The Mayors Council on Rahway River Watershed Flood Control will host a presentation on a proposal to develop a South Mountain Dry Detention Basin in the South Mountain Reservation near Campbell's Pond. The meeting will be held June 27 at 7 p.m. at the Millburn Municipal Building. The watershed suffered in excess of $75 million in damages when Hurricane Irene tore through the region last August.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/DEP evaluation has indicated up to 3 feet of water elevation during peak storm conditions can be reduced in Millburn, Union and Springfield with 1.5 feet in Cranford.
"We understand the development of a dry detention basin will have environmental effects and there will be a need to sort out the impact and mitigation. But maybe there can be an effort to mitigate with open space acquisitions to finish more of greenway for example," former Cranford mayor Daniel Aschenbach said. "Also, such a project would end any further development of the park for non-passive recreation."
The purpose of this meeting is to provide a preliminary description of the project and to listen to concerns or suggestions.
Earlier this month, the mayors representing communities in the Rahway River Watershed met with area legislators at Union County College to seek support for the funding in the next state budget to begin developing the dry detention basin, which could alleviate flooding in Cranford, Rahway, Springfield, Union and Millburn. The detention project was evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who have done hydrology work to estimate the potential water elevation reductions.
Leo Coakley of Hatch, Mott, MacDonald said the detention project is a "positive response to flood mitigation." Coakley explained that the project would be the best and easiest option for the towns to pursue at this time. The funding, if approved, would pay for various aspects of the project include a further study to advance the proposal.
During the meeting at UCC, officials watched a brief video that depicted the graphic and disurbing images of flooded streets and homes, rescue efforts and that were removed in the wake of Hurricane Irene last August. The video was produced by the in cooperation with Cranford Patch, Union TV 34, Cranford TV 35 and Union County College production studios. The video, titled "Flood Control Now" was also provided to each of the area legislators not in attendance, for their viewing.