The Department of Public Works is responsible for the physical upkeep and maintenance of all properties and roadways belonging to the City of Mount Vernon. The department has the additional responsibility of ensuring that all services relating to the physical condition of the city enhances the quality of life levels set forth by local, state and federal standards.
The department is divided into operating units under the supervision of the Commissioner of Public Works. Each unit is responsible for all matters falling under their respective jurisdiction:
Bureau of Engineering
The Bureau of Engineering jurisdiction over land surveying, making borings, drafting, designing, and preparation of maps, diagrams and profiles relating to the City of Mount Vernon. The Bureau also prepares, evaluates and inspects plans and specifications for the construction, alteration and repair of public works, other than buildings.
Work performed by or on behalf of the city or under the supervision of the Commissioner of Public Works that requires engineering principles is reviewed by the Bureau of Engineering. In accordance with the Code of the City of Mount Vernon, permits are issued through the Department of Public Works for the following:
- street openings
- curb lowering
- street and sidewalk obstruction
Servicing over one hundred ninety-five (195) miles of sewer lines, thirty-two hundred (3,200) catch-basins and three thousand (3,000) manholes keeps the Bureau of Sewers busy.
Bureau employees work year round building manholes and sewer basins, and removing obstructions from blocked up sewers. In the winter snow is removed from manholes and catch basins.
In March 2003, the City of Mount Vernon prepared an initial storm water management program for City owned and operated facilities. The aim of this program is to control storm water runoff discharges from the City facilities to the waters of the United States in accordance with the requirements of federal Phase II water regulations under the Clean Water Act. In addition, this program is in support of the City’s March 2003 filing of a Notice of Intent (NOI) to be covered by a Phase II SPEDES General Permit available through the New York State Department of Environment Conservation (NYSDEC) for such discharges.
The aim of the Clean Water Act, the federal Phase II storm water regulations and the program proposed in this document is to reduce to the “maximum extent practicable” pollutants in storm water discharges. The concern for controlling storm water discharges can be traced to the 1972 Clean Water Act’s Section 208 provisions for evaluating the impacts of and recommending controls for point and nonpoint source discharges in conjunction with the development of hundreds of area-wide water quality management plans known as “208 plans.” These plans were completed in the late 1970s/early 1980s and for the most part, identified the need to study further the specific impacts of urban runoff and alternative control measures to alleviate or prevent those impacts.
As a result of the findings of many of the 208 plans, particularly those in the northeast and in and around urban areas of the nation, a nationwide pilot program known as Nationwide Urban Runoff Program (NURP) studied 26 urban localities in detail. In 1983, through NURP, USEPA concluded that runoff was indeed causing significant water quality impacts and that a wide range of controls were possible to address those impacts.
In 1985, two additional studies confirmed the NURP findings. This included a nonpoint source assessment conducted by representatives of state agencies and urban storm water database study of 22 metropolitan areas that was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. These various studies resulted in Congress amending the Clean Water Act in 1987 to require the permitting and control of urban storm water discharges.
The above studies, was well as other studies, identified a variety of pollutants in storm water discharges. These pollutants include suspended solids, sediments, bacteria, nutrients, pesticides, herbicides, toxics, floatables, oil, grease, heavy metals, synthetic organics, petroleum hydrocarbons and oxygen demanding substance. The adverse impact of these pollutants in storm water discharges include closed beaches, closed shellfish area, toxic contamination causing fish consumption bans, beach and shoreline litter, and floatables, siltation of marina and shipping channels, habit/wetland degradation, and stream bank erosion.
The sources of pollutants in storm water runoff include urban streets, lawn, driveways, parking lots, gas stations, bus depots, golf courses, construction sites, marinas, trash, sand/salt commercial and industrial areas, highway yards atmospheric fallout, direct rainfall (i.e., acid rain) and a variety of other activities such as landfills, recycling facilities. The EPA’s 1996 National Water Quality Inventory reported that urban runoff was leading cause of water quality problems in the country, causing impairment in 469 of the nations estuaries; 21 percent of the lakes, ponds and reservoirs; and 13 percent of the rivers and streams.
Under the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA’s) December 1999 Phase II storm water regulations, thousands of communities across the country with populations under 100,000 will be required to control urban storm water discharges. The Phase II regulations were issued nearly 10 years after the agency issued its Phase I regulations. The Phase I regulations required the control of storm water discharges from larger communities with populations greater than 100,000, and from 11 Categories of industrial activity, including construction sites disturbing more than 5 acres.
