RICHMOND — Members of the Town Council learned at their Tuesday meeting of possible funding sources to offset the cost of mitigating the ongoing flooding in the KG Ranch Road- Valley Lodge neighborhood.
The flooding, which has been attributed to the topography of the area as well as runoff from Interstate 95, is a decades-old problem.
In 2016, the town and the Rhode Island Department of Transportation agreed that the state would reimburse the town up to $70,000 for the engineering of a flood-mitigation plan. There was also a discussion of building three retention ponds that would hold the water flowing down from the interstate, however, no work has been done.
Town Planner Shaun Lacey told the council that he had recently discussed the issue with Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Planning and Development Director Megan DiPrete.
“We’ve been able to revisit the concerns with DEM, so we were able to get in touch with Megan DiPrete over there, got her caught up to speed on where the flooding is generated from,” he said. “We just kind of reached out to say ‘hey listen, at some point down the road, whether through the planning and engineering process and ultimately, through the implementation process of trying to find solutions towards treating the water runoff that’s being experienced down at KG Ranch Road, we’re ultimately going to rely on DEM for their assistance in helping us with the improvements, since a lot of those improvements will be taking place on state-owned property.’”
Lacey also noted that the town would be filing a notice of intent with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency notifying the state that Richmond would be applying for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“A notice of intent would give the state a better understanding of how many communities out there are going to be interested in applying for FEMA grant money later on in the calendar year, so that’s something that we still plan on doing,” Lacey said. “That letter has to be submitted by the [Sept.] 25th, so we’re going to continue to work on that.”
In addition, Lacey and Town Administrator Karen Pinch met on Sept. 15 with Southern Rhode Island Conservation District Manager Gina Fuller and Christopher Fox, executive director of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, to learn about possibilities for funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.
“Based on the conversation that we had with Gina Fuller and Chris Fox over there today, they seem reasonably confident that the planning and engineering costs could be 100% reimbursable to the town, which, obviously, would be quite a shot in the arm to the town from a funding point of view,” Lacey told the council. “Further, they seem to think that the implementation of those types of planning and engineering design concepts could be 75% reimbursable as well.”
Lacey recommended that the town prioritize an NRCS funding application over FEMA, since the NRCS could potentially cover the entire planning and engineering costs.”
Town Council President Richard Nassaney agreed with Lacey.
“Let’s go forward with that,” he said. “That’s a great opportunity.”
Council member Nell Carpenter said she was encouraged to learn of the new funding sources.
“This is very promising, particularly what you’ve discovered and what you’ve researched in regards to funding, because that’s ultimately the greatest concern, of course, how it’s going to be paid for,” she said.