RAVENA — As the construction project at the new Cumberland Farms property on Route 9W nears completion, the engineering company went before the Ravena Village Board to make a request.
The company is looking to install a sprinkler system to keep the newly planted grass and other landscaping looking green.
“We are here tonight to make a request to the village board and we are also going to hopefully submit some plans to the town,” Jim Gillespie, from Bohler Engineering, told the board at its Aug. 7 meeting. “As you know, Cumberland Farms is well under construction, we are a few weeks out from finishing that.”
“During the planning process,” Gillespie added, “we made an oversight in the fact that to install an irrigation system, we will need separate approval from the village and a separate plan submitted to make that happen. We reviewed the code and we are here tonight to discuss that and hopefully get that approval.”
Gillespie said the lawn would be relatively small, so not much water would be needed.
“There is not a lot of green space and the lawn is pretty small, but we would like to be able to irrigate it and establish it,” Gillespie said. “We understand there is limited water pressure, water is a concern and irrigation is a concern, but given the size of this lawn and the amount of landscaping, it is very small. There are some nice opportunities in the front — we did do some landscaping along the frontage and we would like that to look nice.”
Gillespie said the company would be willing to use the sprinkler system during off-peak hours to minimize its impact on the water supply system.
Jason Leonard, chief operator at the Ravena water plant, addressed the issue.
“We normally don’t do commercial sprinkler systems, simply because our system is so small and we don’t have the capacity to feed them,” Leonard told the board.
He added that any request for a sprinkler system would have to be approved by the village board, and would have to include details such as how much water would be used daily.
Bailey said approving the request would cause other problems.
“We just turned down the school district for a sprinkler system; they wanted sprinklers at the athletic fields,” Bailey said.
Similar requests by Rite Aid and Stewart’s Shops were also declined over concerns with the water supply.
Leonard added, “We do a lot of sprinkler restrictions in the summer simply because when they are on, I can’t keep up with it, so even if you had an irrigation system, in the summer you wouldn’t be able to use the sprinkler anyway.”
Mayor Bill Misuraca said sprinkler systems can waste a great deal of water.
“It is so wasteful. I have a giant garden and I water by hand. It is much more environmentally sustainable than a sprinkler,” Misuraca said. “The fact that we did decline for the other businesses… We spend a lot of money treating the water, and to use it just to keep some plants green — I would have no issue with a few things, [such as] if you wanted to do a well and use your own water, [or] if you wanted to tie into our water and put in a hose.”
Misuraca said using a soaker hose would be a possibility.
“I did some quick research and found the water consumption on that is substantially lower than a sprinkler and it is much more controllable where you put it,” he said. “That is something I would entertain.”
Deputy Mayor Bill Bailey added, “How can we allow you to sprinkle when we have a water restriction, and we don’t allow homeowners to do that?”
Another possibility would be installing a well on the property, which would make a soaker hose viable. Leonard said that as long as a property uses its own well, there would be no regulations against a soaker hose.
Gillespie responded that a sprinkler system would “work better for the grass areas.”
Village attorney Michael Biscone said they could concentrate on the more visible sections of the property, such as along Route 9W and on the south side.
“In the rear, it’s superfluous,” Biscone said.
Bailey expressed reservations about approving a system after rejecting proposals from similar, nearby businesses.
“I personally have a problem saying ‘yes’ to you when we already turned down other businesses near the same intersection,” Bailey said.
Village Trustee Nancy Warner noted that if the company uses well water, that changes the situation, and that viable options were being presented.
Bailey reiterated that it put the village in an “awkward position.”
Gillespie said he would take the ideas back to Cumberland Farms officials to see what they thought of them and would return to the board at a later date.
Village resident Laura Johnston came to the podium next to express her own concerns about the plan.
“My concern is that you said ‘no’ to other businesses and I am afraid that you are opening a can of worms here,” Johnston said, adding that she was concerned that allowing a company to use water to irrigate its landscape could impact the water supply and water rates local residents pay.
Biscone pointed out that if the water came from a well it would not affect the village at all — and that it would be untreated water that came from the creek.
Misuraca explained how the water supply works.
“We get all of our water for free from the Alcove, and this contract is ancient and binding,” Misuraca said. “When we run low on water, Jason [Leonard] just calls up and says, ‘Hey, we need a million gallons.’ It costs us $12, and they send, literally, a million.”
Warner pointed out that it would in no way impact water rates in the future.
Officials also agreed that if Cumberland Farms were offered the opportunity to do this with a well, other companies in the area would be given the same opportunity.