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Flood Waters Swamp Cars Again in Croton Harmon Commuter Parking Lot

January 19, 2006

Flood Waters Swamp Cars Again in Croton Harmon Commuter Parking LotA dangerous storm with heavy rains and high winds in excess of 45 miles per hour coupled with a high tide at 12:30 PM on Wednesday, January 18, 2006, caused severe flooding (view photo gallery) at the Croton Harmon train station parking lot. Additionally, portions of the road that provide access to many sections of the lot were closed off by MTA Police and the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Department of Public Works because of the flood waters.

Despite, a sign in front of parking section G, which states, “FLOOD PRONE AREA. PARK AT YOUR OWN RISK”, there is no near-term solution to abate flooding by the Village. Therefore, paid parking in a significant portion of the Croton Harmon commuter lot remains a buyer beware proposition hidden behind a thin disclaimer.

In fact, Sharon Stern, a concerned Cortlandt Manor resident and commuter (as seen in the following video segment), who has been using the parking lot for the last seventeen years appeared before the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Board of Trustees at the regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 to voice her own personal concerns and to describe the water damage her car recently sustained as a direct result of ongoing flooding (view photo gallery) in the parking lot.


Option: Download and watch this video clip of “Flood Waters Swamp Cars Again in Croton Harmon Commuter Parking Lot” in Quicktime format (4:35 mins. | 7.1 mb).

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Video transcript start:

Ms. Stern: “I actually came her primarily motivated by a flyer that was on my windshield at the Croton Harmon train station where I have parked for everyday for approximately the past 17 years. And that flyer indicated that there would be discussion tonight of the repeated flooding conditions that take place at the Croton Harmon train station. I see that its not on the agenda but I did come over here so I thought I’d speak.

I am not a resident of Croton. I am a resident of Cortlandt Manor. I’ve indicated that I have been parking at the train station for approximately 17 years and for most of that, paying substantial revenue to the Village of Croton Harmon. For some period of time, years ago, not all of the lot was owned by Croton Harmon. And I’m sure as all of you know, there are over 2,000 people who commute on a regular basis and who park their cars there. It is the largest train station system.

It also charges, at least to non-residents, the highest monthly fees. And, the concern is both by myself and many others that the repeated flooding situation has gotten to an unbearable point. The conditions have gotten worse over the course of the past year. There have been at least two or three occasions within the last six months where there has been a need to even close part of the lot.

And my car has been damaged. It is currently sitting the service station needing repair for two computers and to remove the water that has gotten into the automobile. While parking in what I consider to be a fairly safe portion of the lot.

I would implore all of you to really give consideration as to shoring up the area that bounds the swamp area in sections, I believe G and H of the parking lot. I think lessons can be learned by what happened down south in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina about the need to have forsight and prevention and not wait until havoc strikes. So, again I implore you to give serious consideration, perhaps even officially put it on as an agenda item. I’m sure there would be a lot of people who, both positively would have good suggestions and of course negatively would complain but, those are all the positives and negatives that go along with this forum. Thank you.”

Trustee James Steinberg: “Can I ask you a question? What was your name?”

Ms. Stern: “Sharon Stern. STERN.”

Trustee James Steinberg: “Ms. Stern, do you have a copy of this um, flyer that you were, that was on your car?”

Ms. Stern: “No, not on me. But I do have a copy.”

Trustee James Steinberg: “Was it produced by the Village? I mean, we’ve never discussed something like this so it seems quite peculiar.” (crosstalk)

Ms. Stern: “It doesn’t indicate that it was sponsored by the Village. My sense was that it was sponsored by somebody who didn’t enjoy having his or her car flooded and was looking for some vocal support for that.”

Trustee James Steinberg: “Mmm hmm.”

Ms. Stern: “So, it did seem, and I actually thought I would see a whole group of individuals but since I stopped by after work, I figured, group of individuals or not, I would get the point across.”

Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “Exactly.” (laughing)

Trustee Thomas Brennan: “Ms. Stern. I was actually contacted by a couple of residents about the problem down there and I mentioned it to the board and to the Village Manager and I believe we do have something gonna be scheduled for our next work session to talk about that problem and see if there is any type of resolution to move forward to come up with some answers to that problem.”

Ms. Stern: “Excellent.”

