In the spirit of open government and before spending taxpayers' money, Yorktown town board members said they wanted to hear from the public on the issue of whether or not they should continue adding fluoride to Yorktown's water.
After hearing from the Westchester County Commissioner of Health as well as a number of local dentists, pediatricians and residents Tuesday night, Yorktown town board members voted 3-1 to continue fluoridating the town's water.
"At this point, I've heard enough, I made up my mind to continue fluoridation," Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said.
Currently, under a local law that was passed in 1965, the town is required to fluoridate its water supply. However, earlier this month the town temporarily discontinued fluoridation because of maintenance at the Catskill and Amawalk facilities.
"We will continue with looking to make the repairs," Grace said on Tuesday.
Yorktown Councilman Dave Paganelli said the the cost for the repairs at both facilities is estimated to be between $150,000 and $250,000. He said the discussion on Tuesday was focused on residents having a say on the issue and not so much on the board deciding on the pros and cons of fluoride.
Severeal health professionals, including Westchester County Commissioner of Health Sherlita Amler, Yorktown resident and dentist Carl Tegtmeier, Jefferson Valley pediatric dentists Jennifer Blair and Benjamin Dancygier, spoke out in favor of adding fluoride and cited its effectiveness in preventing tooth decay and cavities.
"The Center for Disease Control has declared that fluoridation is one of the 10 most important public health achievements of the 20th century," Amler said. "We've been drinking fluoridated water in this country for about 65 years. And so it has a long track record of safety and we know that it does prevent tooth decay."
Amler said there are people who have concerns over the safety of the fluoride, but she said it has been determined to be safe. She said anti-fluoride comments have not been based on enough scientific evidence.
"Your oral health is key and essential to the well-being to the rest of your health," she said. "A lot of people think dental health is not important and it's extremely important."
Tegtmeier said town board members had a "tremendous" opportunity to make a difference and give children the benefits of strong dental health by continuing to add fluoride in the water supply.
The only person who spoke out against adding fluoride to the water was a Croton-on-Hudson resident who felt it was wrong for government to "force" it onto everyone. He also said it was difficult to regulate how much fluoride a person intakes when it is added to the water supply.
"Believe me, kids don't drink tap water," Michael Mamone Jr. said. "Isn't it better for the pediatrician to prescribe the correct amount and have the child given the correct amount, rather than putting it in the drinking water. There is no way a child can get the proper amount by having it in the tap water. No way. They don't drink tap water anyway."
Voting in favor of the repairs were Grace and councilmen Vishnu Patel and Terrence Murphy. Councilmen Dave Paganelli voted against the repairs, while councilman Nick Bianco was not at the meeting.