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Residents Talk Back on Flooding

Rye City Council will have Irene talk before regular meeting tonight; Rye Brook took up issue last night.

Since Hurricane Irene, Rye residents have had questions about what went on during and after the storm. They can raise those concerns at City Hall tonight at 7 p.m. during a "Storm Response and Recovery Update on Hurricane Irene" before the regular council meeting. 

Peter Sinnott got a chance to give his opinion a night early. The Indian Village resident attended last night's village board meeting in Rye Brook. Despite the frustration of some of his neighbors, Sinnott said his 40 years in the neighborhood, witnessing and documenting flooding over that time, have him convinced local officials are doing a good job.

He is convinced the measures previously undertaken are making a difference, specifically the Bowman Avenue dam. Sinnott said, "it works 95 percent of the time."

But Sinnott said the time had come for even more collaboration. "I think it's time after 70 years (when Bowman Avenue dam was built) as a community we come together and fix this thing."

The Rye Brook Village Board had an extended discussion Tuesday night with engineer Dolph Rotfeld of Tarrytown. Rotfeld has been contracted extensively to work on flooding projects in Rye Brook, the City of Rye and other municipalities throughout the Sound Shore. He and partner Anthony Oliveri gave the Village Board an overview of how their recently completed detention basin fared during the heavy rains of Hurricane Irene.

The engineer told the Village Board their 2010 detention basin project did work as designed. 

"If the basin wasn't there, we would have seen flooding four inches higher," said Rotfeld.

Rotfeld explained much of the flooding was due to the sheer volume of rain in such a short period of time during Hurricane Irene following even more precipitation during the month of August. The already-saturated earth just couldn't take much more. "It was like an accordion with the compression into a short period of time," he said.

The detention basin was designed for 25 year flood levels, which Rotfeld said was appropriate. Anything more would be cost prohibitive and unrealistic. "It would be like designing a 25 lane highway based on Thanksgiving Day traffic."

The engineer said the soil conservation service recommended a dam project near SUNY Purchase on Anderson Hill Road to address the problem more effectively that could be constructed in a year and a half, but said the protocols of the Army Corps of Engineers often slow such projects. "They have one gear in their car and that's slow."

But Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein explained their were other factors besides the timetables of the Army Corps of Engineers that thwarted more assertive action, even collaborations with private industry. 

"We don't have the resources to do that, to go out and spend $20 million," she said. "It's more complicated than that...we're also under a 2 percent tax cap...we don't have the resources, I wish we did, but we just don't."

Feinstein did say that regional solutions did offer the most promise moving ahead. Hopes were raised among the Rye Brook Village Board that Assemblyman George Latimer's re-introduced flood funding bill might open state coffers for large projects. But collaboration on Blind Brook flooding is still under way between Rye Brook and Rye City.

Last night the Village of Rye Brook voted unanimously to move forward on an Inter-Municipal Agreement that partners them with the City of Rye on a sluice gate project at the Bowman Avenue dam. Rye Brook will pay as much as $136,710 for costs associated with the project. The measure must now be approved by the Rye Brook Planning Board.

Village Administrator Chris Bradbury said that while the project is on property in the City of Rye, it will benefit Rye Brook residents and provide ongoing, real-time data

Karen September 14, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Something needs to be done soon. People can't be flooded out each time we get heavy rains. The cost becomes astronomical.

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