State, county and municipal authorities are investing $150 million to resolve longstanding water infrastructure and related public health challenges in the city of Mount Vernon.
Governor Kathy Hochul on April 15 announced the investment and what her office described as a precedent-setting three-way partnership with Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard and Westchester County Executive George Latimer.
At an event at Mount Vernon’s City Hall, the Governor also announced the immediate launch of the $7 million ‘Third Street Sewer Project,’ that, when complete, will ensure reliable wastewater service for 500 nearby households currently served by temporary pumps and a makeshift system staged in the street to ensure adequate wastewater collection.
“In too many communities of color like Mount Vernon, critical water infrastructure has been left to fall into disrepair, but today we are setting an example for the nation by advancing environmental justice, improving quality of life for residents, and addressing decades of disinvestment,” Hochul said. “When I met with Mayor Patterson-Howard and heard about the seriousness of this crisis in her city, I immediately directed my administration to coordinate with the city and the county and right this systemic wrong. I am so proud of our collective and collaborative efforts to deliver this transformative environmental justice victory.”
The State-County-City partnership was memorialized in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite priority projects and outline roles, responsibilities, and available funding for this city-wide effort.
The memo formalizes the three-way partnership between the city of Mount Vernon, Westchester County, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), representing multiple state agencies, including the use of $7 million in Clean Water Infrastructure Act funds to immediately launch engineering, design, and construction of the Third Street Sewer Project. Work on projects across the city will take place in phases over five to seven years after a comprehensive assessment of the city’s current infrastructure.
The State’s Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) will provide $8 million to fund emergency repairs and jump start long-term planning for future projects, including lead pipe replacement. Funding includes a $5 million interest-free emergency loan and a $1 million grant to survey lead service lines in this community and to develop a replacement plan.
EFC will also dedicate $2 million for engineering consultant services to accelerate work in this community. Additionally, Mount Vernon, DEC and EFC have committed to undertake an asset management program that will inventory, assess and track the city’s clean water infrastructure and help create a plan to fund and maintain Mount Vernon’s water quality infrastructure over the long-term.
The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery will supplement the public infrastructure improvements with a $3 million pilot program to mitigate environmental hazards and make resiliency upgrades to private property. Participating homes will be eligible for rehabilitation of damaged pipes, replacement of lead service lines, and other needed environmental remediation.