Port Chester and G&S Investors have the framework of a deal in place to repair the village's collapsing sea wall, Mayor Dennis Pilla said Wednesday.
Engineers from both sides met in December and again earlier this month, moving closer toward a deal.
They've "agreed on a technical approach" to repair the bulkhead, the mayor said.
Instead of replacing the entire sea wall, engineers say the existing structure can be repaired. That could mean savings of about $1.5 million, according to early estimates. First, the engineers will test the structural integrity of the sea wall and compile a detailed report by Valentine's Day, Pilla said.
From there, it's in the hands of the lawyers.
The sea wall and renovated waterfront were completed as part of the original $100 million deal with G&S Investors that included the shopping complex, parking garage and parking lots bordering the Byram River.
After signs of distress first appeared, damage to the sea wall accelerated through a series of storms in the spring and summer of 2010.
By early spring, parts of the metal structure were warped. Soon after, the wall began crumbling, leading the village to close down the walkway bordering the Byram River.
In July of 2010, a month after Port Chester closed parts of the waterfront off to the public, a section of the sea wall collapsed, sending bricks and soil into the Byram River.
The bulkhead became the most urgent issue facing the newly-elected Board of Trustees, which authorized $100,000 for makeshift repairs to the wall. That repair work is what's holding the wall together to date, but it was not completed before several more storms led to additional sections collapsing.
Heavy rains in mid-December of 2010 resulted in further collapse, submerging sections of the former walkway.
Design flaws and poor construction were the major factors in the collapse, according to engineer Alan Waller of the Halcrow Group. Waller took trustees through a presentation in July of 2010, pointing out problems that ranged from
the use of inappropriate materials, to makeshift solutions that "nobody in their right mind would do."
Lawyers from G&S countered, saying Port Chester's government did not do its part to maintain the wall.
Among the challenges ahead, lawyers from both sides will have to agree on how to pay for the repairs. A compromise will likely involve sharing the cost between the village and the developer.
They'll also work out a deal for oversight and accountability, the mayor said. After the corner-cutting and construction improvisation that contributed to the original collapse, experts will be watching the construction closely -- and taxpayers will too.
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