August 17, 2012

Notes from the watershed

Ironic that the Westchester County Department of Health is busying itself with six or eight outdoor tables at local Katonah eateries to cut down on septic pollution to our area reservoirs.

The Town of Bedford grants permits for outdoor seating, but the total capacity is determined by the county. Each restaurant has a maximum number of seats permitted based on septic usage, according to the health department. For the first time, the health department announced a rules change indicating that the seat count include a combined indoor/outdoor count rather than excepting the couple dozen tables placed on Katonah Avenue in summer.

The potential for a serious or even mild impact from these uses — particularly in a time when Katonah residents are paying dearly for a water filtration plant — is highly debatable. While it can’t be denied that these regulations are on the books, their enforcement is somewhat akin to pulling over drivers going 32 in a 30 mph zone. The county would be wise to address outdoor seating exemptions for restaurants in Katonah and other watershed hamlets, bringing a sense of sanity to this admirable environmental goal and to provide an atmosphere for a thriving downtown.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, activists gathered in Mount Kisco to protest the controversial natural gas extraction process known as hydrofracking, a process that the DEC finds less objectionable than dining al fresco. When religious leaders and grassroots activists stood in front of Mount Kisco Town Hall to bring their message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his hometown last weekend, they were taking the hydrofracking fight to a new level. The protesters and opponents of the plan to drill beneath the shale in New York and neighboring states have long argued that the drilling plan could contaminate water and reservoirs, destroy forests and cause lasting environmental and seismic damage. With their gathering, to the scientific evidence they added a moral component.

Fracking uses millions of gallons of clean water for a single well. Beyond the impact on our water supply, the proposed density of fracking could pockmark and fragment our landscape with drill pads, access roads, compressor stations and pipelines. It could contaminate fields and lead to a significant loss of agricultural lands and forest. Worse, an accident or pollution of the reservoirs that feed New York City could be irreversible.

Governor Cuomo has indicated that he will allow drilling in certain parts of New York, and a decision from the governor could come at any time. A recent New York Times article depicted DEC commissioner Joe Martens as amenable to fracking.

Yet as of Aug. 1, almost 100 New York towns have banned fracking, including major cities such as Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo. Many of these have also banned accepting fracking wastes, the toxic wastewater that results from the process.

With a decline in natural gas prices due to overabundance, and questions about some of the industry’s major players tactics, we add our voices to those who see no place for this controversial and unnecessary procedure within our state.

Last month, a bipartisan coalition of 77 lawmakers asked for the addition of a health impact assessment to the fracking environment impact statement, one of six concerns outlined in a letter sent to the DEC. They believe that the state has not yet done enough to examine the potential effects of hydrofracking on New York’s water supply or land.

In Brooklyn, a judge is hearing arguments against the Army Corps of Engineers and the Delaware River Basin Commission for their failure to comply with federal law by proposing gas drilling regulations without first conducting a full environmental review as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by a coalition including the National Parks Conservation Association, Hudson Riverkeeper and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

The court cases drag on, but all that could change if Gov. Cuomo gives the go-ahead to the drilling process.

Meanwhile, try finding an outdoor table in Katonah. Cheers!

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York



Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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