Cracking the Case on the Elmsford Morning Siren
PLUS: Closing the Pipeline Road entrance to the Bronx River Parkway and discovering what lurks under Westchester County.
The Elmsford Fire Department’s siren goes off whenever there’s a call—and at 8 am every morning. Apparently, they’re not worried about scaring residents daily.
Photo by Adam Nunez
Q: I have lived in Elmsford for two years and am inquiring about the loud sirens that go off every morning at 8 am and periodically throughout the day. I am not a complainer, as I use it as a backup should my own alarm clock fail in the morning, but I was always interested in the genesis/meaning of the siren. —Eric Gerringer, Elmsford
A: Nationalized healthcare? Whatever. Cash for old cars? Boring! In Westchester, we do social programs right. And that’s why, Eric, Elmsford has sounded the town alarm clock every morning since before 1910. Because, as they say, ‘Elmsford—the village that never sleeps…past 8 am.’
April Fool! Did we get ya? No? Next year, then. So, you’re not hearing things. The sound to which you refer, according to Elmsford Village Administrator Michael C. Mills, is an 8 am daily test of the Elmsford Fire Department siren. It has rung every single day since the inception of the fire department, which was slightly before 1910. It also sounds out every fire and EMS call, so, if you’re hearing it periodically throughout the day, it’s apparently not been a good day for Elmsford. And, while not legally required to ring every morning, it has become ‘traditional.’ You know, like how people ‘traditionally’ end up needing the fire department or EMS more when they don’t get enough sleep.
Q: Why was the Pipeline Road entrance to the Bronx River Parkway closed? It was Edgemont’s quickie route onto the Bronx River Parkway. When will it be back? —Norma Segal, Edgemont
A: Norma, first off, ‘quickie route’? Have you read this column before? You might as well bring fresh meat to the lions. And second, what are you doing talking publicly about the Pipeline? That’s always been our little secret path to speed (er, um, drive at the speed limit, officers) from Hartsdale down to Scarsdale. For those who don’t know, Pipeline Road is a bit of a relic from before the construction of the Bronx River Parkway, when it was the main route through the Bronx Valley (now the Bronx River Reservation)—which, back then, was generally used as an open sewer pipe. The road parallels the parkway and exits onto it southbound in Scarsdale. But remember that new Crane Road Bridge going up? Turns out the construction requires closure of that little exit all the way through 2015. But at least there’s no more sewer there, so, ya know, look on the bright side during your ‘quickies.’
Q: Please tell me about that little tan stone house on the edge of the reservoir, which can be seen from Interstate 684 [in Harrison]. It is lighted on the outside at night. My husband thought it was a pump station for the water, but it’s too nice for that, I think. Some kind of ‘caretaker’s residence’? And what road leads down to it? I’d like to see it up close.—Margaret DiBuono, via e-mail
A: The cast-stone-trimmed, lead-glassed, gable-roofed building you see from Interstate 684 is the Rye Lake Treatment Plant of the Westchester Joint Water Works. It houses electrical equipment, a chlorine tank, and a small office in the attic. Not exactly ideal conditions for a permanent residence. Next to the house is indeed a small pumping station. The land it’s on actually belongs to the City of New York (consider it a consulate of sorts). But the station’s primary purpose is to treat water for consumption in the Town of Harrison, Village of Mamaroneck, and Town of Mamaroneck with chlorine, fluoride, and a corrosion-control chemical. The building was erected in 1937 and, 60 years later, achieved local landmark status by the Town of Harrison.
Q: What’s under Westchester?—Erica Valentine, Yonkers
A: Not much oil or gas, if that’s what you were thinking. So you can put away the shovel and be glad we have a bunch of those “red states” that do. But we do have some natural resources of value. For example, emery. Yes, the same hard metallic powder used on the eponymous board is abundant in the County. Westchester also has a significant amount of iron and titanium. So, while we can’t necessarily power our buildings, we can certainly supply the materials to build them. We’ve mined copper in the area, too, so we can also provide the wiring. Not a metal fan? That’s okay—granite has been quarried in Harrison for almost a century. Other resources found in the ground include tungsten, calcium, silica, and dead millionaires.
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