Ask Westchester, May 2012: the Kensico Dam, North Salem's Speed Limits



Q: I have a three-part question for you. First, could the Kensico Dam ever crack? Second, if so, what would happen? Third, will they ever open the road going across the top? —Jessica DeBerra, Valhalla

A: Alas, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection handles much of the work on the dam. And we’re pretty confident that Corey Chambliss at the DEP, though helpful, wouldn’t say the dam could ever crack, no matter what—not with Jack Bauer no longer around to save us if it did. But Chambliss did assure us that the DEP just completed nearly $23 million in capital improvements at the Kensico Dam, finishing a process that began in 2005. So you should feel pretty safe. As for driving across the top of the Kensico Dam, good news: “Yes!” Corey tells us. “We plan to re-open for pedestrian and bicycle access.” But leave your electric-hybrid SU-whatever at home, as the dam will not be open for vehicle access.

Q: In East Irvington, there is a water tank located in a wooded area near where Mt. Pleasant Lane ends in the area that borders Tarrytown (where Gracemere was located). Prior to the town building this water tank, there was an abandoned 1950s house with a swimming pool and tennis courts, but it has always been a mystery as to what it was. Let’s see how good you are!
—Lucia Madler, via e-mail

A: Oh, we’re good. We surround ourselves with information sources who are good, thus making us look like we know stuff. Rob Yasinsac, who knows just about everything about the Hudson Valley and is a definite friend of the mag, provided a few old-timey maps that revealed…well, not old buildings near the land you referenced, which was probably on—or very close to—the Lyndhurst estate (then owned by the Gould family). But there were some mansions a little farther away that matched your description and could have been abandoned pre-water tank, including one near the end of Round A Bend Road that Yasinsac informs us was once owned by Father Divine, the black spiritual leader who claimed to be God. God. Now that’s the type of source with whom we need to surround ourselves.

Q:  What was the outcome of the legislation introduced in Albany (“Town Watch,” May 2011) that would allow North Salem to set its own speed limits? We could certainly use lower limits on some of our South Salem roads.  
—Pam Phillips, via e-mail

A: You refer to the legislation put forth by Assemblyman Steve Katz about a year ago that would give the Northern Westchester town the power to regulate its own roads. Surely it must have passed by now, right? Hah! The only things slower than the speed limits on back county roads are Albany’s politicos (though this Cuomo fellow seems to avoid boggery better than his recent predecessors). Assemblyman Katz’s office informs us that it is “in the process of possibly reintroducing the bill,” since it is “stuck in the transportation committee,” while the corresponding Senate bill has since been killed. So, while that’s Albany-speak for “Don’t get your hopes up,” just pick your own speed for the time being. That’ll show ’em.

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