Government

Millburn Mayor Ted Bourke, Township Committeeman Robert Tillotson and Mayors Council Endorse Initial Rahway River Flood Mitigation Plan

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Millburn Township Committeeman and former mayor Robert Tillotson, second from left. Credits: Mayors Council
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CRANFORD, NJ - The Mayors' Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control voted at its recent meeting to endorse the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers strategy for initial flood mitigation in the upper Rahway River Basin.  

Known as Alternative 4a, the plan is a revision of one of the 10 alternatives that the US Army Corps and the NJ Department of Environmental Protection have been evaluating since the major damages from Hurricane Irene in 2011 caused over $100 million of property damages.  

Alternative 4a includes modification to the Orange Reservoir and downstream channel improvements through Cranford and lift or acquisition of numerous properties in the City of Rahway.  The plan had the strongest benefit cost ratio required to be attained as part of the federal process meaning the project benefits (less flood damages) exceed project costs.  The next steps include the July 14 presentation of the plan to the US Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters in Washington, DC and then USACES finalization of environmental review and a final report by the Chief of Engineers.  
 
 
Missing from Alternative 4a were improvements to Lenape Park given the cost and environmental mitigation required. Lenape Park was constructed as a flood retention basin in the 1970s and it has lost some of its value due to factors such as upstream over development.  While improvements will not be included as part of the federal Alternative 4a, Cranford and Union County will continue to consider ways to incorporate improvements into a local plan.  
 
The Mayors also received news that the needed funding to finalize the study has been secured and included in the Senate and House appropriation bills amounting to $379,000 which is matched by the State of New Jersey.  Also important, the Mayors were informed by Winning Strategies, a federal lobby firm working with the Mayors Council, that Congressman Leonard Lance, working with his colleagues was able to get the upper Rahway River project inserted in legislation Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which would authorize engineering and pre-construction funding for the project.  

 
At the Mayor’s meeting,  Zach Mccue spoke positively on behalf of Senator Cory Booker, and Ryan Farrell, an assistant for Congressman Lance, offered encouraging words about the project and stated that this is a priority for the congressman.  
 
Union County Freeholder Chairman Bruce Bergen, who has continued to be a strong supporter of flood control plan, spoke at meeting about the formation of a commission to administer the USACE flood mitigation plan. 
 
The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control includes: Union Mayor Manual  Figueiredo; Former Millburn Mayor Robert Tillotson; Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins; Millburn Mayor Ted Bourke; Rahway Mayor Sam Steinman; Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez; Maplewood Mayor Victor De Luca; and Kenilworth Mayor Anthony DeLuca.  
 
More than $100 million of damages was faced by residents along the Rahway River during Hurricane Irene and no improvement in the situation has yet been done. The Federal and State Rahway River Flood Mitigation Plan has significant flood mitigation benefits including  material water elevation reductions from Millburn to Rahway.

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