Last summer, when trustees called an emergency meeting to deal with the collapsing waterfront bulkhead, the situation looked dire.
Trustee Daniel Brakewood compared the sea wall to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Trustee John Branca didn't think the bulkhead would last through 2010 after watching a marine engineer's urgent report.
"Let's hope and pray to God we don't get hit with another Nor'easter," Branca said at the time, "because we're gonna lose the whole bulkhead."
What's keeping it up, and what's the village doing to solve the problem?
The bulkhead remains largely intact -- for now -- thanks to emergency repairs after the Board of Trustees authorized almost $100,000 for the task last year.
Trustees also authorized money for engineers to begin design work on a replacement bulkhead.
And that's where things remain, at the engineering stage, as Port Chester's marine engineers work with their counterparts at G&S to settle on a solution. Engineers from both sides met earlier this month to discuss the issue and settle on the best approach.
The main issue is money. Replacing the entire sea wall would likely cost upwards of $5 million. Repairs would be cheaper, and that's what G&S has been pushing for.
Mayor Dennis Pilla said he hopes engineers can come to a compromise early in 2012, and hopes construction will begin "by Thanksgiving next year."
"It's extremely frustrating to me, the slow pace that this is unfortunately proceeding at," Pilla said. "But it is highly technical stuff and has required field engineering work."
At a meeting earlier this month, several trustees grumbled about the developer's involvement, suggesting future development plans by G&S would be shot down if the company didn't commit to helping fix the bulkhead and put up the money to get it done. Earlier engineering surveys found major design flaws and cost-cutting measures at the construction level which created the conditions for the wall's collapse, but G&S attorneys have argued the village did not do its part to maintain the waterfront.
Other sources of funding, such as federal emergency aid, aren't likely because of the ongoing litigation between Port Chester and G&S, Rep. Nita Lowey told trustees last year.
Village Manager Christopher Russo said he's "not happy" with the progress so far, and trustees Sam Terenzi and Joseph Kenner said they won't consider a proposed development on Westchester Avenue until the bulkhead is fixed.
"I'm not going to vote to advance this any further until we get resolution" on the bulkhead, Kenner said.
While acknowledging "there's plenty of blame to go around," Pilla pointed out that both the village and the developer are bound by a contract and an ongoing business partnership. While promising the village "needs to consider recourse," he said he's confident the developer will pony up to protect its $150 million downtown investment.
If the makeshift repairs fail and the entire wall collapses, the losses for both parties would be significant.
"First and foremost," he said, "we need a structure that does what it's supposed to do."
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