By Kathy Savolt -
As the Village waits for the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to complete their design phase and begin work, there are what is now being called “parallel tracks” to augment the USACE project. It has been widely accepted that the USACE work will not solve the flooding problems in the Village and when completed, will only reduce flood levels between an estimated 2.8 and 4.6 ft.
At the June 12th Board of Trustees meeting, Village Manager, Jerry Barberio, gave what he called a “Parallel Flood Mitigation Report” that included updates on ongoing work.
The following evening, the Industrial Area Business Coalition (IABC) hosted our State representatives, State Senator Shelley Mayer and Representative Steve Otis, and our County Legislator, Catherine Parker for an update on State and County flood initiatives.
First, Barberio’s report:
1. On May 12th, the Village submitted their plans to dredge the Mamaroneck River in the Transit Authority’s Right of Way for them to review and comment. The State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) requires this step before issuing the permit.
2. On May 7th, the Village submitted the final dredging permit applications to the NYSDEC, New York Department of State (NYSDOS) and the USACE. Barberio hopes for a ten day to two week turnaround with dredging beginning by the end of June. This is new information as Barberio has said in the past that the Village had permission to start dredging. Apparently, there is a distinction between dredging and the work the Village has reportedly been doing. See HERE for previous article. In anticipation of receiving the permits, the Village Engineer has been meeting regularly with the dredging consultant and contractor to coordinate mobilization strategies.
3. Village staff has been working since April 3rd to remove debris from both the Mamaroneck and Sheldrake Rivers. What had been previously called “dredging” involves removing fallen trees and debris build up at choke points. Barberio reported that the following areas have been cleaned along the Mamaroneck River: Warren Avenue Park, the I95 overpass, the dead end at Bradley Street and the area near EMS on the Barry Avenue Extension. On the Sheldrake River, areas cleaned include near the DPW salt shed, the Fenimore Avenue Bridge and the river bend near Plaza Avenue. Trustee Young asked for the amount of debris removed and Barberio responded that he did not have the number but said it was “truckloads and truckloads.”
4. On June 25th, work will begin on replacing the drainage culverts near Ralph and Gertrude Streets. The existing culverts were damaged by Hurricane Ida and cannot even handle 2” of rain. New culverts will be installed along with new sidewalks, curbs, and road surfacing. Work is scheduled to be completed by August 31st.
5. The Jefferson Avenue–Wood Street drainage realignment project will begin in September and continue through Spring 2024. A hydrology study is currently underway. This project will upgrade the existing storm pipes and eliminate the connection to the open channel behind homes on Harold and Wood Streets. The open channel will continue to receive storm water from neighboring houses.
6. The USACE will present plans for the new Ward Avenue Bridge on July 23rd. The new bridge will enlarge the opening from 35 feet to 85. The old bridge will be demolished by December 2023 and construction is expected to start in early Spring 2024.
7. Two large parcels of land are for sale in the Washingtonville neighborhood and Barberio is studying purchasing these properties for $2.6 million and turning them into parking areas (with pervious surfaces) for both residential and commercial vehicles. Board approval is needed. Barberio has calculated annual revenue from permits at $200K/year with the return on investment in 10.75 years. Annual maintenance does not appear to have been included in the analysis.
At the IABC meeting, resident and local businessperson Jim Lanza began with the reminder that the USACE project is a major step for the Village but will not solve the problems with flooding. He stressed that other measures beyond the scope of the USACE plan were needed and asked the State and County representatives how they were prepared to help with funding and with the Village working with other communities, especially those upstream.
Senator Shelley Mayer, Representative Steve Otis and County Legislator Catherine Parker responded strongly in the affirmative to both requests.
At the State level, Mayer and Otis have been instrumental in ensuring that the State’s portion of the USACE project is in the 2023-2024 budget. They were also helpful in working with the NYSDEC with regards to the permits for the parallel projects by the Village. Parker, working with County Executive George Latimer, also worked to ensure that the County portion of the USACE project was fully funded and in the County budget.
But there’s more. The 2022 NYS Environmental Bond Act includes $250 million for a Storm Water Grant program. The NYSDEC is finalizing the regulations for applications and grants are expected to be available soon. Mayer and Otis also said they and the entire NYS delegation are fighting hard for Federal funding from the Infrastructure and the Clean Water Acts.
There is also funding available at the County level. When asked about a comprehensive Village Storm Water Infrastructure Study, Parker reported that there is $5 million in the current budget for such studies. It is not clear if the Village is planning such a study.
The County also has a Stormwater Reconnaissance Plan with a list of projects for municipalities. If a municipality can secure funding for a project, the County will consider funding up to 50% of the local obligation.
There’s a caveat to future funding, however. Every one of these programs either requires or recommends intermunicipal cooperation and watershed projects. Again, it is not clear if the Village has broadened its analyses of what is needed. The Long Island Sound Watershed Intermunicipal Council (LISWIC), which was active in the early 2000s, is being revived but the Village of Mamaroneck has not yet rejoined.
Update starts at 23:42