To the Editor:
Mamaroneck, We Have a Partner.
Project Managers from the Army Corps of Engineers gave our flood-traumatized community a real-world briefing on what they can and can’t do as they prepare to launch the $88 Million federal flood mitigation effort.
A crowd of anxious and engaged residents filed into the Emelin Theater Wednesday evening to get the facts about the plan, first envisioned in 1977 and finally funded this year, to move waters from the Sheldrake and Mamaroneck Rivers out to the Long Island Sound during periodic flood events.
Some key takeaways:
*Construction Starts in 2024: Starting with the Ward Avenue Bridge over the Mamaroneck, which will be removed and rebuilt. That could take up to two years. Other elements of the plan involve channel deepening and a large, covered overflow culvert (tunnel) in the vicinity of Columbus Park.
*There are four project phases that will move progressively upstream over the course of what may be 8 years. The design of each phase will be adjusted as the impact of the previous phase is evaluated.
*The plan may be “tweaked” but not substantially changed. Certain aspects of the design are subject to the authority of the project’s Chief Engineer, but any basic alterations will put the project back on the shelf to begin the arduous federal funding process all over.
*Parallel flood mitigation efforts by the Village, Town, County or State can enhance the effectiveness of the ACE project. The Army Corps staff will be available to advise us during the lifetime of the build-out. The ACE project is expected to reduce flood levels 4.6 feet at the confluence of the two rivers and 2.3 feet further upstream; Local efforts such as clearing and dredging the rivers (currently being done by the Village) or upgrading the Mamaroneck Dam can move those mitigation numbers higher, and the flood waters, by extension, lower.
*No property will be taken by eminent domain but six properties in Harbor Heights are eligible to be raised and made more flood resilient. The Corp’s Flood Control Engineer has promised to help us with that evaluation.
Mayor Tom Murphy has called flooding “an existential threat” to Mamaroneck and cited the current $1.36 Million Village of Mamaroneck clearing and dredging project for this year as something we can do while the Army Corps gets to work. He asked, “Does anybody here NOT believe storm flooding is an emergency?” No one answered.
In addition to the river maintenance program, the Village of Mamaroneck is also examining the dilapidated dam at Westchester Joint Waterworks for possible use as a flood control project, as well as working with Westchester County and the Town of Mamaroneck for deepening of the old reservoir just upstream from the dam.
Anything we do in the meantime can help reduce the risk. When the ACE Project Manager was asked directly after the meeting if measures like the use of high-volume “Katrina-class” pumps to move flood waters has been ruled, out she said bluntly: “It’s ruled out for us, but not for you.”
Time to get to work.
Lou Young is a Deputy Mayor of Mamaroneck Village and a Contributor to theLoop