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, according to a recent release from the Mayors Council. Known as Alternative 4a, the plan is a revision of one of the 10 alternatives that the U.S. Army Corps and the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection have been evaluating since the major damages from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 caused more than $100 million of property damages to communities lining the river.
Alternative 4a includes modification to the Orange Reservoir and downstream channel improvements through Cranford, and lift or acquisition of numerous properties in Rahway. The plan had the strongest benefit-cost ratio.
The next steps include the July 14 presentation of the plan at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and then the Corps’ 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 dense upstream 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 were also informed that the funding needed 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. Additionally, the mayors were informed by Winning Strategies, a federal lobby firm working with the Mayors Council, that Rep. Leonard Lance and his colleagues were able to get the upper Rahway River project inserted in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, legislation that would authorize engineering and pre-construction funding for the project.
The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control includes Union Mayor Manuel Figueiredo, former Millburn Mayor Robert Tillotson, Cranford Mayor Andis Kalnins, Millburn Mayor Ted Bourke, Rahway Mayor Sam Steinman, Springfield Mayor Jerry Fernandez, Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca and Kenilworth Mayor Anthony DeLuca.