State releases funds for flood repairs

COPAKE–Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee dumped upward of eight-inches of rain on parts of Columbia County in late August of last year–flooding homes, washing away roads and closing bridges. In some places the damage is still evident.

Money to restore and rehabilitate waterways in the form of $9 million in state Flood Mitigation and Flood Control Grant Awards was recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, with Copake receiving the lion’s share in Columbia County.

Of the 10 projects within Columbia County that will receive portions of the $335,564 total funding award designated for the county, a Bash Bish Creek project in Copake to remove flood debris and restore both the stream bed and the stream bank will receive a total grant of $103,771, which would cost an estimated $202,000 to complete.

At the Town Board’s September 4 meeting, the board unanimously agreed to enter into an inter-municipal agreement with the county to get the work done.

Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer, who has been meeting with the Columbia County Soil and Water Conservation District, the sponsoring organization, said Laura Sager, the agency’s executive director, will administer the grants throughout the county.

Mr. Nayer thanked the county for working with the town to get things rolling, noting that the town could not afford to pay project costs up-front or out-of-pocket and then wait indefinitely to be reimbursed by the state. According to Mr. Nayer, the county will supply the funds and apply for reimbursement when the projects are completed.

Copake residents along County Route 7A whose homes were flooded by the overflowing Bash Bish Creek during the storms will be happy to get the work done, Mr. Nayer said.

The Maple Lane bridge, which spans the Bash Bish and has been closed since the storms last year, suffered a damaged pier, and is going to be repaired by the county–not as part of the waterway grant project. So far, the DEC has issued the county two permits to work in the creek–one to remove accumulated gravel upstream from the bridge and the other to replace the damaged pier and stone fill along the bridge abutments. Director of Engineering for the county Department of Public Works Dean Knox could not be reached by press deadline for more details.

According to Ms. Sager, the removal of gravel and debris from the creek will start roughly near where the creek flows under Route 22 and include a three-quarter mile section of the creek to County Route 7A near the former Hub restaurant.

Walter Kiernan, a dairy farmer, excavation business owner/operator and former Copake councilman, has already completed the clearing out of a section of the creek further to the east. Mr. Kiernan owns land along the creek where crops were washed out by the flooding last year and received funding for the work, which he did himself, through the Agriculture Community Recovery Fund.

Ms. Sager said the grants call for projects to be completed by the end of 2013. But since the DEC must issue permits for the work, the schedule will be subject to DEC criteria and is heavily dependent on the weather.

A request for project bids has already been published in this newspaper and proposals were due back September 7, she said.

Asked where the $98,229 difference between the estimated project cost and the allotted grant money will come from, Ms. Sager said she expected it would come down to a conversation between the DEC and the contractor to determine which pieces of the project to complete.

Other projects funded throughout the county are:

*Livingston, Roeliff Jansen Kill Creek repair of stream bank stabilization measure: restoring a previously installed stream bank protection measure that was damaged and partially eroded. Total project cost $16,000; total grant award $16,000

*New Lebanon, Shaker Road Bridge scour protection: repairing erosion at the abutments and wing walls of the Shaker Road Bridge where it crosses the Wyomanock Creek. Total project cost $20,000; total grant award $5,000.

*Taghkanic, Taghkanic Creek flood debris removal and stream channel restoration: removal of flood debris, stream channel restoration and limited stream bank restoration along a 4,000-foot segment of Taghkanic Creek. Total project cost $58,000; total grant award $58,000.

*New Lebanon, Wyomanock Creek flood debris and stream bank stabilization: removal of debris located within the main stream channel. There are also areas of stream bank eroding at an accelerated rate and this project also includes vegetative practices such as brush matting, live stake plantings or similar practices to stabilize the banks and limit future erosion. Total project cost $17,500; total grant award $17,500.

*Austerlitz, Green River flood debris removal gravel bar removal and stream channel restoration: only includes segment 3 of the Lower Green River and involves debris removal, gravel bar removal and stream bank restoration in order to protect the Old Hotel Camp, Greenhouses, Upper Hollow Bridge, and River Road. The first and second segments of this project are not approved for funding. Total project cost $6,213; total grant award $4,000.

*Austerlitz, Punsit Creek flood debris removal, stream bank stabilization, stream bank restoration and gravel bar removal: four portions of this stream segment have various degrees of stream bank erosion/damage and debris and gravel that need to be removed. Portions of this stream segment are impacting culverts associated with the Taconic State Parkway. Total project cost $34,800; total grant award $27,900.

*Austerlitz, Indian Brook to NYS Route 203 from the Taconic State Parkway: Indian Brook flood debris removal, stream bank stabilization, stream bank restoration, stream channel restoration and gravel bar removal. This stream segment has sections where stream bank erosion/damage has occurred and debris and gravel that needs to be removed. Total project cost $31,360; total grant award $25,350.

*Claverack, Hollowville Creek stream bank restoration and gravel bar removal: 200-foot section of the bank of Hollowville Creek in the Hollowville hamlet has been undercut and has washed away. In one area the top of the eroded bank is approximately 8′ from the nearest residence. The stream bank in this hamlet area needs to be stabilized to minimize future erosion and potential impacts upon several residences along the stream. Total project cost $20,562; total grant award $20,562.

*Claverack, North Creek stream bank restoration flood debris removal: flood debris and gravel are redirecting the flow against a steep bank resulting in the undercutting and stream bank failure. Gravel bar and debris will be removed and the stream channel will be redirected away from the eroded bank to prevent further undercutting. Total project cost $24,417; total grant award $24,417.

To contact Diane Valden email .

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