Progress continued at the Mayor's Council on Rahway River Watershed Flood Control meeting Jan. 26 in Rahway, as members of the council agreed to a master plan for the bridges along the Rahway River.
The plan will focus on making sure that improvements to current bridges as well as future structures take into consideration impacts on flooding.
In light of a study done by the Department of Environmental Protection and Army Corps of Engineers, it was agreed that the Morris Avenue bridge, Milltown Road bridge, Route 22 bridge and Hazelwood Avenue bridge be included in upcoming improvement projects.
"The continued regional engagement of the mayors in this effort to identify and implement flood control efforts on a regional basis will yield dividends," said Rahway Mayor Rick Proctor, who hosted the meeting.
The DEP and Army Corps study of the various Rahway River flood control alternatives remains in progress and on track. The Mayors Council suggested numerous storage and control structure projects to the study team and the results of that review are expected in next few months.
According to former Mayor Dan Aschenbach, who attended the meeting along with Cranford Deputy mayor Andis Kalnins, key priorities for the council include: better utilization of the Orange Reservoir for flood storage as well as other South Mountain ponds; changes to chanels and control structures at Lenape Park; improvements to Nomehegan and Echo Lake park and improvements to county and state bridges.
The members of the Mayors Council made several decisions during the meeting Thursday, including the following.
- They will urge the Union County Freeholder Board to implement provisions of state legislation A-4267, which will permit county open space funds to be used for acquisition of flood prone properties. Both Cranford and Rahway have numerous properties that could be eligible.
- Union Mayor Florio urged that the East Branch of the Rahway River be looked at for storage areas and be incorporated into the US Army Corps study. The Mayor's Council supported this idea.
- Springfield Deputy Mayor Fernandez proposed and the council agreed to review state legislation that would make it easier for town engineers to implement river maintenance projects.
- A meeting of the municipal engineers from the Rahway River communities will be scheduled in next month to review a plan for better river maintenance with the county, the proposed state legislation and the Army Corps and DEP assessment of alternatives.
The meeting concluded with an agreement that each community provide more details on the damage that Irene caused so that state and federal legislators will better understand the need to implement or fund as many of the Mayors Council requests as possible.
The next meeting of the Mayors Council will take place in Cranford on Feb. 15 at the Cranford Community Center. Millburn Mayor Sandra Haimoff and Cranford Mayor David Robinson will host a meeting of Rahway River communities to discuss best practices for stormwater management and development of a model ordinance that goes beyond state requirements.