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Flood Mitigation Plan, by Howard Berner

Read about my flood mitigation plan.

New Milford dodged a bullet this year; we’ve had no floods.  Now that I’ve jinxed that, this is not the time to forget what happened to us last year.  Now is the time to implement our existing flood mitigation plan so that we do not suffer the continuing loss of our valuable possessions and value in our houses.  In 1961, John F. Kennedy put forth a bold plan to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade and it’s time for someone in New Milford to step forward and put together a bold plan to restore order to our town.          

The City of Garfield, which is along the Passaic River, suffers many of the same situations as New Milford; repeated flooding, repeated loss of personal belongings and upheaval in their daily lives.  Garfield devised a plan to utilize nine underground retention basins each holding 250,000 gallons (that’s 2.25 million gallons) to divert water away from the Passaic River during flooding situations and release it back at low tide.  They have successfully reduced flooding in their town and New Milford can do the same.  While likely not capable of preventing
flooding during hurricane-type storms, it could help during out more typical
nor’easter storms.  Fortunately, it was 12 years between our last two hurricanes that came through New Milford, so they do not come all too often. 

How do we make this happen?  The first step is for New Milford to buy the water company property.  One thing that Garfield and New Milford has
in common is our grants writer.  She did the grants writing for the FEMA grant that paid for the flood mitigation plan and the Green Acres grant that paid for the sports complex on top of it.  This is a grants writer that has brought over
$20 million into New Milford over the years and I have full confidence that she
could do it again.  While there is risk involved, sometimes the benefits of taking the gamble is worth passing up the sure thing.  I’m fighting for the future of New Milford and I hope you come along for the ride.

