Hampshire Plan: Two Views on Flood Safety in Mamaroneck

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Hampshire Club is presently a country club with golf course and other amenities

Letters to the Editor from opposing sides: the developers of the The Residences at Hampshire in Mamaroneck, followed by the Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition on the issue of flood safety at the site:

To the Editor,

As a civil engineer with Kimley-Horn, one of the nation’s premier planning and design consultants, I’d like to apply my 28 years of experience to provide some clarity on the issue of flood safety as it pertains to The Residences at Hampshire in Mamaroneck, one of our recent design projects.

My colleagues and I have devoted considerable time and resources to evaluating floodplain management at the development site. The Residences is designed not only to keep its residents safe according to current flooding patterns, but also to address even the most drastic credible estimates of sea level rise in the future. Even if the current FEMA 100-year flood level were to rise an additional four feet above its current 12-foot elevation, the homes would remain out of harm’s way during the worst flooding.

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In addition – for the first time ever – there will be a safe exit route out of the neighborhood for residents on Cove Road and Eagles Knoll Road in the event of a flood. This route would provide safe passage for all homeowners (not just those living in The Residences) and emergency vehicles during storms.

The question raised repeatedly by the Village Planning Board is whether or not this new elevation would redirect flood waters or a surge from Long Island Sound onto adjacent properties. Both we and the Village Board’s experts have cited Flood Model data indicating that the development would not result in any such displacement.

The data and studies confirming the flood-soundness of The Residences has been thoroughly vetted by the Village Planning Board’s experts and made available to the public for months, if not years. They have accepted our modeling, as well as the conclusion that the proposed development would not exacerbate flooding in the neighborhood. Therefore, as we approach the end of the SEQRA review process, we are confident in the data and modeling presented in the draft FEIS. The place to find the facts about The Residences is within those studies, publicly available on the Village of Mamaroneck’s website, as the approval process continues.

Michael Junghans, PE
Kimley-Horn of New York, PC

To the Editor:

Once again, a spokesperson for the Hampshire development has skipped over relevant facts concerning its project’s potential flooding impacts. This is reflective of the developer’s continuing pattern of omitting critical pieces of information.

For one, the developer has proposed use of Cooper Avenue (adjacent to the property) as the only available ingress and egress for the housing development in the event of a storm surge, Cooper is a narrow, private road that – at best – can only accommodate one-way traffic (as noted several times in the developer’s submitted draft final environmental impact statement). In an emergency, this would be a nightmare given the narrow width of the road, as large emergency vehicles try to enter the area, while hundreds of cars attempt an exit at the exact same time – creating dangerous conditions for residents and first responders alike.

The Hampshire developer has also acknowledged that in a significant flood condition, Cooper would be under “only a foot of water,” which would be passable for emergency vehicles with high undercarriages, but ordinary passenger cars could not safely navigate this purported exit route; thereby, leading to the possibility of stalled cars blocking the one available emergency exit route for hundreds of residents and blocking emergency vehicles that need to enter the development.

Contrary to what Hampshire has stated publicly, floodwaters will not recede with the tide. Due to the “bathtub” structure of the golf course – which is not going to be altered – once water pours into the golf course, it stays there for days or weeks. This was well-documented in pictures previously submitted to the Village of Mamaroneck Planning Board showing the flooding at Hampshire during Superstorm Sandy and other storms (many of which were nowhere near the same intensity) long after the tide would have receded. In prior storms, much of the flood waters needed to be pumped out manually.

Finally, the analysis did not model the impact of the development on timing of flood water surge inundation during the less than 100-year storms, which are actually the storms that are most relevant (for example, Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Irene and the Nor’easters in 1992 and 1993.)

The debate over the future of Hampshire Country Club continues, and we expect that moving forward the public will receive all the information it deserves, and that the Village Planning Board will remain vigilant in its investigation and evaluation of this project. This discussion is far from over, and that is exactly what is warranted when making such an important decision that will impact residents’ lives for decades to come.

