Saugerties reservoir and beach projects stalled

Winter storms, most recently last week’s two-day storm that dumped three inches of rain on the area, have eroded the village beach, which is in need of sand in order to open in July. (photo by Robert Ford)

Winter storms, most recently last week’s two-day storm that dumped three inches of rain on the area, have eroded the village beach, which is in need of sand in order to open in July. (photo by Robert Ford)

Village of Saugerties officials hope that $3 million from the state’s Community Rising storm mitigation program arrives before the spring construction and repair season begins. If it doesn’t, repairs to village facilities will probably have to wait until the fall.

Two years ago, governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration made money available to communities that suffered damage from hurricanes Irene and Sandy and tropical storm Lee.

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High on the village’s list for the money was an improved filtration system for the water treatment plant at the Blue Mountain Reservoir, improvements to the village beach on the Esopus Creek, flood mitigation work on the walkway to the lighthouse and its dock, and a joint project with Arm-of-the-Sea Theatre on a bulkhead that runs along the village property at Tina Chorvas Park and the theater’s adjacent property.

Mike Hopf, water department superintendent, said the fall date would work for him as far as improvement to his plant goes. “But it would be nice to know when we’re getting the money,” he said.

Hopf said the original proposal was to install a new filter system at the plant to deal with turbid (muddy) water during storms, such as the two that hit last week. The two rain events dropped about three inches on Saugerties, washing dirt into the reservoir and forcing plant workers to take it off-line for about 35 hours, Hopf said.

When the plant goes off line during such storms, water is used from a three-million-gallon storage tank. It might seem like no big deal if the plant is taken off-line by dipping into the storage tank.

“Not so fast,” Hopf cautioned. Three million gallons only goes so far, he explained. When the plant was taken off-line last week through regular usage, about a million gallons were drawn down. “And that’s just regular usage,” Hopf said. “If there had been a fire or a water-main break, that usage would have gone up.”

Should the plant have to be taken off line and the storage tank were emptied, users would have to boil water. So having a device installed at the plant that would keep running even in big-storm events is pretty important.

Earlier this week, Hopf said plans now call for installation of settling tubes rather than a filter system. Turbid water would flow into the tubes, and the mud would settle before the water flows into the plant for treatment. Engineering on the plan was recently completed, and now the village government will go out to bid for the work. The money for having the work done, however, is predicated on receiving a check for state funding.

A second project ready to go once the state comes though with the money is work on the village beach. The beach was hammered during Irene, Sandy, and Lee, with much of the sand on it swept down the Hudson River. George Terpening, head of village parks, buildings and grounds, has been heard to speculate that the sand “ probably ended up enlarging the Kingston Point beach.”

On Monday, Terpening said plans that only need funding to move forward. Included are expanding the beach, adding new landscaping, and perhaps deepening the creek at the beach so swimming lanes can be put in for a swim team.

Because of erosion exacerbated by last week’s heavy rains, right now the beach needs sand. The beach opens for the summer on July 1, and Terpening says this year will be no different. If no state funds come in by then, the beach will be regraded and “we’ll have to make due until the money does come.” Should the state send the village a check, there will be new sand on the beach for the July opening.

After meetings between the village and Arm-of-the-Sea, that project too is ready to go, at least  as ready to go as it can be when it still needs to go to bid, and when funding is still needed to pay for contracts to repair the bulkhead along the park and theatre property.

Work on the walkway to the lighthouse and on the foundation at the historic structure are also in the process of being engineered. Like the other projects, this one can’t move forward without the state money.

Hopf and Terpening say they’ve been told the money will come soon. That’s what they have been told for the last six months.