Trustee James Steinberg: “If I could add too. For purposes of future meetings, the Village has a very, um, informative website that produces the agenda too because I know its not right for any citizen or person that parks down there to get something on their car that says a certain something is going to be on the agenda and you travel here and its not. I mean that’s not fair for you or anyone else.” (crosstalk)

Ms. Stern: “I understand that and actually when I looked at the agenda, I realized it was not on there, but you do have the opportunity, and you provide the opportunity to address non-agenda items so.”

Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt: “So, you’re perfectly welcome to come. We do appreciate your comments and we will look into that.”

Ms. Stern: “Thank you.”

Video transcript end.

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Further, looking ahead to the Village election on March 21, 2006, the Croton GOP, which just released its 2006 Village election platform and endorsements for James Steinberg, who was appointed last year by Mayor Dr. Gregory Schmidt to fill his seat after losing his own bid for a Trustee seat, and newcomer Joe Gonzalez, make no mention, propose any changes or cite the need for repairs at the lot.

The Croton Harmon parking lot is a Village owned and operated enterprise that generates in excess of $1,000,000 of revenue per year to the overall operating budget. The lot is available to Village of Croton-on-Hudson residents at quarterly rate of $135.00 and to non-residents for a quarterly fee of $234.00. Daily parking is also available to the public at a fee of $5.00 per day including weekends and holidays.

For additional information or to report flood damage, contact the Village of Croton-on-Hudson by phone at 914-271-4781. The daily parking office, located at the lot is available during normal business hours at 914-271-6800.

On January 31, 2006 12:10 PM, SSmith said:

on my morning trudge to the train station today i saw a very curious sight indeed:

the notorious sections that flood at the parking lot were very noticeably roped off with “NO PARKING” signs attached to the caution tape cordoning off those sections. the closing of those sections caused a minor traffic clog up as unsuspecting patrons had to drive down into the lot to see the caution tape and signs on those sections and then turn around OR find an empty space… good luck with the latter!!

i could hear many of the parkers both in the station and on the platform “joking” about the situation. actually, they really weren’t joking. many had missed earlier trains in lieu of finding a legal spot. one woman told me that she “had to park almost in ossining” then followed that with a sarcastic laugh. i think she, like many others affected, was trying to mask her frustration and outrage.

This is obviously not a viable solution. is the village going to close down those 100-200 parking spaces everytime it threatens to rain? if so, what kind of solution is that? it won’t last long as frustrated commuters who are paying dearly to park there can’t afford to be late to work everytime there is rain in the forecast.

what a stupid excuse to give your boss… “sorry i was late. but since there was rain in the forecast i had to park way further away than usual at my train station and therefore missed a couple of trains. sorry boss but IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN!”

at least they could have used some common sense and put a sign at the top of the hill before entering the lot saying these sections were closed. but, oh i forgot, common sense is not a prerequisite to serve in the current majority party in town.

keep your hip waders and blow up raft in your bag folks… and/or your hiking boots for your new long walk.

well done, dr mayor.

On January 25, 2006 6:22 PM, weewill said:

“This plan also addresses a key concern of the Village: to address the chronic flooding that impacts a portion of the eastern area of the parking lot. This option therefore includes new fill and regrading for an approximate 2.5 acre portion of the parking lot.”

Mayor Schmidt in his quote published on his very own GOP website as a “NEWS ALERT” is in error. It’s not in any way a “news alert”; it’s been in place for close to 5 years and the first 2 phases of the plan have been implemented. He and his majority on the board withdraw 1/2 a million dollars from this year’s budget that had been designated for PARKING LOT IMPROVEMENTS.

The plans for that money could have been tweaked any way the board saw the need. Mayor Schmidt, Trustees Brennan and Steinberg voted to remove the funds completely. Trustees Wiegman and Kane wanted to move ahead with the parking lot improvements.

See the above quotation from the proposed improvement plans for the RR parking lot with specific reference to “the “flooding problem.”

On January 25, 2006 1:08 PM, Mrs. Smith said:

Having just read the Croton GOP news alert, where I assume they are referring to the blog as the village rumor mill, it is interesting to read their version of the conversations.

QUOTE: “Recently it has been asserted by the village rumor mill that $500,000 was cut from the village budget in 2005 by the new administration that would have stopped flooding issues at the village parking lot. This is untrue. As indicated by Mayor Schmidt at the work session of 1/23, the $500,000 cut from the budget was for “AESTHETIC” (beautification) improvements at the lot, having nothing to do with flood prevention or remediation at all.”

