By Holly Crocco
Residents who live along the Peach Lake Brook in Southeast are looking to the town for assistance remediating flooding that occurs along the culvert and outlet, but the town says it’s the homeowners who have to address the problem.
While flooding used to only be an occasional challenge, Southeast Town Supervisor Tony Hay explained that that is no longer the case.
“For quite some time, probably the past three years, these 100-year storms are now coming out like every other month, it seems,” he said at the March 30 Southeast Town Board meeting.
Peach Lake is split between Putnam and Westchester counties, but the current problem exists on the Putnam side. According to Hay, the approximately 3,300 feet from the outlet to the culvert, where the pitch is only 1 foot, is overgrown with vegetation.
He said there are about 10 houses in Starr Ridge Manor that are located along the brook that have a waterline that sometimes goes right up to their homes. In addition, the ball fields are constantly flooded and the canal overflows.
The Starr Ridge Manor Civic Association was previously granted $150,000 from Putnam County to help remediate the problem, following a number of studies that were conducted. Hay said once the coalition makes a recommendation to the town, it will hire a contractor, then send the bill to the county for reimbursement.
Other than that, “The Town of Southeast has absolutely nothing to do with any of it,” he said.
“We’ve done tons of studies from the outlet to the culvert by our town engineer,” explained Hay. While the culvert is somewhat responsible for the flooding, Hay said the outlet also needs to be cleared out – and he’s not sure the $150,000 from the county is going to “cure” it.
Hay said that since these are private residences being affected, the homeowners have to form some sort of special district or lake district to maintain the culvert and outlet going forward. However, some residents disagree, saying the town needs to step in.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” said Hay. “They’ve lucked out some; additional money was provided to get done what we’re getting done, but it’s a problem.”
Brad Schwartz of Starr Ridge Manor explained that the Peach Lake Environmental Coalition raised more than $17,000 last year to hire contractors to clean out more than 650 feet of the brook, but going forward, the cost to continue clearing out the brook and to maintain it is going to be much more.
“No one really knows how much it’s going to cost,” he said.
Schwartz said the coalition has formed a committee to address long-term maintenance of the brook, to determine what it will take to keep vegetation from regrowing, and where the money to do so can come from.
For now, the plan is to hire an environmental consultant “for reasonable cost” in May to survey the plants, silt, width, depth and other aspects of the brook. He anticipates receiving a proposal by June so the coalition can solicit bids.
“The basic problem is the water isn’t event getting to the culvert,” he said. “It’s just so clogged with weeds.”