BRONXVILLE, N.Y. -- The beautiful stretch of spring weather serves as a perfect backdrop for our beautifully flowering village. It is only fitting then that I write about the functions of our Department of Public Works, which is greatly responsible for the care and quality of this village streetscape.
Just 17 strong plus a foreman, (down from a high of a 23-man staff about a decade ago), our DPW staff is hard working and loyal. Most of the gentlemen stay with us upward of 20 and 30 years. Many of the men have additional specialized skills — be it as a landscaper, mason, tree trimmer or electrical talent — that often save us from needing to hire outside expertise.
This year has been especially unique as we have yet to find a DPW superintendent to replace the retired Rocco Circosta. Because we are a small village, many employees have to wear many different hats, and DPW chief is a great case in point. Our new hire will need to be an engineer, certified building inspector and someone with the personality/small-town skills to interact with residents, especially when a crisis occurs. Because our village staffers most often serve a long career in Bronxville and become a part of our special municipal family, it is important the right person joins our team.
As is custom, this year’s DPW spring cleaning includes the usual de-weeding of the railroad banks for the planting of ivy, as well as the islands throughout the village, resurfacing/repairing our benches, prepping the village tennis courts, getting Sagamore Park ready for play, repainting/refurbishing the fountain near New York Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital and repairing curbing and streetlight fixtures.
Our crew also filled a record number of potholes due to the severe winter weather and will assist with the villagewide summer paving program. As a reminder, if you think your street needs repaving, call Village Hall. It will be placed on our revolving list, and staff will evaluate the condition and urgency.
Again this year, we will partner with our neighboring municipalities of Tuckahoe and Eastchester for the joint purchasing of blacktop to achieve significant cost savings. Another very positive collaboration is the relationship between our Bronxville Beautification Committee, Builder Ledge Garden Club and our DPW staff.
Our garden clubs are beyond generous in purchasing plant materials for our parks and open spaces, with our staff then often stepping in to do the actual planting and continued maintenance. It is an incredibly productive partnership that enhances the special beauty of our village while limiting taxpayer costs.
In recent summers, sprinkler systems have been added in more public spaces to ensure the long-term life of the plants purchased.
Thanks to a program promulgated by the state Power Authority, offering municipalities street trees at a cost of two-for-one, we anticipate that DPW will be planting 50 street trees by September. Though small in caliper and not nearly enough to replace those lost in recent years to age, disease and storms, it is a significant start.
As is traditional, our DPW undertakes a large signature project to upgrade the village every summer. Last year, it was the Garden Avenue parking lot flood mitigation project. Working in tandem with our outside contractor, DPW staff helped construct a parking lot with state-of-the-art drainage as well as plant islands that increase water absorption and limit the expanse of blacktop. Recognizing the unique and innovative quality of this project, Westchester County just chose Bronxville for the Earth Day Award for Municipal Excellence.
This summer, our DPW is working with our outside contractor to refurbish the Metro-North underpass, long an unappealing gateway into our village. In honor of Memorial Day, our DPW staff also will be replacing old/tattered street flags with recently purchased new ones.
One only has to drive down Palumbo Place behind Village Hall to see that our DPW staff accomplishes all the above with less-than-optimal conditions at their garage. Recognizing this and the fact that the DPW garage was last remodeled in the 1940s, the trustees and I are considering financially feasible remodeling alternatives.
Just in the past few weeks, you probably saw DPW crews in almost every neighborhood cleaning sewer and sanitation pipes as we focus on village infrastructure. A small vignette relating to this project is a testament to their loyalty to the village and their willingness to go the extra mile. Last week, one of our residents lost her engagement ring down a catch basin and enlisted the nearby DPW staff to help.
The men moved to the drain in question, removed excess water and then transported the “muck” to DPW headquarters. There, they sifted through the unpleasant debris and in the very last scoop recovered the ring.
The resident was extremely grateful, and everyone involved felt the joy of a good deed — just another reason why this village is so very very special.
Thank you DPW.
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