Nowhere that I have read did anyone say that the half-million dollars cut “would have stopped the flooding issue” merely that it was cut from continuing improvements to the parking lot from the long term plan that had been laid out by the previous administration.

Now, we are going to reinvent the wheel and have two more studies done, spend more money no doubt on those studies, and come up with what - the same solution as was previously laid out.

On January 23, 2006 12:12 PM, TeaDrinker said:

Editor’s note: In their 3rd installment of the “Minority Report” and in response to flooding problems at the Croton Harmon train station parking lot, Trustees Charlie Kane and Leo Wiegman penned a piece called “Flooding Solution for Croton Harmon Train Station Parking Lot Mothballed by Schmidt, Brennan and Steinberg” which explains why this ongoing situation persists.

On January 23, 2006 12:04 PM, Pat Barua said:

There were no legal available spots in the southernmost portion near the salt shed this morning.

The only open spot I saw was one of the free ones reserved for the Metro North concession stand, conveniently located and ornately signed right near the station.

On January 23, 2006 10:35 AM, notorc said:

How nice of you to say I’m uninformed. I’m informed enough to know where NOT to park.

A class action suit serves nobody but the lawyers and will hurt the village.

While on the surface it might make sense to pour money into the lot, perhaps closing that section and turning away the revenue is more beneficial than building new spaces…from a pure cost-benefit analysis.

Have you considered parking at the southernmost portion of the paved lot near the salt pile? There’s usually plenty of spots there.

On January 23, 2006 10:15 AM, Frank W said:

Apparently “notorc” doesn’t pay the $936/year to park here. The idea of changing the status of the lot on a daily basis shows how uninformed he is. If they close the lot…. where are people supposed to park? The only answer is for Croton’s Board to reinvest some of their much enjoyed revenue back into the lot. The other alternative (and it’s been talked about alot by commuters) is a class action suit.

On January 21, 2006 12:18 PM, notorc said:

I’ve been parking at the station for nearly six years. I simply don’t park in that section where it says “prone to flooding” so I never had a problem.

As a resident, I fear the class action lawsuit that will come… You know it’s only a matter of time. True, flooding is an “act of God” but to put/allow parking spaces in a flood zone is simply bad business.

I’m surprised nobody has brought up the environmental issues. I can only imagine how much transmission fluid, oil and antifreeze escapes when the water comes in. We have other programs monitoring the run-off into the rivers and this should be addressed as well. Also, why wait until an environment friendly organizations catches wind of this issue and forces the village’s hand?

While the problem was not created by this administration, they do in fact need to address it. Close that section of the lot, turn away daily commuters and find alternative measures even if it means renting the idle area known as Metro Enviro and running a tram….how’s THAT for an idea :`)

As residents, we all “own” the lots and the insuing lawsuits caused by having parking spaces in a flood zone. Since we can’t expect people to not park there, we need to close it down until a solution is at hand.

Alternatively, given a tide chart and weather forecast (strong southerly wind as well as rain) I bet it’d take 2 minutes each day to forecast a flood and close down the lot.

I don’t have all the answers but why let this problem linger as it has for decades.

On January 21, 2006 9:38 AM, Mrs. Smith said:

You are right commonscribbler, it is a problem for all. My reason for suggesting that the Republican members of the board should be taken to task is, as I said, in last years budget discussions Messers Schmidt, Brennan and Steinberg arbitralily cut the funding already earmarked for continuing improvements to the parking lot, so that they could achieve a tax raise in line with their campaign promises. I would like to know what their plans are for long term improvemnts to the parking lot.

On January 21, 2006 9:08 AM, commonscribbler said:

This doesn’t strike me as a partisan issue; the lot at the station floods regardless of party affiliation, and it has been doing so for the past 30 years.

It’s just plain wrong to continue to generate revenue for the Village off what’s clearly a worsening and costly situation for the customers.

On January 20, 2006 8:15 AM, Mrs. Smith said:

For those of you who attend this next meeting on the issue of parking lot flooding, please be sure to question Mayor Schmidt and Trustees Brennan and Steinberg about the fact that they arbitrarily cut approximately half a million dollars in funding for parking lot improvements to accomplish their lower tax increase last Spring.

The previous administration had mapped out a plan for improvements and the above trio, without any forethought, removed this budget item so that they could lower the tax increase in line with their campaign rhetoric.

Everyone who has lived on Croton for any time knows that there are flood tides and certain weather conditions exacerbate the situation to a point where probably the only solution would be to close the parking lot, but there are improvments which could be made. What are the Republicans plans for parking lot improvement???

