Fix the sewer system before you build

Community View in The Journal News

June 18, 2006

Peter Strasser

I thank The Journal News for the recent article on sewage spills. This is a growing problem affecting an already very undersized county system.

However, I would like to set the record straight on a comment made by Julius Graifman, chairman of the Rockland County Sewer District No. 1 Board of Commissioners, in which he is quoted as saying "that people opposed to a religious group project on Hillside Avenue were trying to use the sewer district as a tool to halt the project."

I find this statement offensive because he is placing it with a religious group. This issue is not religious, but one of the many, many problems that we all share in Rockland.

I have lived on Hillside Avenue for almost 25 years and have raised a family here. This road, like many others in Rockland, is an old, somewhat rural road and is on the 1854 Rockland map. I, along with many other like-minded homeowners, are against over development, no matter what is built off this road or any other road in the county.

We have very compelling reasons for this. The reasons are all based on health, safety and welfare.

I have personally witnessed a number of sewer spills over the last couple of years around my property, with sewage running into the Saddle River, which cuts through my property. Because of this I pressed a Freedom of Information request on the sewer district to find out how many spills have occurred in Rockland over the last five years and how many penalties have been paid to date.

The response was almost a million gallons and until now, no penalties.

As a private homeowner witnessing sewage spills near the bottom of Hillside Avenue into the Saddle River, any reasonable person, especially a parent, would question a large development being put on the top of the hill, connected to an already undersized sewer system.

I believe that all large developments must be put on hold in Rockland until our sewer systems are able to handle the increasing flow.

The writer lives in Monsey.