By Bill Lawyer
In recent months people involved with improving Rye’s resilience to serious storms have expressed concern that the Rye Rising projects that were initiated are “going nowhere.” Further, the City may lose funds that were awarded by New York State due to failure to meet deadlines spelled out in the contract, which expires in 2019.
But before looking at recent developments, some background information is needed to help understand what’s at stake.
It’s been ten years since two serious floods took place in 2007. Then along came Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Sandy in 2012. Following each of these disasters people looked to government to help — not only with cleanup, repair, and restoration, but also with designing structures and infrastructures that were more resilient — for the inevitable storms that would arrive in the years to come.
Committees were formed and inter-municipal studies, watershed-wide in scope, were begun. Rye was greatly impacted by the rainfall in the upper Blind Brook watershed, where the amount of impervious surfaces has greatly increased in recent years, due mainly to the construction of new homes, office buildings, and roadways.
But Rye wasn’t the only Westchester community to seek help with the serious damage from the rising tides and inundated streams and rivers.
After the 2007 storms, Westchester County developed a special fund for municipalities that had viable projects for diminishing the impact of storms.
Fortunately, Rye had been involved with the Long Island Sound Watershed Intermunicipal Council (LISWIC) for many years and was ready to move forward.
Rye was one of the first to be awarded funds, which were used to restore the sluicegate at the Bowman Avenue Dam on Blind Brook.
A committee of residents, many of whom lived in and adjacent to Indian Village, was established to assist the Rye City Council in identifying and prioritizing improvement projects.
Over the years, Rye has participated in several projects to stop damage caused by storm-water runoff. These include planting trees and shrubs and expanding wetlands to retain rainfall, and the installation of dry well equipment.
After Irene and Sandy, New York State developed a new program for resiliency improvements, New York Rising, and the City of Rye submitted a proposal.