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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Board Approves Early Flood Warning Apparatus

By Kathy Savolt -

At the August 14th Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting, the BOT approved the lease of security cameras to be used to monitor river levels in the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers. In a rare 3-2 vote, with Trustees Lucas and Yizar-Reid dissenting, the BOT authorized $124,416 to be allocated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the Village received in 2021.

Six 22 foot high mobile cell towers equipped with cameras, speakers (optional and only where appropriate), solar panels and back-up generators will be leased from Live View Technologies (LVT), a Utah based company whose main line of work is security.

Prior to the vote, several residents raised concerns about this technology and how it compared to the river gauges which the Village had been reviewing the since right after Hurricane Ida in September 2021. Reportedly, gauges were removed during the US Army Corps of Engineers studies after Superstorm Sandy and never replaced. [See Footnote below.] In fact, the BOT allocated funding as far back as April 2022 when they passed a resolution allocating $50K of ARPA funds.

There are sporadic references to installing river gauges in BOT minutes between September 2021 and September 2022 when a representative from US Geological Survey (USGS) remotely attended the September 27, 2022 BOT work session. During that meeting members of the BOT confirmed that the technology did not allow for real time reporting. The gauge program, administered by the USGS, collects data regarding flow and height but only updates it once an hour. After discussion, the BOT decided to look at other alternatives despite having passed resolutions funding the river gauge program the preceding year. The Mayor referenced communication from the Village’s Flood Mitigation Advisory Committee indicating some alternative gauges. Nothing came publicly before the BOT until the June 26, 2023 work session when Village Manager Barberio introduced the idea of using cameras. The LVT camera technology will allow for real-time updates and Village residents will be able to access that information.

Several residents, including Tim O’Connor, a resident of the Washingtonville neighborhood and victim of several flood events questioned the usefulness of technology that runs on solar power with a back-up generator. When he asked about what would happen to the camera’s usefulness once the flood waters got high enough to submerge the power sources, Barberio responded that it wouldn’t matter implying people would have evacuated by then.

The Village will lease the equipment from LVT who will maintain and insure it. Barberio reported that the Village could cancel the contract at any time with 30 days’ notice.

Trustee Lucas suggested that they should consider this a pilot project for the first year and, if it worked, upstream communities may be interested especially since grant funding from New York State and Westchester County will be available for watershed projects with multiple municipalities as participants. Nevertheless, when it came time to vote, both Lucas and Yizar-Reid said there were just too many open questions and voted no. Mayor Murphy announced, “we’re doing something,” and Trustee Young said that “people who don’t live where it floods, don’t care that it floods.” This prompted boos from the audience, including many who live in flood zones.

After the meeting, O’Connor expressed concern and wondered how residents would be able to determine the height of the water, especially at night. He questioned whether the equipment would be vulnerable to theft and called them “lightning rods” because that’s all they’d be good for during storms.

Footnote: The Mamaroneck Observer uncovered communications to the BOT regarding re-installation of the gauges dating back to 2016.


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