Proposed Munsey tower questioned

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Village of Munsey Park trustees and residents are questioning Manhasset-Lakeville Water District plans to replace the village’s water tower with one the same height and size but with the capacity to hold 250,000 more gallons of water, saying officials should consider alternative options.

“Plans were getting far ahead of what would be an open conversation,” said Jonathan Lippmann, a member of the village’s Building Advisory Committee who gave a presentation about the water district’s plan during Wednesday’s trustees meeting. “There are a number of residents that are concerned about this.”

The water district has proposed to replace the 85-year-old, 500,000 gallon-capacity tower along Eakins Road in Munsey Park with one of the same 165-foot height that holds 750,000 gallons. A communications antenna that was built next to the tower in October, but was later removed after residents questioned their lack of notification about the project, would be installed on the side of the tower. 

Water district officials presented an overview of the project to the board during a non-public meeting on March 5. A public meeting about the project is tentatively scheduled for April 8.

Manhasset-Lakeville Commissioner Donald O’Brien has said replacing the tower is the most cost-effective option and that the project would be funded using $3.2 million from the district’s reserve fund.

Village of Munsey Park Deputy Mayor Sean Haggerty on Wednesday said building a water pump would be less expensive than a new water tower.

“The price of a pump is $31,000 and the water district has a $7.5 million budget,” Haggerty said. It would cost $3 million for the water tower project.”

Mayor Frank DeMento said a water pump, rather than a water tower, would also better maintain village aesthetics.

“Munsey Park is all about aesthetics,” DeMento said. “This is an 18-month to two-year project. This is impactful. We have an opportunity here to take a tower out of the sky.”

Resident Henry Hinz questioned how safe the new tower would be if it has the same dimensions as the current tower but holds more water.

Residents were also concerned with the safety in having a water tower that would contain 250,000 more gallons of water than the current one so close to a residential area.

“Seven hundred-fifty thousand gallons of water in a residential area is ridiculous,” Munsey Park resident Henry Hinz said. “What if it collapses, either through natural means or terrorism. Seven hundred-fifty thousand gallons will wash the nearby homes away.”

In other developments:

• The board of trustees is considering an investigation of revenues from the village’s utility tax that have gone uncollected. 

Trustees said they do not know how much money has not been collected, but would hire an outside firm to explore the question if the missing revenue was between $7,500 and $15,000.

“The tax collects about $68,000 a year,” said Haggerty. “The numbers have dropped so much, a revenue drop sparks concern. 

• Village officials are continuing efforts to digitize records kept at Munsey Park Village Hall, a process trustees said could cost up to $18,000..

“We want residents to have easy access to these files. It’s all public information,” DeMento said.

Village Clerk Barbara Miller said that no files would go out on individual homes unless the homeowner requests copies.

“You’d be able to look at it online, only at terminals in the building,” she said.

• The village has spent $4,000 on additional salt inventory that Miller said should last through the end of the winter.

• The board will introduce the village’s proposed budget at its next meeting on Friday, April 9.

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