deep in some places and can be hard to navigate. The mapping techniques will help boaters to know where to safely maneuver their boats through the channel.