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Study backs concerns about flooding issues Village of North Collins

Sections of the Village of North Collins have been repeatedly flooded out, with the Harrison and Park areas especially hard hit for years.

A study to examine the problem and offer up remedies was shared with residents Sept. 25 by consulting firm CRA.

David Britton of CRA spent considerable time this past summer walking the area and studying aerial and topographic depictions. He confirmed what most residents already knew, that the current system just can’t handle the amount of water collecting in and draining into the village.

There are constraints, mainly financial, to the current project which received $100,000 in Federal Block Grant Funding and will also receive a $50,000 match from the village. Britton took this into consideration when devising strategies and came up with what he termed a two-phase process.

The first entails diverting and slowing the water flow coming down the hill and into the most affected area. Britton suggested that much of the water could be diverted, beginning in the area of High and School streets and sent to a reconfigured drainage ditch along Eagle Drive and continue on where it would empty into Franklin Gulf. Currently, a portion of Eagle Drive actually drains toward School Street, adding to the problem. The new ditch would increase in depth from a current 2 1/2 feet to a range of four and a half to eight feet as it made its way to the creek. Additionally, berms would be constructed at the site of several streamlets near the creek to avoid dumping the runoff into them and causing problems for other property owners.

Britton said it was the most cost effective method of diversion found since it would require new excavation for only about 500 feet. Another route along the railroad tracks was also investigated, but the run would be 2,600 feet and could negatively affect the railroad trestle that crosses Franklin Gulf. Additionally it would require trenching to 11 feet and require a 100 foot easement, all factors adding to the cost.

The phase could also utilize a device to restrict the water flow entering one 36-inch drain at the railroad tracks near High Street, allowing the water in the heaviest hit area to drain away before accepting any more.

The engineer also stated that the diversion project is the most complex organizationally as it will require landowners’ permission, DEC water quality permits and approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. However, since Winter time is considered the optimal for such projects, he felt the scheduling could actually be perfect for construction to begin soon.

The second phase deals with the current system as makes its way through the village and could actually become the first phase to be constructed. Britton noted that a large factor in the flooding are existence of “choke points” that narrow as water heads downstream. In this plan, the current drainage ditch along the high school and Harrison Avenue would be cleaned and possibly armored to prevent erosion and back filling by silt. The process could also help stop debris from collecting at a grate as water travels underground at Sherman Avenue and Main Street.

Two other choke points were identified at the Wentland Funeral Home parking lot and at the end of Gurney Avenue. At the Wentland parcel, water moves through a ditch before emptying into a drainpipe. Britton suggests simply adding a second pipe alongside the existing one to increase the underground flow. Likewise, at Gurney Avenue, a drain pipe that begins at 48 inches, reduces down to 36 inches before it is guided into another ditch and into Big Sister Creek. Here Britton suggests running a second pipe above the current to allow water to flow if the level rises.

Britton said this phase could actually start first as it is not complicated. It also fits into the small budget allotted as the Village DPW could perform some of the construction itself and would not be delayed during an approval process.

Harrison Avenue resident Scott Dexter, who has been a driving force to address the problem over the past year, seemed pleased that the project had reached this stage, however, he voiced concern about beginning the phase two projects ahead of the diversion effort. Dexter worried that the continued flow might damage the improvements made downstream. Britton replied that it is normal for drainage projects to start downstream and work up and that the lower portion improvements, while not a complete solution, could only help.

The plan will now go to the North Collins Village Board for approval.
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