Rye is one of 17 communities in the state, one of two in Westchester, set to receive $3 million in federal funding for flood mitigation projects.
By Robin Jovanovich
Rye is one of 17 communities in the state, one of two in Westchester, set to receive $3 million in federal funding for flood mitigation projects. After months of meetings with state representatives and city staff and receiving input from the community at three well-attended public forums, the Rye NY Rising Committee prioritized its list of mitigation projects and submitted its final report to state officials this week. They expect to hear back from the state on which projects received the green light in January, and make another presentation to the Rye community at that time.
The Rye Committee voted unanimously, 11-0, to recommend that three projects receive funding: resizing the Upper Pond at SUNY Purchase; refining the operation of the Sluice Gate at Bowman Avenue Dam; and improving the Milton Road drainage to Milton Harbor.
As Committee Co-Chairs Bernie Althoff and Holly Kennedy explained in an interview in our offices on Wednesday, they assessed community support for 17 projects. “Our goal was to find projects that would qualify for federal funds and accomplish more retention upstream,” said Althoff. “And we made sure that we submitted high-quality studies so that the projects were shovel-ready,” added Kennedy.
Among the “featured” projects, those that received medium community support and will need other funding sources, were: retention basins at Westchester County Airport, a new entrance to Rye Nature Center, and flood-proofing the Locust Avenue Firehouse. Projects that would add greater resiliency but received low support included: enrichment and expansion of the wetlands and open space along Blind and Beaver Swamp brooks, a renewable energy program for the City of Rye, and a stormwater runoff retention study.
Kennedy and Althoff are already working on a grant application for a Rising to the Top award, which are not tied to any specific project, that if received would likely be used for collateral project funding. “Flood mitigation can also be achieved by communities working together,” said Kennedy.
It should also be noted that a well-chosen citizen’s committee, such as this one, that work well with experts and officials and City staff, can cut through bureaucracy in record time and set a model for future committees.