Shandaken town hall still tops the list

NY Rising Committee Rich Mullerleile confers with Shandaken co-chairs Joan Lawrence-Bauer and Doris Nieves.

NY Rising Committee Rich Mullerleile confers with Shandaken co-chairs Joan Lawrence-Bauer and Doris Nieves.

Despite the frustrations of working within a program still under development, members of Shandaken’s New York Rising Committee officially approved, on March 12, two lists of possible projects to submit to New York State for the $3 million designated for improving flood resilience. Still on the “A” list (recently renamed by the state the “Proposed List”) is the construction of a new municipal complex on land east of Phoenicia on Route 28, near the Phoenicia Diner.

The complex would include a town hall, highway garage, emergency operations center, regional evacuation site, and community health and human services center. Shandaken committee co-chair Joan Lawrence-Bauer said components of the project had been added to the Proposed List early on, but the idea of relocating the structures out of the floodplain emerged only two weeks ago.

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Officially named the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program, the initiative involves $25 million in funds for communities around the state that were damaged by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Shandaken and the northwestern Ulster County town of Hardenburgh have been combined into one committee, and the two towns will get to spend $3 million each.

The actual decisions on which projects to undertake will be made at the state level after the proposals have been thoroughly analyzed, beyond the research already conducted, including preliminary cost-benefit analysis and consideration of eligibility criteria. The timetable for approval is still unclear, said state employee Lori DeBord, Regional Lead for New York Rising.

Among the ten projects on the Proposed (“A”) List are repair and upgrades to town bridges and embankments, at such sites as Peck Hollow, Little Peck Hollow, Pantherkill Road, Lower Birch Creek Road, and Muller Road. Highway superintendent Eric Hofmeister said some of these sites are good candidates for use of box culverts, which would replace bridges at a much lower cost than rebuilding.

The “B” or Featured List includes ten projects that are less thoroughly developed, may cost too much for the grant, and/or might not meet eligibility criteria. Some of them could be promoted if items are rejected from the Proposed List.

Stream restoration in the area of Phoenicia’s Bridge Street bridge, originally on the Featured List, has been broken down into four phases, with Phase 2, realignment and replacement of the bridge, moved to the Proposed List. Still on the Featured List are Phase 1, land acquisition, relocation of Station Street residents, and park development; Phase 3, streambank restoration and gravel harvesting; and Phase 4, construction of an amphitheater for use by the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice and establishment of a connective recreational trail. Committee member Mark Loete cast the only “no” vote of the meeting on the Phase 4 project, asserting that it was insufficiently developed, with questions not addressed about whether the Festival would be responsible for the amphitheater.

Other Featured List projects include demolition of the disused Mount Tremper car bridge; construction of a foot bridge in its place; slope stabilization at Muddy Brook Road, Pantherkill, and Silver Hollow; Phoenicia water system upgrades; building department digital upgrades for electronic post-storm inspections.

Another proposal involves installing hookups for generators at lodging establishments, restaurants, and gas stations, to provide power in emergency situations. Supervisor Rob Stanley emphasized that generators are not included in the project but would be brought to the sites if needed.

Also on the Featured List is flood mitigation for homes and businesses, which would include elevation of buildings, at an estimated cost of $100,000 per structure. While this provision is unlikely to be approved, DuBord said its inclusion provides documentation that may help in obtaining future grants for the proposal, as for other Feature-Listed items. She said there is already an initiative underway for identifying buildings in the Catskill region that might benefit from elevation under a different granting process.

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