May 30, 2003 Meeting Minutes
Saw Mill River Coalition
May 30, 2003, 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M.
Beczak Environmental Education Center, Yonkers, NY
Attendees: Andy Bicking, Scenic Hudson; Justin Bloom, Riverkeeper;
Carol Capobianco, Saw Mill River Coalition; Scott Cuppett, HR Estuary
Program; Joanne Dittersdorf, NPS Rivers & Trails; Sven Hoeger,
Creative Habitat; Joan Jennings, Yonkers Downtown/Waterfront BID; Pat
Korn, Beczak Environmental Education Center (BEEC); Rick Magder,
Groundwork Yonkers; Dick Manley, BEEC; Diane Miller, Westchester County
Planning Dept., Doug Reed, Hudson Basin River Watch; Marie Rippo,
Groundwork Yonkers; Lucille Sciacca, Philipse Manor Hall; Karis
Tenneson, Westchester County Planning Dept.; Bob Walters, BEEC.
Introductions: Carol Capobianco was introduced as the new project
coordinator for the Saw Mill River Coalition. All present introduced
themselves; new attendees included Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, and
Creative Habitat. On behalf of the Coalition, Carol presented Bob
Walters a matted photograph of the Saw Mill River, signed by attendees,
in honor of his retirement from the Beczak and his work as a founder of
Review of last meeting and updates: Rick Magder recapped the history of
the Saw Mill River Coalition, one of Groundwork’s main projects,
recounting the Hudson River Estuary Grant that allowed for the hiring
of a part-time project coordinator, Carol Capobianco, who began in
March 2003. The immediate objective is to expand the coalition and to
create a 3- to 5-year action plan. Among the long-term goals are
raising the profile of the river through education, expanding
recreational opportunities, monitoring and restoring water quality.
Rick announced that the Coalition was awarded an EPA grant to establish
a wet-weather water quality monitoring program. He will need help from
Coalition members in the coming week to finalize the grant. Question
was raised whether the USGS gage on the Saw Mill River is still active.
Scott and Carol will find out. MS4s were discussed and Dick said the
Coalition should encourage the public to conserve water before large
storms to prevent sewage overflows.
Mission review: Carol presented the current and proposed Mission
Statements for discussion. Suggestions for the proposed Mission
Statement included adding terminology pertaining to sustainable land
use, low-impact development, stewardship. Wording of the statement
should be definable and relatively non-controversial. Andy will send
Carol wording from other mission statements for ideas.
Work plan discussion: Carol asked attendees to send her names of people
and groups that could be brought into or partnered with the Coalition.
Joanne, Scott, and Diane volunteered to form a committee that will work
with Carol in developing a draft watershed action plan for Coalition
• Scott Cuppett spoke about the HREP grants. The Coalition can
apply under numerous categories. He suggested perhaps focusing on
• Karis Tenneson spoke about the Westchester County
Water Monitoring Program. Sites will be monitored on the Saw Mill River
and other county water bodies with volunteers, who must go through a
three-session training program. Two or more Saw Mill River sites will
be determined and monitored according to interest of volunteers.
EPA/Westchester County/Hudson Basin River Watch share the same
protocols. Coalition data could be put into County Water Monitoring
Program database, which could be adapted to include storm data
parameters.. In discussing the Coalition’s planned water quality
monitoring program under the EPA grant, Sven mentioned that the project
should have relevance to get public support. We should determine “What
are we trying to find out?” Baseline? Fisheries health? Water quantity?
Doug noted that coordinating volunteers for water monitoring in
addition to other tasks is too big a job for one person. HBRW will
help. Saunders High students will do the monitoring; Irvington and
Hastings high schools have also expressed interest. Additional
volunteers may be needed, especially after storm events. Continued…
• Pat Korn described the fish study being done on the Saw Mill
River through an Estuary Grant awarded the Beczak. John Klonowski and
Tony Pappantoniou of Lehman College will carry out the study. The study
may also compare the fish found in the Saw Mill River to those found in
the Bronx River.
• Joanne Dittersdorf reported on the meeting she and
Carol had with restoration specialists from the National Park Service.
Carol and Joanne led the group to eight sites along the lower end of
the Saw Mill River to discuss possible restoration projects. Many are
long-term challenges. Joanne shared a brochure of two “success
stories,” one in Kansas and one in Michigan, of daylighting rivers.
• Diane Miller reported that the County has been working with the Army
Corps of Engineers on a management plan for the Saw Mill River, which
will include restoration project sites. She encouraged the Coalition to
get involved in the planning process. A Reconnaissance study for flood
control and ecosystem restoration was done in 1999. The Feasibility
study will take approximately 40 months to complete. There are
preliminary designs for two restoration projects — Woodlands Lake and
the Stump Dump.
Old business: Diane would like the Coalition to revisit Streamwalk.
• Justin reported on the Draft EIS for the proposed Home
Depot in Mount Pleasant, which would denude 15 forested acres.
• Carol showed a photograph of a dumping site along the banks of the river in
Ardsley, seen from the South County Trailway bike path, to discuss the
Coalition’s role in such matters. It was noted that the Coalition needs
to become a facilitator; to coordinate all the efforts of Coalition
members, tapping into each organization’s strengths; to raise the
public’s awareness of the river and of pollution; and perhaps to have a
hotline for the public to report dumping, etc. At this time, the
Coalition does not have the staff do support a hotline. Justin
mentioned that the County has hired Ron Gatto as Director of
Environmental Security. Reports can be sent to him or to Riverkeeper’s
• Doug announced a training workshop in Warrensburg, NY,
• Sven suggested reviewing the Center for Watershed
Conservation web site to learn the latest techniques for reducing
Next meeting: Friday, July 25, 10:00 A.M. Location to be determined.