In reaction to a presentation on the forthcoming Phoenicia-to-Boiceville rail bike excursions, the Olive town board has written to the Ulster County Planning Board to express concern about the use of Cold Brook Road as a temporary terminus for the tours. Residents along the road objected to possible noise and disruption from the bikes owned by tour company Rail Explorers, due to start operation in late summer. The letter focused on the issue of using the road or nearby private property to load riders on a bus for transport back to Phoenicia.
In previous outlines of Rail Explorers’ plans for tours on the county tracks, it was stated that the terminus would be the parking lot of the future Boiceville trailhead of the Ashokan Rail Trail. However, since construction of that trailhead will not be started until fall of 2017 and completed by fall of 2018, it turns out Rail Explorers is planning to use the narrow residential road as a temporary terminus, or possibly rent property along Route 28A.
The letter to Ulster County, drafted by the town board and signed by Supervisor Sylvia Rozzelle, states, “We believe that any plans you design for the terminus of this venture, outside of the location at the Ashokan Trail Head, need to be submitted to the zoning enforcement officer and may be subject to site plan approval by the Olive Planning Board.”
Blizzard postpones meeting
The town board met on Thursday, March 16, the first time in 20 years a town board meeting was postponed, due to blizzard conditions, said Rozzelle.
The board approved several measures for improving the town’s flood resilience:
• Appointees were established to direct outreach to and assessment of properties that were ravaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011 and may be eligible for a New York City-funded buyout program. A site assessment has already been completed for the Trail Motel in Boiceville, where two oil spills had occurred. After six years of red tape, purchase of the property by FEMA is at last forthcoming. The county will demolish all structures on the property, and title will be transferred to the Town of Olive, which has an interest in the land because it adjoins the Boiceville wastewater treatment plant.
• Olive’s Community Rising Project has been working with engineering firm Milone and MacBroom to study possible remediation of erosion in West Shokan where Hurricane Irene took out a portion of County Route 42 along the Bushkill Creek, cutting off 185 homes for almost two weeks. “When that road is compromised, or the bridge goes,” said Rozzelle, “there’s no outlet for food, emergency services, or fuel delivery. It’s a 60-mile drive to get there through Shandaken and Denning, so this issue is very strong for us.”
The estimate for addressing erosion along the creek came out at $2.6 million, so the town is considering how to cut back on parts of the plan. “We’re looking at the possibility of separating out what it would cost just to protect the road and the bridge,” said Rozzelle. The federal funding for Community Rising is administered by New York State.
• Another Community Rising proposal, brought up in 2014, was to move the town offices in West Shokan away from possible inundation, but new flood maps have placed the offices out of the flood zone. However, the town buildings are eligible for upgrades, including a peaked roof and gutter system, now in the process of design, and a 115-kilowatt back-up generator, for a total of about $300,000 that Community Rising is funding.
Meanwhile, when reached on March 20, Rozzelle was plowing through the 100-plus-page final draft from Woidt Engineering for Local Flood Analysis (LFA) of Boiceville and West Shokan. Adoption of the report will open up funding opportunities to make those communities more resilient in the face of flooding.