Flood mitigation is high on the priority list for 2015 in the Town of Olive, along with upgrading town infrastructure, specifically buildings and parks. “We’ve worked well together this year,” supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle commented, referring to the town council. Among their accomplishments is an emergency management plan, which she expects will be adopted in February to lay out protocols for such crises as floods and snow emergencies.
Grants of almost $100,000 from the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program and $8500 from Hudson River Valley Greenway have already been obtained for creating a flood mitigation plan for the town. Rozzelle expects the planning process to take about a year and a half, with actual projects getting underway in 2016.
Local flood analysis has already begun, with engineers making hydrological studies of the Esopus and Bushkill Creeks. The town is expected to apply for funds from the state’s NY Rising program to fund stream modification and stream bank stabilization. During Hurricane Irene in 2011, Rozzelle recalled, “County Route 42 was five feet from the edge of the road near the town office. I remember putting all the computers up on cabinets in case the water came inside. Luckily the rain stopped. But the Bushkill Bridge has so much cobble underneath, you can’t even walk under it on one side. Our business district in Boiceville also needs to be protected.”
While the town’s needs have changed over the years, the problem of flooding is not new. When Rozzelle started serving Olive as town clerk in 1983, she read through all the minutes of town board meetings back to the first one in 1824, long before the Ashokan Reservoir was plunked into the middle of the township. “When I started out, there was time for twiddling thumbs — not any more,” said Rozzelle. “In the old days, the only thing that connected Shokan and West Shokan was a bridge over the Esopus. Every time the bridge washed out, people couldn’t get across and they had to rebuild it. I remember thinking about that.”
Goal of consolidation of town buildings
To address infrastructure issues, a buildings committee has been formed, composed of board members Jim Sofranko and Scott Kelder, town building inspector Dom Covello, and Jimmy Henderson of the highway department. Their task is to inventory town structures as preparation for deciding how to deal with the deteriorating buildings. “We put money in the budget to hire an engineering firm to give us a needs assessment,” said Rozzelle. “We have to look into consolidating the town offices.”
The main office, on Watson Hollow Road in West Shokan, was supplemented in 1988 by a building on Bostock Road in Shokan, where the court and police station are located. “We need to get out of the flood zone in West Shokan,” Rozzelle said. “We need to plan for the future. I know we need a new building, something more sustainable energy-wise and more affordable. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. We’re building up a reserve for the buildings, using any excess funds at the end of the annual audit meeting. This is a long-term plan that we’re setting the groundwork for developing.”
The town parks, built in the 1970s, are also in need of repair, including new roofs on pavilions and a new concrete slab in Shokan Park, where the tennis courts were upgraded in 2014. The swimming pool, also installed in the 1970s, needs resurfacing to serve residents, including the 350 children registered in the summer recreation program. The town is hiring a consultant to oversee the process.
Vol’s day plan
At the January 5 annual reorganization meeting, a change was made to the police commission that oversees the police department. Don Van Buren has joined fellow town board member Peter Freidel on the commission, along with former Woodstock police officer Rich Ostrander. The additional councilman will give the board greater administrative and fiscal control over the police department.
Another new initiative is a plan to honor town volunteers, inspired by the tradition established by Woodstock, which has held an annual Volunteers Day for the past few years. “We went over all our volunteers on committees, commissions, and boards, and we’ve got 61 people,” reported Rozzelle. “We’re going to put together some kind of event to recognize the volunteers. We have no firm plans yet, but we put a small amount of funding in the budget for that.”