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Village Board Overwhelmed by Public Criticism

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Darleen Green didn't hold back when she addressed the Village Board of Trustees at Monday night's contentious meeting, where a slew of residents demanded action to prevent their homes from flooding as they did during Tropical Storm Irene.

Like several residents who took advantage of the public comment period at the beginning of the 7:30 p.m. meeting, Green lives on Howard Avenue, which runs along the Mamaroneck River and flooded again the week after Tropical Storm Irene.

"I'm going to say it and you don't have to like it, but i'm going to say it; I think ya'll is treating us like low-life dogs," said Green, whose later comments led trustee John Hofstetter to walk out of the meeting. "We've been sitting here and listening to you all these times about the floods. But when I speak up with this black face, you don't want to hear it."

Hofstetter later returned to the board and asked the public, "What do you want the village to do?"

Myriam Valle, another Howard Avenue resident, came prepared to answer that question. "I need you to call a man named Rick Lord," she said.

Lord is the chief of mitigation programs at the New York State Office of Emergency Management, who told Valle about FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance grant program .

"They told me that our town needs to sponsor us as a community, and when this money gets funneled down, people like me, if you have our name on a list, we are the ones that can benefit from this assistance," said Valle, who added she doesn't qualify for certain federal assistance programs because her income is too high.

Like Valle, Peggy Jackson recognized the village cannot fix the problems themselves.

"We need to get a letter writing campaign out and start making as much noise as we can," said Jackson.

Both Mayor Norman Rosenblum and trustee Toni Ryan echoed that statement.

"I would like to tell you that we have an answer, we don't," Rosenblum said. "We have procedures that we will institute and continue. We're going to spend our own money, but we're not going to lie to you, it's limited."

The village has removed between 20 and 30 tons of garbage and debris from the rivers over the past two years, said village manager Richard Slingerland. In collaboration with the Town of Rye, the village will be spending close to $3 million to fix the Jefferson Avenue bridge and remove the center abudtment, which Slingerland said affects the flow of the river.

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