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Area Mayors Council Votes to Recommend Against Building Dam in Reservation

David Lackey

Monday, April 28, 2014 • 6:58am

KENILWORTH, NJ - The Mayors Council Rahway River Watershed Flood Control voted unanimously to recommended to the New Jersey State DEP and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that the modification of the Orange Reservoir and downstream channel improvements in Kenilworth and Cranford are the best solutions to flooding in the region at its meeting on April 24 meeting at the Galloping Hill Golf Club. The group is not recommending the option that required the building of an 880-foot dam in the reservation.

“There was much discussion focusing on getting the dam option off the table,” said Millburn Mayor Robert Tillotson. “I told the group that we don’t just need people here to say no to the dam.  We need people to help us find the best solutions to the problem.”

The USACE had earlier issued a report with 10 alternative plans for dealing with the periodic flooding (which may be found here). The Mayors Council, having analyzed the 10 options, determined that the benefit-to-cost ratio of the modification of the reservoir and channel improvements was significant enough to make it the preferred project.  

The project includes constructing two new outlets at the Orange Reservoir in South Mountain Reservation and new ways to deal with storm water. The project also includes channel improvements in Cranford to deepen the riverbed and restore banks.  

The Mayors Council was represented by the Mayor Robert Tillotson, (Millburn) , Mayor Victor Deluca (Maplewood), Mayor Clifton People (Union) , Mayor Richard Huber (Springfield),  Mayor Andis Kalnins (Cranford), Mayor Scott Klinder (Kenilworth) and Mayor Samson Steinman (Rahway).  South Orange Village President Alex Torpey was absent.

The group also resolved that the mayor of any community along the affected stretch of the Rahway River may join the council.

The decision in effect asks the USACE and NJDEP to narrowed the list of projects under consideration to two (options Nos. 4 and 7), including the lifting or acquisition of the most affected homes in the flood damaged areas (primarily in Cranford). The Mayor's recommendation asks the USACE to remove the controversial South Mountain Regional Detention Basin option.

The USACE will now hold public hearings on the alternatives and then formally select which options to further study in regard to environmental impact. It will then make a final recommendation to the U.S. Congress for funding.   

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