Under USEPA’s Phase II program, the thousands communities (villages, towns, cities, etc.) across the nation must and implements a six-part program that reduces pollutants in storm runoff to the “maximum extent practicable.” This program must include a public education program, a public involvement program, detection and elimination of illicit/illegal connections, controls for construction sites disturbing more than 1 acre, controls for new developments and redevelopment, and pollution prevention/good housekeeping practices as part of the operation and maintenance of the communities’ storm sewer systems.
In New York State, discharges from hundreds of municipal separate storm systems (MS4′s) that serve under 100,000 people, and are covered by USEPA’s Phase II program, can receive permit coverage through a State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) General Permit, provided that a Notice of Intent (NOI) was filed by the municipality to be covered by the General SPDES Permit and a storm water management plan is developed and implemented to satisfy the USEPA requirements.
A fleet of 17 sanitation vehicles picks up approximately thirty-seven thousand five hundred (37,500) tons of garbage and refuse from two sections of the city.
Special provisions exist that provide owners or tenants of buildings used exclusively for dwelling purposes to have additional service of garbage removal from a point within their premises at a nominal service charge.
Rubbish, those items not considered household garbage, for example, household furnishings, yard waste, etc. are collected once per week in each of the different sections of the city.
In 1992 the City of Mount Vernon instituted a recycling program that currently ranks #5 in the county in recycling tonnage. Approximately forty-five hundred (4,500) tons of recyclable material is collected and processed in the Material Recovery Facility (MRF), the cornerstone for recycling efforts for most municipalities in Westchester.
Highway Maintenance has jurisdiction over the construction, maintenance, alteration, repair, care, paving, flagging, lighting and improvement of the streets, highways, sidewalks, crosswalks, gutters, vaults, drains, curbs and public places of the city.
The bureau also oversees the construction, alteration, repair and maintenance of docks and bridges belong to the city. In serious snowstorms Highway Maintenance helps to remove snow and sands icy streets.
There are approximately ninety-six (96) miles of local highway, one hundred eighty (180) miles of sidewalk and fifteen (15) bridges that are maintained in the City of Mount Vernon.
The installation of new street lighting equipment, the inspection of street lighting equipment to determine the need for replacement or repairs and the general upkeep and maintenance of street lighting equipment are the primary functions of this Public Works bureau.
With approximately five thousand (5,000) streetlights in the City of Mount Vernon, the Bureau of Street Lighting performs an important service for drivers and pedestrians traveling through the city’s streets.
Having jurisdiction over the repair, maintenance, fueling, servicing and inspection of all rolling stock and vehicles, whether motor-driven or otherwise, owned by the City of Mount Vernon, except the fire-fighting equipment upon fire apparatus the Bureau of Motor Vehicle Control keeps city vehicles moving.
The storage and parking when not in actual use of all rolling stock and vehicles owned by the City of Mount Vernon is also the responsibility of this bureau. Approximately 100 rolling stock/vehicles are inventoried and assigned for use by the various departments, bureaus, officers and employees of the city.
The Bureau of Parks has jurisdiction over the care and maintenance, superintendence, management and improvement of parks, including benches, drinking fountains, buildings and structures therein, belonging to the city.
The bureau shall also have the care and maintenance of the city’s recreation facilities, and all parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, recreations centers and the buildings, structures, parking lots, equipment and appurtenances located therein. There are approximately ten (10) parks/fields that are maintained by the bureau.
The planting, preservation and care of shade trees, shrubs, flowers and lawns in all public parks, recreation facilities, streets, avenues and public places in the city are done by the Bureau.
The Traffic Bureau has jurisdiction over the installation, maintenance and repair of electronic controls and auxiliary equipment relating to the operation of traffic lights and controls. Employees perform the installation and repair of underground and overhead wires and cables in addition to maintaining and repairing traffic light fixtures, relays and controllers.
The Traffic Bureau periodically inspects all traffic signals, conducts traffic studies and surveys, such as traffic counts, speed time delays, condition diagrams and traffic warrants.
There are approximately one hundred fifty-nine (159) traffic light intersections, forty-four thousand (44,000) traffic signs, ten (10) miles of double yellow lines and four hundred (400) cross walks/stop lines that are maintained by the bureau.
The Department of Public Works is also responsible for the maintenance of City Hall and all other buildings owned by the City.