KEENE - Repairs along waterways in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene was the main topic of discussion at the town board meeting last night.
Plans to replace a retaining wall, also known as a T-wall, on the east side of the Gulf Brook is in the works after the last one got washed away in the Aug. 28 flood. Carl Schoder, an engineer who specializes in riverbank restoration, has recommended that the new wall extend an additional 150 to 160 feet in order to prevent water from getting around and behind it, which is how the last one got destroyed.
Work on the east side of Gulf Brook is an immediate concern since the two houses there have been cut off from vehicle access as a result of the bank eroding away the road beyond the bridge.
"Currently, those two homes, they can walk up there, they can get across the bridge, but they can't drive," town Supervisor Bill Ferebee said. "Therefore, they can't get the oil truck there - one heats with oil, one heats with gas - so those delivery trucks can't get there because it's farther than the distance their hoses will reach from where they can get on the bridge up to their house.
"If they had a fire today or if they needed an ambulance here today, (emergency personnel) couldn't get to them. They would have to carry the people."
Ferebee said the T-wall will act as a barrier to help control the direction of the brook and will let the town redevelop the back side of the wall, including the road.
Work on the west side of the brook is also important since that's where all the brook's force will go, but town officials say they are having trouble getting the state Department of Environmental Conservation to permit work there.
"When we do the T-wall down here, it struck me as though this was the right time to address the west bank as well as the east bank because the west bank is the one that is going to cause a lot more problems for the houses," town Councilman Robert Biesemeyer said. "But the thing that is a little concerning is the fact that here we are trying to get cooperation from the DEC and get them to sort of work with us so we can do some banks, but nobody wanted to touch that west bank. Although they wouldn't touch it, the engineer Carl Schoder told us point blank, he said, there's no question that Gulf Brook is going to jump the bank there and cause flooding and damage to the house that have been rebuilt."
"I really feel confident that we can get it done, that the DEC will allow us, but it's just time" Ferebee said. "As Randy Douglas, our chairman of (the Essex County Board of) Supervisors, said, I don't have 10 months for a study; I don't have 10 years for a study. It's got to go now because we have spring floods and spring runoffs that we've got to deal with."
As of now, however, there is no plan in place for the west side of the Gulf Brook.
John's Brook Bridge
Work along the John's Brook Bridge is progressing. Wing walls for both ends of the east side of the bridge have already been poured and the framing for the south end of the west side of the bridge has been started, according to Ferebee. Once the wing walls have been completed, stones will be laid in so they will blend in more with the surroundings.
"We still want it to be attractive," Ferebee said. "We don't want to look at a concrete wall."
He said the purpose of the wing walls is to hopefully prevent future erosion of the road that leads to the bridge.
Servpro will start on Tuesday cleaning the Keene library, which was damaged by the flooding of Gulf Brook. The company will clean up deposits in the library's crawl space and apply an anti-microbial agent to treat the floors, walls and framing with a disinfectant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Any homeowner interested in a possible buyout of his or her flood-damaged property can pick up a brief form at the town hall. The form states, "This is the first step of the buy out process should it be made available. At this time it is not a guarantee it will be awarded."
The form needs to be filled out and returned to Ferebee by Thursday, Oct. 20. Anyone with questions can call Ferebee at 518-576-4444.
Contact Margaret Moran at 518-523-4401 or at email@example.com.