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Details Surface in Saw Mill Tower Plan, DOT Mulls Options

Pleasantville continues to object to traffic-monitoring tower project.

Protests from the Village of Pleasantville have led the New York State Department of Transportation to reconsider the proposed location for one of its Advanced Traveler Information System (ATIS) towers, said Spokesperson Sue Stepp.

A state plan to build a series of towers on the Saw Mill River Parkway includes the possibility of two 100 to 120-foot towers in the Village of Pleasantville, Mayor Peter Scherer said at Monday's board of trustees meeting.

Residents and local officials have been especially vocal about one of the proposed towers, which was planned for the Grant Street intersection of the parkway in the village.

Last week, Weskora Avenue Jim Hundzynski, said he felt the tower would be "out of character," as it would need to above the tree and building lines in the village.

Stepp said the Department of Transportation is currently "looking at alternatives for [the Grant Street] pole," and said internal meetings are scheduled for this week.

"Be advised that the project is in its preliminary stages," she said. "The poles in question haven't even been produced yet."

Scherer said the second tower in the village would be built north of Grant Street, "roughly in the area where the high tension wires cross the Saw Mill Parkway," near the aqueduct and behind Washington Avenue.

Additionally, five similar towers are proposed in the Mount Pleasant and New Catle stretches of the parkway—just south and north of Pleasantville, respectively.

Scherer, who Stepp said has been in contact with the project engineer, told residents Monday the towers would use "acoustic receptors" and cameras to transfer traffic and emergency information to DOT headquarters for future planning.

He said the cameras are not intended to target drivers and hand out traffic infractions.

According to the mayor, the project continues south of the Taconic State Parkway exit on the Saw Mill, where the first Mount Pleasant tower is proposed, but a "fiber optic data spine" will control the significantly smaller towers from there.

"They were originally envisioning this would go all the way to 684," he said, referring to the state's original 2007 proposal.

Now, however, the project is projected to end at the Roaring Brook Road exit in Chappaqua.

Scherer said his counterparts in New Castle and Mount Pleasant "are on our side as well", and agree, "This is not a project that should go forward."

New Castle Supervisor Susan Carpenter expressed concern about the height of the proposed poles. She said she was only informed about it last week, learning from Scherer. Town officials will be learning more about the project, she explained.

"We're investigating it right now," she said.

Don Willemann, a Mountain Road, Mount Pleasant, resident, told the board Monday he walks Grant Street every day.

Willemann, who identified himself as a project manager for another state agency, said, "I expect there are alternatives here."

Assemblyman (D-92) Thomas Abinanti spoke about the project on PCTV last week on the show "Straight Talk with John Nonna."

"This, I gather, has been a well-kept secret," Abinanti commented. "How about information, how about a hearing, how about a discussion?"

Abinanti said he plans to meet with Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald to discuss the project.

"If there is anything that you are going to do on the Saw Mill River Parkway, it should be directed toward flooding," he added. "We have got to alleviate the flooding problem."

According to Stepp, more answers will be coming in the next week.

"The drawings are still in our review process," she said. "Everything is on the table right now."

Editor Tom Auchterlonie contributed to this story.

Note: This article previously stated Don Willemann works for the DOT. It has been corrected.

Amy February 16, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Thank you for running a story on this! Most people I speak to still do not know about it or what it consists of. It is a serious issue for the town and the public needs to be made aware.
Julie Anderson February 16, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Disseminating this information is so important; thank you for covering this issue. The potential hazards to Pleasantville, and the aesthetics of our community, are at risk if this plan moves forward.
Joe Taxpayer February 17, 2012 at 02:23 AM
What a waste of damn money! They installed something similar in the same location. Fix the potholes, dredge the river, fix the broken guide rail, and trim the trees back if DOT ever gets bored. What about the expensive electronic message board south of Marble Avenue that is NEVER used.
Deana February 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM
If DOT really were listening to what the taxpayers wanted, they would fix the flooding so we can minimize traffic. Cameras showing the flooding really isn't very helpful.
Don February 20, 2012 at 02:16 AM
I agree with everyone's comments here - this project is a multi-million dollar waste of our money and will only produce a visual blight and potential health impacts in the residential areas they wish to install these ugly, industrial-appearing towers in. The proported benefits of traffic control are bogus. For a miniscule sum, they could install a sensor to monitor the flood level of the Saw Mill to get an early warning before the rain is about to flood the road. There is NO other traffic worth watching in this section of road. And if they did watch every car go by, what on earth do they believe they could do with that information?
Don February 20, 2012 at 02:19 AM
I forgot to mention a small error in these article - Don Willemann said he works for the State, but at another agency, not for DOT. Btw, more information is available at this new Yahoo Group, formed to mobilize people in the area: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/westchestermicrowavetowers
Sarah Studley (Editor) February 20, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Thank you for pointing this out, Don. It has been corrected.

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