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Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi said the Town may have a solution to hold back Con Edison's threat to drain a ten acre lake along Furnace Dock Road known as Railroad Pond.
Speaking to WestchesterNewsOnline.com, Puglisi said, "All I can say is I'm hopeful there is some way we can save the lake."
A citizens group in Cortlandt Manor is protesting Consolidated Edison's plans to drain its ten acre lake that runs along Furnace Dock Road.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has ordered the utility to make repairs on the dam, but Con Ed has decided to drain the lake, saying it's best to bring it back to its "natural state."
Railroad Pond was originally a stream that was dammed up by New York Central Railroad, a precursor to Metro North, in 1892, created as a means of servicing locomotives at the former Montrose train station and to supply water for the railroad's steam engines.
Railroad Pond was purchased by Con Edison in 1958 to build power lines from Indian Point to New York City. It has since maintained the dam and madeCitizens Group Joins Fight to Preserve Pond in Cortlandt changes to the Railroad Pond over the years. It has lowered the water table over the past 20 years, decreasing Railroad Pond's size to ten acres. It was originally double that.
Con Ed spokesman Chris Olert says the State DEC deemed Railroad Pond, a "high hazard dam," and ordered the utility to remove the dam altogether, a move he says was endorsed by environmental group, American Rivers. According to Olert, "What we are proposing to do is swap one habitat for another, return the site to its original condition, make the whole area safe,add parkland and hiking trails and public access, something which it does not currently have."
Olert claims the pond is six feet deep at the most, and is not home to any significant number of fish.
The citizens group that calls itself "Save Railroad Pond," is accusing Con Edison of trying to cut maintenance costs without regard for the environment. The group's spokesman, Radu Dumitrescu insists that is not the case. Said Dumitrescu, "There is no public benefit by removing the dam altogether, only loss of land, water and biodiversity. This is something that once done, cannot be undone."
Dumitrescu added, "We are sure there are endangered species of plants and animals in the area and we are hoping to order, if need be, a biodiversity study."
Cortlandt Town Supervisor Linda Puglisi and members of the Town Board support efforts to keep the lake as is. The Town Board recently passed a resoulution calling for the State DEC to prevent Con Ed from draining the lake. Opponents of the proposed change also argue that the dam serves to prevent flooding in surrounding communities as swollen small streams flow into it and it diverts the excess water into the nearby Hudson River.
Any changes made to the lake must be approved by the State Public Service Commission (PSC) and a public hearing must first be held in the Town of Cortlandt.
The group has launched a petition drive opposing Con Ed's plan to drain Railroad Pond. To date, it has more than 500 signatures.
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