PJ Village Gains Grant Funds for Coastal Resiliency Study

PJ Village Gains Grant Funds for Coastal Resiliency Study

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‘Red’ marks the estimated depth where the water table is less than 11 feet. Image from Campani and Schwarting

A state agency has granted Port Jeff over $80k in funds to help plan for future storms and floods.

The New York State Regional Economic Council awarded Port Jefferson village $82,500 Dec. 19 to create a Climate Resilience Plan. This comes in response to hurricanes over the past decade, including Irene and SuperStorm Sandy, as well as other storm surge events. The promised plan will integrate sea-level rise predictions to propose solutions to mitigate flooding and storm surges, along with the impacts of rising tides due to climate change.

Michael Schwarting presents the study’s findings to village officials back in August. Photo by Kyle Barr

Nicole Christian, Port Jefferson’s grant writer, said the village would have to put conducting the plan out to bid sometime early in the new year, and should cost a total of around $165,000. The $82,500 from New York State was the fully awarded amount requested.

With the funds, she said, Port Jefferson will be one of the few North Shore communities whose waterfront revitalization reports will be “on the leading edge” of current technologies and data from storms.

The funds go back to June this year, when the village presented its Waterfront Revitalization Plan to the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, describing its intention to perform immediately needed maintenance of the storm drainage system and provide emergency equipment to deploy in a rain event to protect properties in the village in catastrophic flooding.

At its July 15 meeting, the village voted unanimously to apply for grant funds from the state Division of Planning’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, Empire State Development and any other applicable state agencies.

In September of last year, Port Jefferson was bowled over with water, with nearly 4 inches of rain collected in a short span of time. Buildings like the Port Jefferson firehouse and the venerable Theatre Three were drowned in 3 to 4 feet of water, causing thousands of dollars in damages in the case of the theater. In July this year, the village was hit with yet another flooding event, and while this year’s was not nearly as severe as 2018, it still left many villagers wondering what could be in the future.

Christian said when submitting the grant, the village included images of that 2018 flood, giving an example of what could happen in the future if issues are not addressed.

The area outside Theatre Three was under 2 feet of water July 22. Photo from Brian Hoerger

Back in August, architects from the Port Jefferson-based firm Campani and Schwarting displayed a draft report about trouble spots for Port Jeff flooding. Michael Schwarting, one of the architects, pointed out Port Jeff has a lack of permeable surfaces, a significant amount of hardscape, and a water table that lies as close as 11 feet to the surface.

The Long Island Explorium is planning to create rain gardens at several points in the village, which may have the added benefit of creating permeable land for water to seep into during heavy rains. The gardens originally had a deadline of the end of this year, but the explorium’s Executive Director Angeline Judex said their grant was given an extension to June 1, 2020.

In a release, the village thanked Cara Longworth, chair and director of the LI Regional Economic Development Council and Denise Zani, deputy of the LIREDC, along with other state, county and town officials for continued support.

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