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Businesses, Legislators Call for Flood Mitigation

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Jim Bilotta told Westchester County legislators holding a press conference in his Bilotta Kitchens show room Friday that he spent $3 million repairing flood damage in 2007 and $1 million after Tropical Storm Irene devastated Mamaroneck's flood-prone areas.

Bilotta, whose business is on Mamaroneck Avenue, warned that if nothing is done to stop future flooding in Mamaroneck, businesses won't spend money to rebuild, they will leave.

"We need more flooding projects moving forward from communities being hardest hit," said county Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont). "It's just not fair to make people wait for help when they desperately need it now."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a 30-month study of Westchester's flooding problems, but Myers, in addition to legislators Bill Ryan (D-White Plains) and MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-the-Hudson), are calling for more immediate action.

Four flood mitigation projects began in 2009 as part of a $4.5 million bond, but only one - the Gardens Lake project in the Town of Mamaroneck - has been completed. Six others - in New Rochelle, Yonkers, Briarcliff Manor, Harrison, Larchmont, Pelham and Bronxville - are still in the preliminary stages.

Further complicating things, all three legislators noted, is County Executive Rob Astorino's proposed decrease to the funding committed in 2007 over five years to flood mitigation projects.

"It is absolutely critical to begin making progress on flood mitigation, which is becoming a persistent problem in too many parts of Westchester," Shimsky said.

Down the street from Bilotta's custom cabinetry business, the owner of Tri-City Auto Parts, Vincent Marconi, is fed up with the flooding on Mamaroneck Avenue.

"Where we sit seems to be a dumping ground," he said.

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