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Cement Truck Accident Fuels Neighborhood Ire

Wilson Park residents are concerned over construction traffic and environmental hazards at the Toll Brothers site.

The cement truck flipping into a Wilson Park ditch poured salt on the wounds – or rather, oil on the dirt – of many neighborhood residents last Tuesday.

The Toll Brothers development of homes many call McMansions has jumped through its share of approval hurdles. Now that construction is well underway on another two lots, 3 and 4, residents aren’t thrilled with the noise, the truck traffic, and – especially last week – the threat to their already delicate environment.

Mark Fry of the Tarrytown Lakes Committee was on the site when Stiloski’s Towing was hoisting the fallen cement truck, concerned mainly for what officials characterized at the time as a “minor" fuel spill.

The driver of the truck was taken by Tarrytown Volunteer Ambulance Corps to the Phelps Memorial Hospital for a minor arm injury. He was also issued a traffic summons for operating a vehicle with suspended insurance.

“It ripped the whole diesel oil tank off the truck and blew the hydraulic system that keeps the cement churning," Fry said, estimating "about 40 gallons spilled and it’s a critical environmental area."

Fry spent the rest of the afternoon making calls to everyone from the developers (whose own Haz Mat team, site manager, engineer and project manager were not there) to the Department of Environmental Conservation (who were), but he wasn’t convinced much was happening on the clean up front.

“The response has been underwhelming,” Fry said.

Wendy Rosenbach, Communications Director for the DEC, did confirm his 40 gallon estimate and more. She said:

Motor oil, hydraulic fluid and diesel fuel were spilled from the truck. The truck has a 65 gallon diesel tank and DEC estimates approximately 40 gallons spilled. DEC also estimates about 8 to 10 gallons of motor oil and approximately 5 gallons of hydraulic fluid spilled. 

The truck was removed from the site, but as far as what was being done about the spills, Rosenbach said:

The construction company hired Royal Environmental to clean up the spill. The spill has been contained and only soil was impacted. The contractor took five soil samples, and DEC expects the results in a few days. No petroleum entered the nearby stream, but absorbent booms were placed on site as a precaution.

Rosenbach said DEC Spills staff were on site both the day of the incident and the following morning.

Still the Lakes Committee met later in the week to discuss the developer’s response to the spill and provide whatever support it could to village officials “to insure that this sensitive area is properly remediated, and that we don’t end up with ‘oily sheen’ and toxic fuel additives in the Tarrytown Lakes and adjoining wetlands next spring,” said Fry.

Meanwhile, residents have been abuzz with talk of what happens here on a normal day, with or without a cement truck spilling its contents.

Craig Allan had been taking stock of the cement trucks driving on Warren Street – three by his count that morning – and none which are supposed to be coming from that direction.

Valerie Kopelman, a homeowner on Wilson Park Drive said her house is shaking – and getting damaged – from these construction vehicles. Kopelman said:

I've been working at home more lately and my house has been shaking from trucks barreling back and forth through Wilson Park Drive and metal plates being thrown onto the road, picked up and thrown down again and again.  I am concerned about new and growing cracks in the plaster walls of my 112 year old house. It will be a new expense of me to address. Doesn't feel right. Someone will need to take responsibility for this damage. This narrow road was not intended as a freeway for huge vehicles.

Former neighborhood resident Brian Kelly, who was involved in earlier approval stages of this project, agreed that the road isn't strong enough to withstand this usage. Kelly said:

This issue [of weight limits on the road] was brought up by me several times before any ground was broken, as a built-in parameter to limit the scale of construction. As you know—and are becoming keenly aware—the staging and collateral effect of construction are more devastating than the structural footprints of the houses.

Kelly also speculated that the Wilson Park and Cobb Lane have no foundation, saying that’s why they repeatedly deteriorate and “why the Village wants them to remain categorized as ‘private’... even though they plow them and use them.”

Asks Rob DeRocker, in an email he forwarded to Planning Board members, where is an independent supervisor to monitor these sites?

"Planning Board members have been calling for an independent supervisor to be named for this project," DeRocker said. "This incident would seem to underscore the need for one. The construction on 14 houses in an environmentally delicate area has only just begun."

"Sort of typical Toll," Fry said.

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Charles Davey January 15, 2013 at 12:25 PM
As this is an environmental concern as well as planning, was the Environmental Committee TEAC involved in the planning decisions? As the area becomes more heavily built up environmental concerns are increasingly important and the Committee should have the right to review all planning decisions.
Krista Madsen January 15, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Added a line, which I previously forgot to mention, of driver getting a ticket for operating with lapsed insurance.
CriticalObserver January 15, 2013 at 02:51 PM
Another thought occurs to me... Why were they attempting to pour, on grade, without the use of a boom arm? From the photo attached, it very clear that the truck, loaded, had no business trying to off-load in that location.
Krista Madsen January 15, 2013 at 03:10 PM
It was unloading at another site and had backed into this site for the wash station.
CriticalObserver January 15, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Thank you for the clarification Krista.

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