After speaking with and surveying residents of and nearby streets and examining the Demarest Kill Stream, Clarkstown Department of Environmental Control Deputy Director Dennis Letson recommended the town proceed with a flood mitigation project originally proposed in the 1990s. Although the expansive project for the Demarest Kill had been pulled back after difficulties getting approval from the US Army Corps of Engineers, Letson thinks it is necessary. He added many of the residents spoken to recently support it.
At Tuesday’s Town Board Workshop, Letson shared a map of the area dotted with flooded homes marked in red and flooded yards identified by yellow. In September, town officials met with residents and later talked with approximately 135 homeowners in the Cranford Drive and Cypress Street area, which flooded after Hurricane Irene.
A survey sent to about the same number of people yielded 52 responses. 29 homeowners reported 72 separate incidents of flooding in recent years and 45 property owners recorded 387 different incidents of yard flooding.
Letson detailed the research done on the flow of the Demarest Kill Street at one point downstream from the area and one upstream.
“The capacity of the culvert is not the impediment to the flow of the stream as we had originally reported, we were just verifying it additionally,” he said. “The issue is the actual capacity of the stream channel itself.”
The proposal he presented to the town board would use about a half acre of town-owned property at the end of Cypress Street and an undeveloped part of the East Phillips Hill Road right of way to create a storage retention basin. It would result in a 60,000 cubic foot storage area to alleviate some of the flooding. Letson said he submitted a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency seeking Hazardous Mitigation grant money for the proposed project.
When residents had the opportunity to hear first hand the details of the proposed project, Letson said they were less opposed to it. Their major concerns were the significant loss of trees and screening. He suggested the town should include planting as part of the project.
When asked about the timeline, Letson estimated nothing would happen until next year.
“I would have to estimate we would not acquire permits for this project until late 2013,” he said.
He later amended his projection from late 2013 to 2013 adding that it will be an “uphill battle” with the Army Corps of Engineers and will need significant support from residents.