On January 19, 2006 9:36 PM, Frank W said:

I sat in the Croton-Harmon train station for 3 hours on Wednesday evening waiting for my turn to get towed. During that time there must have been about 50-60 cars towed, especially out of section H where I was parked.

I was speaking with my mechanic (who deals with this issue whenever it floods) and he told me that although the tide does play a part, the drainage at the train station is the major problem. All of the water comes down the hill and drains - into the drains by Section H - and then flows into the river. If the current from the river is too strong it will push the water back out of the drains and into the lots.

The village has a responsibility to it’s customers - residents or not. I plan on speaking to the local paper as well as News Channel 12 regarding the Village’s neglegence on this issue. I also urge everyone who has every incurred damages from this problem to attend the next board meeting on Monday evening (1/23) @ 7:30 PM. The village has made it clear that it will not recognize individual complaints. It is obvious that the only way to get recognized is by showing up in numbers and demanding compensation, as well as, changes to the Croton Harmon train station.

On January 19, 2006 4:49 PM, TeaDrinker said:

For those like blogger “Dave”, who want to try emailing the Village of Croton-on-Hudson Board of Trustees, the following will get you started.

Board of Trustees:

On January 19, 2006 4:28 PM, Just The Facts said:

As a Croton resident and daily user of the parking lot I too have had many issues with the state of the parking situation in Croton. It would seem to me that some immediate action could be taken, namely:

1) Since the Croton lot is supposed to be first and foremost for Croton residents, EXPAND the Croton residents parking spaces. Clearly there is a need for this as the Croton resident spots are all taken prior to 7 AM.

2) Look into a levy or flood wall. I doubt as the prior commented mentioned that a 20 foot wall is needed. When the lot floods, it floods two or three feet max. A five foot wall should suffice.

3) Additionally, is it just me, or does anyone else think its ridiculous that there is no stop light at the entrance to the lot. While this would not help flooding, it would assist each of us getting home 5-10 minutes earlier each night. Apparently Croton Point Avenue is a county road, so do as I have and contact the county requesting a light.

With respect to the trustee’s responsiveness, after my car got flooded two weeks ago, I emailed all of the trustees. Trustee Weigman quickly responded and it is clear that he sees the need for action here. The rest of them were MIA and apparently do not care.

On January 19, 2006 12:35 PM, weewill said:

As more evidence that the “concern” expressed by both Trustees Brennan and Schmidt were flowerly platitudes with no real thought behind them, note the Republican platform recently released for this next election in March.

There is absolutely NO MENTION OF THE PROBLEMS AT THE RR PARKING LOT. NO MENTION THAT THEY HAVE ANY PLANS TO REMEDIATE. NO MENTION THAT THEY ARE GOING TO “LOOK INTO IT”.

Could this silence indicate they know how unrealistic it is to believe they can remediate such an act of mother nature?

Platitudes and phony promises of hope never solved anything. Candor and honest assessment and evaluation is always more appreciated even by the most harried commuter.

On January 19, 2006 11:04 AM, weewill said:

This last storm is probably one of the worst of the many previous storms that have flooded the village RR parking lot and submerged commuter’s parked cars.

The explanation always given is that the flooding results from unusual simultaneous high tides, full moons and heavy rains. This has happened many times before and will again and again. Every man sitting on that day at the above meeting knows this, yet none had the courage to tell Ms. Stern the truth. Short of building an above level parking lot on stilts or perhaps constructing a levy 20 feet high along the perimeter of the parking lot, there is no relief in site. This board knows that perfectly well.

For Trustee Brennan to suggest the board was going to do something about the flooding is less than honest. What is honest would be to tell Ms. Stein that this board withdrew close to 1/2 million dollars from the capital improvement budget designated to improve the parking lot this year. It would have been more forthright for the board to explain this to Ms. Stern. The insincere platitudes given to Ms. Stern will not change the situation and only give false hope. It’s an example of political pandering at its worst.

Someone should ask Trustee Brennan exactly what he thinks should and can be done. After all, he’s in the construction business and should know better than others. You might ask Trustee Brennan why he voted to remove such a large chunk of money, specifically designated for parking lot improvements, to be removed from this year’s budget.

Adding to the inconsistency and insincerity of Trustee Brennan was that he was one of the most vocal about his perceived lack of attention to the village infrastructure and needed repairs during his campaign for election. It’s time for him to step up to the plate.



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