Council Makes a Timely Decision on NY Rising Projects
By Robin Jovanovich
At its October 3 meeting, the City Council needed to vote on which NY Rising projects it planned to move forward on. They were up against the expiration deadline for the grant awarded in 2014 through the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery. If they failed to act, they’d lose it.
Of the $3 million grant to assist in flood mitigation, $900,000 has already gone to studies and soft costs, reported Mayor Josh Cohn.
The Council discussed the cost and importance of a number of DASNY (Dormitory Authority of the State of New York) approved projects. The Mayor noted that there are constraints on the grant, and that projects can’t be co-mingled.
Before reviewing the projects, Councilmember Emily Hurd explained, “We can’t do all the projects we want, and we must show a positive cost benefit for each.”
The project list included:
- Installation of two stream gauges for a Blind Brook monitoring system monitor ($300,000);
- Vegetation removal for the Upper Bowman Pond Expansion — requires the creation of an access road to remove five-and-a half acres of debris — ($320,034);
- Milton Road drainage improvements at Milton Harbor House ($488,164) and at the Hewlett Avenue check valve to prevent tide water from going back in ($64,802);
- Rye Nature Center Access Driveway to skirt Blind Brook ($850,000);
- Bowman Avenue Engineering Assessment ($50,000), and Action Plan ($27,000).
Among the projects that didn’t make the final cut are the floodproofing of the Rye Free Reading Room and the Locust Avenue Firehouse.
Before the Council voted, they heard from residents who’d been impacted by the storm the week before. Longtime Indian Village resident Peter Sinnott asked the Council to find out the integrity of Bowman Dam by raising the wall three or four feet. “I’ve advocated this for years,” said Sinnott. “The only thing the City has modified since the 1940s is the installation of a sluice gate in 2013 — which has not yet been tested.” Sinnott added, “In small storms the sluice gate may be helpful, but not in big storms like the one we had last week in which the water came over the dam, Indian Village was underwater and there were 15 pieces of apparatus at Highland Hall.” He recommended the City hire an expert.
Eric Moy, whose family has owned and operated Fong’s Laundry in downtown Rye for decades, said that it was his first time at the City Hall podium in 11 years. “Last week’s storm resulted in water in the basements of Ruby’s, Rye Country Store. We’re looking to find time and inches. It pains me to watch my father trying to save his shop in every storm. We have to do something now. Tomorrow.”
When the Council voted 5-0 (two members were absent) to approve $2.1 million in flood mitigation projects, everyone in the audience at City Hall applauded.