County Legislature approves funding for long-delayed flood remediation projects

BY MICHAEL RICONDA

New City – The Rockland County Legislature approved funding for several projects aimed at minimizing flood damage in Rockland at their August 6 meeting, but in spite of the wishes of legislators and activists, did not move forward on proposed remediation in Suffern and other areas impacted by flooding.

The resolutions addressed issues in the towns of Ramapo and Orangetown. The proposed Pascack Brook Culvert Project in Spring Valley was approved for $794,000 in engineering inspection funds and an $8.9 million contract with Metra Industries of Little Falls, New Jersey.

In addition, a capital project and $100,000 bond resolution were passed financing preparatory work for both flood mitigation of Muddy Creek near Route 304 Orangetown. A capital project and $50,000 in bonds were also approved for embankment restoration and stream improvements for Tappan’s Sparkill Creek.

Advertising for bids was also approved for an embankment stabilization project at Nauraushaun Brook on Sickletown Road.

Though the projects were all unanimously approved, some legislators expressed concerns that there was too little focus on other longstanding flooding issues such as flooding in the Squire’s Gate area of Suffern. Legislator Ed Day requested the addition of the Pascack Brook project to capital projects, which Legislator Alden Wolfe pointed out occurred in 2001.

Legislator Ilan Schoenberger agreed the project could be added to next year’s capital budget, but explained that though legislature was willing and able to fund flood control anywhere it is needed, it is up to the county executive to implement the programs.

“I firmly believe people should not have to live with constant flooding in their homes, diminishing the value of their property while we as responsible governmental officials don’t address the problem,” Schoenberger explained.

Representatives of Concerned Citizens of Suffern, a group formed to address flooding in the village, attended the meeting to urge the legislature to revisit the funding when the Mahwah River project, arguing inaction reflected a neglect of longstanding flooding issues.

“I realize that money is tight and there are other things on the agendas to take care of, but not to be included in this particular bill is upsetting,” Roy Tschudy of Concerned Citizens of Suffern stated.

Flood remediation on the Mahwah has seen some slow progress in 2013 with a Mahwah River cleanup and brainstorming sessions in March and May. However, efforts have been slow since early summer due to an inability to schedule meetings between the Town of Ramapo and the owners of the site where a siphoning project is planned.

Other projects have seen similar delays. The Pascack Brook Culvert Project is particularly notable in that an issue has existed with flooding in Spring Valley for over a decade, but prior efforts to fix the problem have progressed slowly. Flood study updates were unanimously approved as a capital project in 2001, but actual work was never implemented in a pattern of inaction on county projects which stretches back to the 1970s.

“Just to give you an idea, the Pascack, Nauraushaun, Cedar Pond Brook, Minisceongo and the Mahwah River were first added to the capital projects budget in 1972,” Schoenberger said. “Nothing went forward from there.”