Grand Gorge water fix estimated at $1 million

By Pauline Liu
Putting an end to roadway flooding in Grand Gorge, caused by the accumulation of runoff, could cost more than $1 million.

That’s according to a newly released study presented by Lamont Engineers. The study was the focus of Monday night’s regularly scheduled Roxbury Town Board meeting, which  was attended by about 30 people.

Roxbury Town Supervisor Tom Hynes pointed out, since the meeting was about the hamlet, it was appropriately being held at the Civic Center on Route 30. “We hired Lamont Engineers to look into the storm water problem here,” explained Supervisor Hynes. 

The findings of the study, which began in 2004, were presented by Jodie Barker, a project engineer form Lamont Engineers located in Cobleskill.  She worked closely with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP,) which conducted a series of tests on the area’s sewers in order to identify the four most flood prone roads and intersections.  “DEP didn’t finish the study until December 2009,” explained Barker. “The study was funded by the Catskill Watershed Corp (CWC.) What the study primarily is supposed to address is large paved areas. Priority would be give to municipally owned areas.”

While curtailing roadway flooding would improve the quality of life for Roxbury residents, Barker explained the primary goal of the program is to protect the quality of New York City’s unfiltered drinking water in the reservoirs.

“ It’s part of the Planning Assessment Program for the whole storm sewer system for the hamlet to see where the deficiencies are,” she said.

“ To a secondary extent, it’s to improve drainage, but most importantly the water is supposed to improve water quality. That’s the water quality of the city’s drinking water not ours.”  

The four key flood prone roadways identified by the study and their estimated repair costs are: 1) Becker Avenue and Route 30 south, from the firehouse to the gas station. Repairs could cost $396,000; 2) Route 30 north directly in front of the Civic Center with estimated repair costs of $172,000; 3) School View Drive just east of BOCES  with estimated repair costs of $382,000; 4) The Creekside Cafe parking lot off Route 23 with an estimated repair cost of $82,000.

Barker explained that grants from the CWC would fund the projects and the town would carry them out, but right now there are no grants available. “You’ll need to regrade the road and replace the pipes that are there,” she said. “They are New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) pipes, so that’s not something we can address. We’re looking at creating some detention areas. They’ll be ponds where the water can accumulate.”  

The Creekside Cafe is the only business listed in the study. Barker explained that the cafe’s parking lot forms “a lot of puddles” when it rains. She is not clear if homeowners qualify for assistance under the program.  Nevertheless, residents had a number of flood woes to share. One of them was Carol Murray, who lives on Route 23. “At my house, we have had an issue since they re-topped Route 23,” she said. “The water is just coming down our driveway. We have four inches accumulated at the bottom of the driveway. DOT came and chipped out a gully in the driveway and now it’s hard getting out of the driveway without hitting the gully.”

Town board members looked concerned. “I thought there was going to be more money for homeowners and their problems,” said board member Gene Cronk. Board member Stephen Walker agreed. “It would be good if they were included,” he said. “Wish it didn’t wind up costing the homeowners.” The News contacted the CWC, since the local development corporation would be awarding the grants, but was told that the two people who coordinate the program were not available for comment.   

In the meantime, Barker said she is continuing to compile the list of flood-prone areas in the hamlet that may be eligible for grant assistance.  “The funding is not available right now, but we want to be in the position to get it, when it does happen,” Barker said.  She looked directly at the town board and addressed its members. “Once you give me the o.k. that you’ve got everything that you need, then I’ll submit it,” she said. If you know of flood prone roadways in Grand Gorge that are not on the list and wish to have them included to consideration, contact town officials or Lamont Engineers at 518 234-4028.