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Baldwin residents: We just want the flooding to stop

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After county and state officials unveiled a plan on Oct. 22 to reduce flooding near Silver Lake in Baldwin, residents and officials said they would like to see even more done to protect other nearby homes and improve the aesthetics of the area. “I have concerns that my basement will still flood,” said Ding Lee, who lives north of the lake. “They say [the project] would lessen the chance, but I’m still worried.”

Homes near Silver Lake are prone to flooding, and for years officials have tried to devise a plan to mitigate flooding near people's homes. The plan detailed at last week’s hearing was the result of prior meetings with residents and Baldwin officials. “The input we had at those meetings was extremely valuable,” Project Manager Bob Steele said.

The $1.7 million project would include raising the walkway around the lake, installing tidal gates and storm-water treatment devices, and creating fish passage to Caroline’s Pond. Some residents said they doubted that $1.7 million would be enough to cover the costs of all four components, a concern echoed by State Assemblyman Brian Curran, a Republican from Lynbrook, who is up for re-election.

“It seems like very expansive work for $1.7 million,” Curran said after the meeting. “I hope they’re right” about the cost.

Officials from the county and the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery said they were certain the costs would be covered, and that contingency costs were built into the estimate. Curran said he also shared Lee’s concern that homes north of Silver Lake, such as in Loft Estates, would still flood during future storms.

“After they complete the work at Silver Lake, right after that, let’s look at and fix the problem near Lofts Pond,” he said.

Pressed by residents, Steele said the scope of the project was limited to the homes surrounding Silver Lake, but said some of the project could benefit other homeowners.

“The gates have potential to protect you in a 10-year storm,” he said. A 10-year storm refers to a rainfall event of a particular size that, on average, occurs every decade.

On the first component of the project, Steele said that raising the walkway would prevent water from spilling out of the lake and into the surrounding area. “This will provide a different level of protection for many different storm events,” he said.

Workers would also remove invasive plants from the area, improve small overpasses throughout the walkway and repave the area with asphalt.

Steve Kirsch, who lives near Silver Lake, said he would like to see a surface other than asphalt used. “While we’re here, let’s just make sure it looks nice,” he said.

Steele said more money would have to be allocated toward the project, but added that he was willing to look into the idea and into securing more funding.

The gates would work to stop water rushing from canals into the lake, Steele said, thereby stopping the body of water from overfilling during heavy rains and high tides. The storm-water treatment device would not stop flooding, but would catch oils and other sediments before they reached the lake.

Improvements to nearby channels would also allow for safe passage of alewife fish to and from the lake and Caroline’s Pond. According to Columbia University, alewife fish help increase water clarity because they feed on plankton.

Officials have set aside:

$797,000 to elevate the walkway.

$711,000 to install the floodgates.

$174,000 to install the storm-water treatment device.

$97,000 to provide fish passage to Caroline’s Pond.