Little Falls’ Peckman River Project to Receive Federal Funding

By Tina Pappas

 

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) announced it would fully fund the Peckman River Basin Project. The project would mitigate flooding through a combination of a diversion culvert connecting the Peckman and Passaic Rivers; associated weirs; levees and flood walls; channel modifications; and nonstructural measures.

The funding, which was specifically requested by Rep. Mikie Sherrill, enables the ACOE to immediately begin moving forward.

Prompted by local officials, a feasibility study by the ACOE had been ongoing for many years to evaluate methods to mitigate flooding, sparked by Hurricane Floyd in 1999, which killed a Little Falls resident. Since then, other flood events have occurred such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012 that brought devastation to the area due to the Peckman and adjacent Passaic River basins that run through communities after heavy downpours. Flooding from the Peckman River has also caused multiple flash flooding events in Little Falls and Woodland Park most recently with Hurricane Ida last September, which caused major damage and tragic loss of life in the Passaic Valley area.

Sherrill toured hard hit areas in Little Falls and Woodland Park in the wake of Hurricane Ida, meeting with local officials and speaking to residents who were impacted. She petitioned the Biden Administration, vowing to fight to get full funding for the project. She also requested that the project be authorized for construction in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, which modifies water resources infrastructure funding and addresses ACOE projects for flood damage reduction and ecosystem restoration.

“Our communities and families across northern New Jersey have faced the dire, and sometimes deadly, impact of devastating flooding in this region for far too long. This full federal funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to address and mitigate the flooding in the Peckman River Basin could not come at a more critical time, ” said Sherrill, in a press release statement.

Little Falls Mayor James Damiano called the federal funding of the project “remarkable,” adding that it’s a long-term and permanent solution, which will provide so many residents of Little Falls the relief that they deserve. 

Damiano saw the devastating financial impact to the area firsthand when a powerful storm hit in August 2018, just a year after he had been sworn into office as mayor. Some local residents not only lost belongings but their entire homes. Dramatic video showed cars at a nearby car dealership falling into the Peckman River and piling up under the Route 46 bridge.  

“No longer will the residents in the Jackson Park section of town need to live in fear that their homes, their belongings, or their lives are in danger from the Peckman River,” he said. “Since I was elected five years ago, so many longtime residents of Little Falls told me this project would never happen after seeing almost 25 years worth of studies. Now, this project is a reality, and I can’t thank Congresswoman Sherrill and her staff enough for their tireless work with us to make this a reality.”

Damiano added that although receiving the funding is a huge success for many homes in the Township, he emphasized that there is still work to be done further upstream.

“We want to ensure that the entire municipality is protected from the Peckman River,” he explained.

Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark said the full funding of the project is “unprecedented,” and will save lives and property once completed. The Borough has dealt with flooding problems for decades.

“Too many times, our residents have been devastated by flash flooding from the Peckman River, not only taking a financial toll, but an emotional toll each and every time it happens,” Kazmark said. “This has been a priority since 1999 after Hurricane Floyd. A man lost his life due to flash flooding from the Peckman River and last year we lost another life – almost exactly 22 years later. We need to get this done before we see any more loss.”

Kazmark also thanked Sherrill for her efforts in securing funding.

“Our community owes Rep. Sherrill a great debt of gratitude for committing to helping our towns from the day she took office with this effort and not only getting Congressional authorization, but securing the funding to make it a reality,” he added.

Sherril also thanked Damiano and Kazmark for their work in flood mitigation efforts, calling it an “incredible and steadfast advocacy for their residents and their partnership in helping make this funding a reality.”

“This is a big win for NJ-11. I will continue to be a fierce advocate for flood mitigation projects and funding across the district,” she added.

 

Photo courtesy of the Township of Little Falls

 

Photo caption: Sections of the Peckman River that have devastated Little Falls and Woodland Park will no longer be a threat due to a federal project supported by local officials and Congresswoman Sherrill.

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.