Mount Pleasant Seeks Engineers to Study Ongoing Flooding and Pursue Grant Money

MOUNT PLEASANT, NY—In response to the recent flooding emergencies that continue to inundate sections of the Town of Mount Pleasant during significant storms, the Town Board is speaking to a local engineering firm to study the problem and propose mitigation actions that could include new public works construction.

Mount Pleasant Supervisor Carl Fulgenzi said in early October that the town is talking to the engineering firm, Kellard Sessions Consulting, which is based in Armonk, NY.  In early October, the Town Board reviewed steps with John Kellard and Joseph Cermele, P.E., of the firm to consider solutions that will alleviate the water inundation in mainly low-lying areas of the town.

Mr. Kellard noted that over the past 50 years the town has undertaken four major studies that have identified the problem. Among the solutions was the replacement of four culverts in the town that was considered the most effective step.

“You’ve had enough studies done, so all the information is there,” Mr. Kellard said at a public hearing.  “So it’s a matter of money.”

According to The Examiner newspaper which first reported the story, the initial study, completed by Charles Sells in 1972, estimated the four culvert replacements would cost about $300,000 at that time, Mr. Kellard said. There were subsequent studies completed on the town’s behalf in 1977, 1994 and 2006, with the latter study estimating the cost at $1.2 million, he explained.

The cost projections of the project in today’s dollars would scale to between $3 million and $4 million.

“Flood-prone areas of Mount Pleasant, which have included portions of Hawthorne, have been inundated with greater frequency recently. On July 18, Supervisor Fulgenzi declared a state of emergency after a deluge hit the town. Some of the same locations that were underwater then, experienced additional flooding during the Sept. 29 storm,” the newspaper reported.

The issue of money, specifically who pays for the solutions to prevent flooding, was raised. Mr. Cermele recommended the town retain a grant writer. He noted that there are funding sources available where municipalities can apply for money, namely through the Department of Environmental Conservation and the DEC’s Environmental Facilities Corp. that will require  grant applications written by someone with those skills, he explained.

Frustrated by the fact that previous studies had already identified a solution—but that former boards decided against moving forward with the plans when the cost was far lower—Mr. Fulgenzi stated that now the price is exponentially higher. “We’re going to have to make these improvements wherever it’s feasible,” Mr. Fulgenzi said. “I understand that working with the state and the MTA is going to be a challenge, but they’re all aware of this. It’s not anything new to them.”

Mr. Cermele added that, while the increasing frequency of heavy rains may not be playing a role in the flooding, the intensity of rain into a compressed amount of time could be a problem. While mitigation has generally used the 100-year storm event, the recent 24-hour rainfall totals in town have not reached that threshold; however, the rain that does fall has been in shorter time periods, overwhelming drainage, and areas susceptible to flooding, he said.

The engineers indicated they will meet with Town Engineer David Smyth and come up with a game plan and report it back to the Town Board. They will also recommend professional grant writers that officials could consider retaining to help them pursue money.

Mr. Fulgenzi said going after grants is one of the board’s top priorities.

“We’ve talked about it for too many years,” Mr. Fulgenzi said. “Now we have to move forward and do something.”

Reprinted in part, courtesy of The Examiner,

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