Dan Hust | Democrat
Town of Rockland residents peruse the flood and data maps provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday at a flood mitigation study presentation in Livingston Manor.
Flood fix focusd on Little Beaverkill
Story by Dan Hust
LIVINGSTON MANOR May 14, 2013 Livingston Manor may see significant work on the Little Beaverkill to lessen flooding that has plagued the hamlet and even led to loss of life.
On Thursday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Town of Rockland presented the findings of a three-year study to research ways of saving both the downtown area and the surrounding environment.
What resulted seemed to sometimes please, sometimes underwhelm the standing-room-only audience inside the Livingston Manor Firehouse.
In the past decade, Manor has been hit with repeated 100-year or greater floods, but what’s being proposed by the Corps is designed to alleviate 10-year floods (though it would help reduce larger floods).
And despite the estimated $4.75 million cost, the project would focus only on the Little Beaverkill, not the Willowemoc or the Cattail Brook, which intersect in Manor and (especially with Cattail) have contributed to the damaging floods.
The report mentions that state funding constraints prevented the Corps from expanding its research, though it did take a deeper look at Cattail after another destructive flood this past September, suggesting the Finch Street bridge be lengthened to 40 feet, an old O&W Railway bridge be demolished, and a vegetative buffer be planted on either side of the stream.
The Corps looked at a wide range of solutions for the Little Beaverkill, ultimately settling on a combination of ideas that officials feel have local support and will protect the environmentally and economically valuable trout fishery.
In fact, one of the plans was conceived by Manor resident and longtime surveyor George Fulton, who suggested a berm system near the former airport on Old Route 17, just southeast of the hamlet. The earthen berms and a reconfiguration of the stream itself would “throttle” the flow of water.
Coupled with a widening of the Little Beaverkill just downstream of the Main Street bridge, the proposal would reduce the depth of 10-year floods by up to one-and-a-half feet and decrease annual flood damages by around $220,000.
A preliminary cost-benefit analysis indicates taxpayers would save $1.23 for every $1 the federal government spends on the project, but more study is needed first, especially on soils in the area.
Private property would also need to be acquired, but likely not through eminent domain, said officials.
Currently, the feds only have $400,000 earmarked to continue in-depth studies, should locals, the town, the county and the state wish to proceed. Construction funds of which the state would have to chip in would have to be found.
A Q&A after the presentation brought out a panoply of praise and concerns, from residents who hoped the plan went through to those who hoped it doesn’t affect groundwater or who felt other options should be considered from lengthening the Main St. bridge to buying out flood-prone buildings and land.
The complete study and accompanying presentation are available via the Town of Rockland, including on its website at www.townofrocklandny.com (under “News and Events”).