Howard Berner, CPA

Borough Council President

Borough of New Milford         


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Ulises October 01, 2012 at 03:09 PM
This is the best plan I've heard so for and it's sad to know we could have already had this in motion already if our Mayor was not in favor of developing, along with Colucci and Robalino. The property will be used to help our flooding problems, plus a park and a field for high school students, the real Field of Dreams. This will increase our property values and make New Milford a more desirable place than a traffic congested Mega ShopRite Strip Mall & Bank will ever do for this town. Berner, thank you for finding your voice and not siding with the Mayor's vision. We are so lucky to have Marlene Cassey in this town to help us find the grants we need to make this happen and save the town from taking a turn for the worst.
tony mac October 01, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Mr Berner With a potential flooding situation how water could this area store? Let's say a ten inch rain store came next week how high will the river get?
Rory G. October 01, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Hekemian has quite a bit of time and money invested in this application. Would they really just walk away without a fight (bidding war and/or legal) if the town tries to buy the property now? What legal power does the borough have to purchase the property and bypass the existing sales contract? Do we still have a right of first refusal or has it expired? Also, if the town decides to try to buy the land this far into the process, won't the builder have a good argument in its court appeal that the town (M&C and zoning) didn't act in good faith on the application?
Ulises October 01, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I believe at the last meeting Hekeminian"s attorney stated they have about 120 days to get their application approved, They would have been done already, if it wasn't for the questions asked by concerned citizens throughout New Milford, Oradell (Oradell is also asking with legal representation, they also taped the last hearing), BergenfIeld, Dumont, etc... Their traffic report has been discredited due to so many wrong findings they have to practically redo it all over again. Their real estate expert stated he would have had a different opinion if he was hired by someone else... When I asked their COAH expert if New Milford was currently violating any COAH requirement - he said, "no" (yet, the developers and M&C are using COAH to change the zoning to commercial)... Their engineer never answered if the trucks turning on the bridge on Main St. can handle the weight when existing the complex, (so many bogus findings by the developer's experts), etc... This is why the Mayor, and some Council members, want to rush to zoning - the clock is ticketing for the side they favor... and the mayor wants to see the ShopRite right by the school and along the river, those where her intentions from the beginning... what a legacy... I hope she changes her mind before it's too late.
Michelle October 01, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Yay Howard! I'm loving it!!! Inspiring, uplifting leadership. Can't, can't. Can, can. It's refreshing. As Stuart Stevens says: Howl the eternal YES!!!!!!!! Roy G., if the variances are denied, we don't rezone, and we relocate the COAH units, we may be able to create a window to purchase the property.
Pat October 01, 2012 at 10:10 PM
That's great but 1 cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons, so the tanks would hold about 300,781 cubic feet of water. an acre is 34,560 square feet. That is 8.7 acre's at 1 foot deep. As a very rough guess, i would say 1/8 or 1/4 inch of water across the typical flood areas. From what I read here no one wants a "field of dreams" in town so what will we put on top of the tanks then?
tony mac October 01, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Thank you. The idea that building anything there has been tarnished. From what I have been told the oradell reservoir holds about 3.5 billion gallons of water. When it rains about 2 billion gallons of water has fallen through their watershed. If 5 or 10 inches of rain falls multiply that by 2. where does the water go? How big of an area do you have to have to retain this water? The Madison ave property, if developed, will show little or no impact on future floods!
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Pat, you build the fields and a park on top of the tanks. Picture something like River Edge's Memrial park on Continental.
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Mr. Mac, it's beyond flooding. It's the traffic and the change in the town's character that most are trying to preserve. A storm like Irene will still cause flooding but the tanks will help with smaller floodinngs like April 2011's flooding. The traffic experts are redoing their plan because they wanted to add additional lanes for turning into the complex and onto Demarest, without a traffic light, and that part of River Road is not wide enough - so they are revamping their initial plan. Now they'll widen the street and more trees on River Roads will come down. This Mega ShopRite Strip Mall complex will create more demand on services as stated by the Chief, which will eventually raise your taxes, offset the new ratables and we're on our way to being more like Hudson rather than Bergen County. An open space plan like Berner suggested makes since, to me and many other folks in town.
Lori Barton October 02, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Hallelujah!! That's the kind of plan that will actually reduce flooding and maintain open space. I think most of NM does want a "field of dreams," they just don't want it located at the Middle School. This would be a win-win for NM. As far as being able to purchase the property, It's possible Hekemian will walk away after they are denied variances instead of throwing more money away. They have to realize how weak their case is. That's when we need to be ready with grant money to save the last large parcel of land left in NM. We can do this!!!
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 11:30 AM
Jimmy, Mr. Mac's question is legit. On April 15, 2007 we had 10 inches of rain. The flooding that year was worse than Hurricane Irene.
Howard Berner October 02, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Tony Mac, This will not solve a 10 inch rain storm and with in infrequency of getting that type of storm, I don't think any plan ever will. However, my plan will help with the nor'easters and simple 2-4 inch rain storms at high tide. The "Nuisance" storms. Certainly, doing this plan will help reduce flooding in those 10 inch storms but likely not eliminate it.
Rosemary Fuhrman October 02, 2012 at 01:54 PM
I am happy to hear that more and more of our elected officials are really listening to the concerns of the citizens of New Milford and offering reasonable alternatives for the use of the open space north of the high school. I am proud to associate with SOD and feel proud of the work we have done to raise awareness about the negative consequences of the plans being considered now by the zoning board of adjustment. We need to continue to bring pressure to bear on Mayor Subrizi to honor her role as a representative of the people of New Milford, not the developers who have no stake in the long-term quality of life in our town. They will take the money and run and leave us with a mess of overcrowded streets that cannot handle the traffic volume, potential for damaging floods from major rain events, traumatized citizens (young and old ) who panic at weather reports , and overcrowded schools if the housing element is built as currently planned.
miriam pickett October 02, 2012 at 02:06 PM
The problem is of course that our mayor refuses to back down from her call to rezone the property. If this land is rezoned for mixed use, we will be helpless to stop this or a similar plan from being perpetrated on the residents of New Milford. I urge everyone who follows this story on the Patch to contact Councilmen Robalino and Colucci and ask them to stop trying to rezone until after the application is finished being heard in the BOA. I know this will take political courage to buck their mayor, but New Milford needs political courage to avoid making an irreversible mistake. As for the mayor, she will not budge. People are questioning her motives as well they should.
TommyIce October 02, 2012 at 02:54 PM
It should not be just an athletic center. There should also be accommodation for the taxpaying residents to use it as a park. The kind of park that has trees, benches, a water feature perhaps. A peaceful setting where folks could walk and meet and talk. Not just a "Friday Night Lights" type of deal that satisfies the BoE Athletic Department.
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Miriam, that is the problem. We can get the grants, posibbly raise funds from private donors too, yet our mayor is the obstacle. Why? She said on the record if the money was available she'd buy this property but it seems those are just talking points. Robalino and Colucci need to distance themselves from her because when the truth comes out, and it will, this is going to get ugly unless she changes her stance - I hope she does for the town's sake.
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 03:19 PM
TommyIce that's the vision we're hoping the Mayor would realize but her friends such as Larry InSerra, Peter Hekeminian, along with United Water representatives have created a road block it seems and the mayor for whatever reason, wink, wink, favors them over us....
Lori Barton October 02, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Thanks, Ulises. That's what I was going to say to TommyIce. This space should remain green and be that peaceful oasis for all of the community. A usable field (with a track) would be great but even more important is having that space for all ages to enjoy. I love the options being brought forth. Now, the question is: Will Robalino and Colucci support what the people want or will they continue to commit political suicide by sticking with the mayor?
Howard Berner October 02, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Tommy Ice, My thoughts are to use an area closest to the high school for athletic fields, Councilwoman Grant has suggested a dog run and I would like to see some of the property reforested.
Ulises October 02, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I wonder how much the town paid Boswell engineer for the Field of Dreams by the middle school? I'm assuming the town paid for it but it could have been paid for my the group, not sure??? On a different note, tis the season for door to door campaigning and please don't get fooled by their scare tactics, especially when they justify why siding with the developers is beneficial to New Milford.
miriam pickett October 02, 2012 at 07:48 PM
When your doorbell rings be prepared to stand your ground and tell the people who support this project that they can't win by trying to divide and conquer. We are smarter than they are and we want to know what is behind their refusal to not rezone. I find it very suspicious that they insist on handing this land over to a developer with no ties to this community and who cares only about his bottom line. Both Colucci and Robalino stated publicly that they oppose development of this property and yet there is this strange disconnect. We are owed an explanation. We are owed more than a hearsay phone call with no witnesses other than our mayor as an explanation.


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