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Updated: Fields Closed After Flood; District's Cleanup Costs Not Yet Known

High waters from Saturday night into early Sunday morning could spell second act of the controversy dubbed 'Flood Gate'.

Heavy rains and subsequent flooding on Saturday proves to be an eerie that dropped a . Water was receding by early morning Sunday, leaving games canceled and muck, puckered turf, water, fish and debris at the newly-turfed high school sports fields and other village fields. The district does not yet know the cost of cleanup while a village official said work will be done in-house to clear its fields, without overtime costs.

The flood gauge maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers details the considerable flooding in Ridgewood's '100-year flood plain' from this weekend–the brook's flood level of 3 feet exceeded 4.8 feet within roughly three hours before receding early Sunday morning. For a sense of perspective, it's slightly greater than the level of flooding on March 11, where six-plus inches of rain and melted snow stormed the flood plain.

The turf fields were treated with chemicals due to concerns over sewage water flowing from the Waldwick-stationed wastewater treatment plant last go around (contamination levels were fine, however). Neighbors of the high school fields complained of the cost, $21,800 to taxpayers, and questioned the wisdom of laying down expensive turf in a flood plain.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Daniel Fishbein said on Monday that the fields are currently closed, users of the fields have been notified and signs will be posted. He did not know when the fields would be reopened but the district has already begun cleaning the fields of large debris, he reported.

When directly asked if he was concerned the turf could be eroding, as evidenced by large 'wrinkles' being present (see accompanying photos), Fishbein did not respond but stated he was told by a vilage official that "that these two storms are the 5[th] and 6th largest" to hit the village since the 1950s.

One neighbor, Tom Kossoff, and said that while the turfing brings benefits, the district should have been 'more forthcoming' with what he said will be continual costs to taxpayers due to flooding.

Other residents by contrast said the fact that the fields were up and running so quickly was evidence it was a solid investment. A representative of the manufacturer wrote to the district that Field Turf "can withstand these types of events."

The district has a maintenance budget to cover the cost of fields, but said three floods in a year would mean it would have to move money around to cover costs or appeal to the county to dip into its surplus.

The turf's manufacturer also said previously that the and remarked that softness of the field would return as fields dried and maintenance be done. Assistant Superintendent of Business Angelo DeSimone reported last month that he believed the turf would weigh it down and it would not be an ongoing issue.

Village Director of Parks & Recreation, Tim Cronin, said most of Veterans Field is playable with the exception of the small diamond. Maple Field is closed until the village can sweep the facility, he said. "It will be an in-house project" he said of potential costs, noting there will be no overtime as it will be worked on during work days this week.

Layers of silt coated considerable sections of the fields on Sunday, as other portions remained under water entirely.

Stadium Field had a considerable amount of water on the track and sections of the turf. Large wrinkles were seen on the turf. Stevens Field appeared swamp-like in some sections, with the nearby footbridge covered in debris and swallowed by water. Plantings were ravaged as well. Grass at Veterans Field, particularly on the small diamond by Warren Place, also took heavy flood waters from the brook. Maple Field too had flood damage and ducks could be seen swimming on the field.

The parking lots for Village Hall and the library, as well as the surrounding Graydon lots, took high water. Village officials were seen moving vehicles onto higher ground on Maple Avenue Saturday night, witnesses told Patch. Assistant Village Engineer Jovan Mehandzic said one non-Village owned vehicle in the Village Hall lot was damaged, as water rose to the level of the door handles.

Village Hall itself, he said, had water reach the door but he reported no damage inside. "Village crews will be busy cleaning streets, parking lots and fields," he said.

Various roads–like North Irving–were closed in the village Saturday night as several inches of rain pattered down throughout Saturday and into early Sunday morning. Bergen County Police said Sunday morning that flooding closed off Rt. 17 in both directions to one lane on Saturday night due to flooding around Linwood Avenue. The northbound side reportedly backed up several miles.

Ridgewood Fire Department Captain Steven Maffei said the department responded to 16 calls on Saturday night into Sunday morning, eight of which were water-related.

A tree also came down in the area around Hempstead Road, and some power lines were downed, he said. Maffei reported the department finished working at around 3:00 a.m. Sunday.

Make sure to see the gallery and videos taken by Lucy Rieger.

