The Town of Shandaken is looking at several major infrastructure projects for 2019, and town supervisor Rob Stanley hopes to have a permitting process for short-term rentals (STRs) in place by the end of the year.
Town officials are meeting with the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) in February regarding the rebuilding of the Route 28 bridge in Mount Tremper. The project will go out to bid in fall, with construction to begin spring of 2020. Meanwhile, actions required include acquisition of properties along Route 28, some of which have already been conveyed to the town through buyouts funded by FEMA or New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Other transactions are in process. Plans call for removal of the berm just east of the bridge, since it did not succeed in protecting Mount Tremper properties from flooding during Hurricane Irene. “It seems like it’s going to take an act of God,” said Stanley. “The berm was created by the Army Corps of Engineers, under Congress, so it takes a Congressional action to remove it, by proving it’s not doing what it was intended to do.”
Route 212 will be elevated, and its junction with Route 28, just beyond the end of the bridge, will be realigned. DOT plans to construct a new bridge alongside the existing one, as it did with the Route 28 bridge in Big Indian, to allow full flow of traffic throughout most of the project. “Our concern was loss of traffic to the business district of the Emerson Inn, Phoenicia Plaza, and the Phoenicia Diner,” said Stanley. “They would all be bypassed if we did a detour up Plank Road, plus trucks would be going through Phoenicia. In Big Indian, there were only a few days of one-lane traffic.”
Grant denied for backup High Street water supply loop
The town has been denied its latest application for a grant that was supposed to enable the Phoenicia Water District to add a backup water supply loop along High Street. The initial funding fell through when engineering studies showed challenges that would exceed the amount of the grant. The town reapplied at a higher funding level, and New York State has rejected the latest application. Candace Balmer, who assists the water district with its grant processing, is trying to discover why the application failed. Because of recent home sales, the median income of homes purchased has risen above the poverty level, so a future application probably will not score the points necessary to obtain the grant. “We will have to look for a loan or another grant source or bond it out,” said Stanley. “We have to get this work done, not just the loop, but a third finishing pump is part of the project. We have to address it this year.”
The formation of a septic maintenance district for the hamlet of Shandaken has been proceeding smoothly. Most likely 2019 will see the arrangements completed for 50 or so homes that will receive funding for septic repairs and replacements when needed.
New projects may move forward regarding floodplain management in the Phoenicia area, as recommended in the Local Flood Analysis report. Under consideration are relocation of some Main Street buildings and excavation of streamside areas to make more room for floodwaters, with plantings to stabilize the new banks. Funding is available from the Ashokan Watershed Stream Management Program. “It would require permitting from the DEC,” said Stanley, “but we’re not looking to do any in-stream work, so it should be feasible to get permits.”
The town is waiting to hear from NY Rising on the possibility of funding for creation of a new municipal office complex east of Phoenicia. Since drawings were made up last year, no word has come from the state program.
New York State has scheduled further improvements to be made at Belleayre Ski Center in the spring, including construction of a new lodge. This winter, despite rain and warm temperatures at lower elevations, snow-making is proceeding on the mountain, and business has been brisk. “So far so good,” said Stanley. “The new gondola has had a big impact.”
At the town board’s January organizational meeting, the STR information-sharing agreement with Ulster County, tabled last month, received approval after an owner’s group took a look at the content. “Everyone at the last [STR committee] meeting seemed to be in accord that it’s just about getting data from the county,” Stanley said. The committee meets again on Monday, January 14, at 6:30 p.m., at the town hall, as it continues the process of considering how best to regulate STRs in Shandaken.
Former ambulance squad chief Richard Mullerleile has been reinstalled as chief for the coming year, with his replacement, Brendan Whalen, stepping down to the deputy chief position.