Residents in flood vulnerable areas of Pelham were cautiously optimistic after seeing plans for a multi-phase stormwater remediation project.
“For the first time, I feel like my prayers are going to be answered,” said Cherry Charlton. “I think it’s going to happen in my lifetime.”
The flooding she’s experienced at her 7th Ave home and the hope for relief has spanned a long time.
“I’ve lived there for 33 years,” Charlton said at the Pelham Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week. “I’ve been to so many meetings. I was one of the youngest ones when we started and now I’m one of the oldest [in the room].”
Dennis Rocks, consulting engineer for Leonard Jackson Associates, presented renderings for a long awaited, multi-phase project that, when completed, will connect Glenwood Lake to the Hutchinson River and significantly expand the drainage capacity of the underground piping system.
While the current system has the capacity of a “One Year Storm” with some pipes as small as 12 inches in diameter, the finished system would have a significantly larger capacity with pipes as large as 72 inches in diameter.
“The capacity of each phase is different,” said Rocks. “Most of this design is a fifty-year [storm] design capacity.”
Rocks said much of the work for the renderings presented at Tuesday's meeting were from a 2009 stormwater management study commissioned by the village.
Village Administrator Robert Yamuder explained that the project Rocks presented would be constructed out of sequence, as funding was secured.
“The three middle stages are proposed and not yet funded,” Yamuder explained. “The plan now is to start Phase 1 of the project, which runs along Third Street, and then take on Phase 7 at Glenwood Lake.”
Trustee Suzan Marciona was not impressed by the project or plans to construct it out of sequence. After questioning Rocks at length about different aspects of his design, she finally said she did not yet support the project
“I have very strong reservations,” Marciona said, “Grave concerns that by increasing [the flow of] water, that will impact that before we have a chance to widen that pipe.”
In response, Rocks conceded his plans did not anticipate the project being constructed out of sequence as Yamuder and Mayor Hotchkiss explained during the meeting, but he said his firm could provide analysis of how that approach would impact flooding until completion.
Rocks said, “This project was designed to be constructed from downstream to upstream. If [it’s] constructed in another order, we will have to re-evaluate… [we can] artificially constrict capacity until upstream segments are available.”
Once underway, Rocks said construction of the project could be complete in less than one month. At this point, Rocks said he will be working with utility companies to develop strategies to ensure uninterrupted service and safe conditions during construction.
“I have a good feeling about this,” said Charlton. “Please see what you can do for us...we have suffered too long.”