The Fly April 17, 2011 at 07:56 PM
Use this website to keep track of water levels in the HoHoKus Brook. Flood stage for the Brook is 3 feet. Once the water level exceeds 3 feet, you might expect trouble. Once it exceeds 4 feet, there is no question that there will be flooding. The website even offers an option for individuals to have warning alerts sent to their cell phones via text messages. http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/uv?site_no=01391000
AMAMOM April 17, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Are these recent pictures or the pictures from the March flooding? The picture with the fish looks familiar.
James Kleimann April 17, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Hi AMAMOM, These pictures and videos were all taken today, Sunday, April 17. There were also pictures of dead fish back in March.
James Kleimann April 17, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Very helpful advice, Fly. I also recommend anyone interested check it out, particularly residents within the 100-year flood plain.
Jim Morgan April 17, 2011 at 11:17 PM
The failure of the artificial turf field was identified in the DEP hearings in March 2010. The concerns about crumb rubber run-off and increased flooding were discussed and ignored by the BOE. The Village is now faced with perpetual clean-up costs and an unplayable field. The BOE must be held accountable for this failure.
OHW April 18, 2011 at 12:45 AM
Great pictures, James, with very creative viewing angles. You should also post shots of the new bleachers. All the piers supporting the seats have scour around them as deep as 18 inches. The edge of concrete deck under the seats are also undermined.
James Kleimann April 18, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Thanks. For clarity, Lucy Rieger took the excellent photos and videos, not I.
Michael April 18, 2011 at 02:32 PM
I had heard that Dr. Fishbein asked if the bleachers could have been expanded and was told 'no' because the NJ DEP would only allow new bleachers using the same foundations. It may have been wiser that the bleachers and foundations were completely excavated and replaced with appropriate-sized bleachers AND a better foundation system.
Anonymous Guy April 18, 2011 at 03:13 PM
Wait until the floods erode some light pole bases and the high winds have fun with those tall poles. Jus ta thought. Those wrinkles look pretty serious, once again unusable!
The Fly April 18, 2011 at 06:41 PM
"The district has a maintenance budget to cover the cost of fields, but said three floods in a year would mean it would have to move money around to cover costs or appeal to the county to dip into its surplus." "Surplus?" What surplus?
sean mccooe April 18, 2011 at 07:44 PM
field looks damaged to the non professional .. clean up required again? and Again? Remember the levies crested during Katrina ? seawalls in Japan last month ? We have no or crumbling walls where our river meets $600k worth of fields.- Acceptable ?
Joe April 18, 2011 at 09:22 PM
"The concerns about crumb rubber run-off and increased flooding...were ignored" because A) The DEP was not concerned about crumb rubber runoff and B) the "increased flooding" would have happened whether the field was turf or grass/mud. Do you really think the BOE should have predicted two flood events in the space of a 6 weeks, which previously have not been seen since the 1950s? The fact is, our kids are finally able to use these fields -- more in the past few weeks than in the past 10 years is my guess. If we have to pay for some clean-up every decade or so due to some out-of-the-ordinary flooding, our kids still come out ahead. You call it "failure" I call it a net win. Sure the clean-up is a hassle and the cost is unfortunate, but it would have cost the same to clean a grass field -- only difference is the field would have to be closed till graduation with no kids using it. I'd like to know what is going on with towns not removing trees and other debris from the brooks which are causing these backups (see the newly created "dam" by Brookside)...and what else might be going on upstream to cause the water to be running so high. It has been higher than normal since March...is water being discharged from a reservoir?
Lucy Rieger April 19, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Hi AMAMOM- I took the pictures Sunday morning. I did not see the fish at first- one of the soccer coaches who was walking the field pointed them out to me. As I was taking the shots I realized they were still breathing.. I picked up the two wiggly, slimy fish (Yuck, for real!) and deposited them into the HoHoKus. I hope they made it. Lucy
Michael April 22, 2011 at 02:18 AM
I saw the cleanup pictures here at The Patch. any word on cleaning costs?
James Kleimann April 22, 2011 at 02:59 AM
I will update as soon as I know. Thanks for your comment, Michael.
Lucy Rieger April 22, 2011 at 11:53 PM
The bleacher installers were on the field today. They filled in all the massive holes around the pilings. They said they were flooded 3 times during installation, so it was no surprise. I asked if the bleachers have any extra seating capacity, and the answer is no. The DEP insisted they stay in the same footprint. They are getting ready to put the same type stands on the opposite side of the field. Those will be taller than what is presently there.
The Fly April 23, 2011 at 01:00 AM
"The bleacher installers were on the field today. They filled in all the massive holes around the pilings. They said they were flooded 3 times during installation, so it was no surprise. I asked if the bleachers have any extra seating capacity, and the answer is no. The DEP insisted they stay in the same footprint. They are getting ready to put the same type stands on the opposite side of the field. Those will be taller than what is presently there." So let me get this straight; the BOE in its infinite wisdom has decided to install HIGH metal bleachers that will block the vista between the RHS building and the athletic field? Graduation day will never be the same. What a disgrace! This news was the nail in Ms. Brogan and Ms. Goodman's coffin. I'm bullet voting for Christina Krauss. I've had just about enough of the BOE's focus on lights, fields, and bleachers. BULLET VOTE CHRISTINA KRAUSS!
Joe April 23, 2011 at 03:12 AM
I would check your information Fly...did you confirm that with Dr. Fishbein or anyone with authority at the district office?
The Fly April 23, 2011 at 04:16 AM
I was responding to the post by Lucy Rieger made at 7:53 PM today in which she reported on information obtained directly from the company constructing the bleachers. With respect to Dr. Fishbein and/or the District Office, lately that organization seems to be "unavailable for comment," or "did not respond by press time." In short, a big waste of anyone's time trying to get him to say anything substanative.

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