North Salem seeks community input on proposed hazard mitigation plan
Westchester County is asking the public to review and provide feedback on its newly updated hazard mitigation plan. The plan, which is open for feedback between now and December 17, aims to minimize losses from future natural disasters by identifying high risk areas and outlining implementable actions that can be taken before a disaster happens.
Participating jurisdictions within Westchester County, including the Town of North Salem, formed hazard mitigation planning teams and wrote their own plans as part of the larger county-wide effort. Town-level plans were created in order to facilitate local understanding of each community’s risk to natural hazards and capabilities to manage those risks.
North Salem’s hazard mitigation plan includes focus areas around Peach Lake and Croton Falls. “Not all will be addressed because they are in the plan but it gives us at least a list of things that we should be working towards addressing over time,” Town Supervisor Warren Lucas said. The Town’s Hazard Mitigation Planning Team includes Lucas, code enforcement officer James Duhigg, emergency management coordinator Kurt Guldan, and deputy town supervisor Peter Kamenstein.
Among the issues and actions identified in North Salem’s plan are a floodplain management plan for the Peach Lake area, a town-wide climate action plan, and the Croton Falls Master Plan. The floodplain management plan is currently in process with town officials and was developed as a result of recent storms, which had flooded portions of the lake. The climate action plan is also in process, as the town seeks to earn a Climate Smart Community certification from New York State. Participating municipalities receive free technical assistance, grants, and rebates for electric vehicles. For the Croton Falls Master Plan, town officials noted that they expect to spend $10 million to improve the drinking water quality and quantity and also to bring sewers into the business district.
Of the eight hazardous events outlined in the county hazard mitigation plan document, North Salem identified itself as high risk for two: severe storms and severe winter storms. Flooding was ranked as medium risk, with all other hazardous events determined to be low risk. The methodology for determining the rankings factored in probability of occurrence, impact on population, property and the economy, the town’s capacity to address the hazard, the town’s capability to protect residents from or withstand a hazard event, and climate change.
“Severe storms, predominantly rain events, are the Town’s biggest vulnerability,” hazard planning committee members wrote. “Winter storms however pose an additional problem as the Town has significant tree damage of power lines. Without power most homes will have no electricity and therefore no heat. Pipes will freeze.”
While not considered a high risk town-wide, flooding is covered extensively in North Salem’s section of the planning document, as the issue has plagued Peach Lake. The Pietsch Gardens Coop, located on the southeast corner of Peach Lake, was identified as being prone to flooding due to the water level increase in the lake after extended rain. Town officials say the issue is caused by the limited amount of water that can flow out Peach Lake Brook into the East Branch Reservoir. Flood mitigation has already been requested for Cottage Lane homes around Peach Lake. Officials noted that the problem areas--where debris collects and where the lake’s culvert sits--are within the Town of Southeast, not North Salem.
Other high priority mitigation initiatives that North Salem identified include:
- Backup power for the emergency services building at 66 June Road
- Titicus River streambed clearing
- Creating a larger detention basin upstream of Valeria Circle and Lake Candlewood
- Repairing/replacing the Sunset Ridge Hill drainage systems
- Peach Lake flooding
- June Road bridge expansion
- Integrating the Hazard Mitigation Plan into the Town Comprehensive Plan
- Identifying appropriate locations for temporary and permanent housing outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area
Lucas said, “If there are things missing that residents feel should be added, they should reach out to us and let us know.”
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