BY MICHAEL RICONDA
Suffern – The Squire’s Gate community in Suffern saw very good news this week as it both received additional flood remediation support from the state and received a postponement on an anticipated flood zoning change.
NY Rising will give Suffern $3 million in reconstruction aid out of funds designated for the Lower Hudson Valley. Use of the funds will be planned and supervised by a 15-member panel consisting of 13 community members and two state representatives.
To announce the project, a host of local and state officials including Mayor Patricia Abato, Deputy Mayor Jo Meegan-Corrigan, Senator David Carlucci, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Congresswoman Nita Lowey held a press conference at the Suffern Village Hall.
“For years we have talked about plans that could mitigate the chronic flooding that plagues Squire’s Gate,” Carlucci said. “Now we finally have a plan with money to back it up on how we can move forward with that.”
Local residents also turned out to speak at the event and praise the officials for acting on a matter which has been a financial and personal bane to Suffern homeowners for years.
According to Jaffee, the Village has pushed for flood remediation since the late ’90s when Hurricane Floyd ravaged the area. Jaffee explained her suggestions had been ignored for years before Hurricane Sandy demonstrated their necessity.
“If we had invested, we wouldn’t have lost four homes,” Jaffee explained.
Though the plan will allow for flood remediation, it might not immediately affect FEMA’s recent re-zoning of Squire’s Gate as an A-7 flood zone. According to Squire’s Gate resident John Kunzann, the re-zoning meant residents are likely to see a significant drop in the value of their homes and higher lood insurance premiums.
“It’s never good when they change it because that means you’re gonna pay more for flood insurance,” Kunzann said. “But some people don’t wanna move. They wanna stay and keep the neighborhood strong.”
However, some time has been bought for Squire’s Gate’s next move on addressing insurance premius. In response to public anger over the sudden changes, a U.S. Senate bill was passed on January 30 which will delay premium increases for four years and pass below-cost policies on to those who have recently purchased their homes.
Though no final plan is in place yet, specific flood remediation measures will likely involve a siphoning system which will manage water levels on the Mahwah River. Suffern-based engineering firm Brooker Engineering has bee tasked with designing the system and a tentative plan was laid out for local officials from both Suffern and Mahwah last Spring.