Celia Felsher
President
Mamaroneck Coastal Environment Coalition

5 thoughts on “Hampshire Plan: Two Views on Flood Safety in Mamaroneck

  1. Hampshire’s New Owners Have Experience Turning Around Distressed Properties
    Judy Silberstein, posted on June 17, 2010:

    “Asked about plans for housing development at Hampshire, Mr. Pfeffer [one of the owners] said a lot of people are speculating, but “at the current time” there are no such plans. “We are going to have a great club,” he said.

    This property, which the Town and the Village would have loved to buy, was bought by private speculators under false pretenses for a pittance. If the property would have been sold as land to be developed in 2010 it would have fetched WAY more than the paltry $12.1 million price for which it was purchased by Pfeffer and his partners. They are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

  2. To the Editor:

    Celia Felsher takes issue with the thorough professional assessment of the Residences at Hampshire site by my engineering firm, which is supported by the Village of Mamaroneck’s own experts. Having many years of experience assessing flood safety surrounding even more complex projects than this, I will address her objections point by point.

    First, it is simply not true that we have proposed use of Cooper Avenue as the only available ingress and egress in the event of a storm. There are three roads leading to the property, all of which would be open for vehicles to enter and leave the site as a major storm approaches. Furthermore, as has been the case with the current Orienta neighborhood during past events such as Hurricane Sandy, the Village would issue an evacuation order before any storm makes landfall; that is, prior to any flooding. As such, the residents would be able to evacuate the area prior to the flood event. By the time any flooding occurs, emergency access to the site would be available in the event that for an unforeseen reason someone cannot evacuate and requires aid. Indeed, that is why the Village has relied on advance evacuations in the past during major storms. Ms. Felsher’s imagined nightmare sequence of events where all roads leading out of the neighborhood are jammed with two-way traffic is just not realistic.

    Ms. Felsher also misstates how floodwaters behave. The “bathtub” structure of the golf course Ms. Felsher refers to applies only to water levels below 6 feet above sea level. Water above that elevation overtops Eagle Knolls Road. During a flood event — that is, between 6 and 12 feet above sea level — water moves freely from Long Island Sound via Delancey Cove, the Hommocks marsh and the Cove Road neighborhood in and out of the site. Water below 6 feet, as the flood recedes, will drain by gravity out through the tide gates as they do today. The proposed development will not change that.

    Finally, Ms. Felsher’s claim that we have not taken into account storms on the order of Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy and others is also not true. The draft FEIS data, vetted and accepted by the Village’s own engineers, demonstrates that if a 100-year rain event occurred, all rainwater could be contained in the lower portions of the site. If one considers a rational worst-case scenario, assuming that the flood gates are closed, not allowing discharge, a 100-year rain event would result in runoff accumulating only to 5 feet above sea level, far below the proposed road elevation of 14 feet and building elevation of 16 feet.

    As I said in my original letter, all of this information is readily available to the public on the Village of Mamaroneck’s website, where the people of the Village can see for themselves that everyone involved in the planning of The Residences at Hampshire has taken great care to see that people are prepared for a flood. Ms. Felsher, who appears to lack engineering credentials, does her neighbors and the Village a disservice by muddying the waters with accusations that my engineering firm and Village experts have “skipped over relevant facts.” We look forward to completing the SEQRA review process, confident in the knowledge that our data show that the homeowners in and around The Residences at Hampshire are able to live safely with their neighbors in a flood-sound area.

    Michael Junghans, PE
    Kimley-Horn of New York, PC

  3. perhaps Ms. Flesher should reveal her political donations to the Mayor to the public at large. She donates to the Mayor. The Mayor speaks out against this project. Coincidence??

    • Geraldo, all political donations are public records. You can check them the Board of Elections website. There are a lot of folks against this ridiculous, overblown plan.

    • Are you saying that money influences politics? How much, roughly, do you think Mr. Pfeffer and his gang, and Mr. Junghans, stand to make if this project goes through? Immediately and over the next 10 years? Yes, sir, money has a role in politics and in development promotion.

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