Funds trickle down for Ancram culvert repairs

ANCRAM—Unless you are an organism that lives in and/or travels by water you may not care much about culverts.

Those drains or channels that allow water to flow under a road, railroad or sidewalk are the main routes some water-inhabitants take to get around.

Now Ancram’s water- and land-dwelling residents, for that matter, can rest easier. The town has received a $220,000 grant to fix up culverts on the Roeliff Jansen Kill within the Punch Brook and Shekomeko subwatersheds.

Some small culverts do not allow the passage of floodwaters resulting from current and future predicted rainfall events. They will be replaced with bigger ones that will keep water moving and in the places it is supposed to be—a good thing for both landlubbers and denizens of the damp.

Ancram was one of three grant recipients, in a program of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that awarded a total of $382,500 for “culvert-replacement projects to help restore aquatic habitat in tributary streams of the Hudson River estuary, reduce localized flooding and improve water quality,” DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said in a press release. Scenic Hudson Land Trust, Inc. received $97,500 and Ulster County received $65,000.

Colleen Lutz, who serves Ancram in many capacities, including as clerk for the Planning and Zoning boards, wrote the grant application for the town and spoke about it at the September 17 Town Board meeting. Those present gave her a round of applause for her efforts.

“The culverts also are barriers to the movement of American eel and brown trout. Stream crossings will be redesigned and resized to improve stream flow and capacity, and to maintain stream-bottom habitat for aquatic organisms. Perched culverts-outlets elevated above the downstream water surface may also be restored to grade to improve habitat connection for aquatic life. The streams and related wetlands of the Roeliff Jansen Kill are recreational and cultural resources for residents and tourists,” the DEC release said.

The town will replace a minimum of two and a maximum of 17 culverts and has received the draft of a contract from the DEC, Town Supervisor Art Bassin said in a follow-up phone call this week.

The Town will “do its due diligence up front” by consulting with engineers, the town’s rural community planner Nan Stolzenburg and Laura Sager at the Columbia County Soil and Water Conservation District to make sure the culverts are properly designed and constructed for “maximum aquatic passibility,” said Mr. Bassin. He added that once DEC gives the okay and depending on the specifications, the town’s highway crew may be able to do the bulk of the work.

The money will be distributed to the town in the same manner as the state Consolidated Highway Improvement Program, called “CHIPs money,” the supervisor said. “After we spend it, they pay us back,” he said. The town has two years to complete the work, starting October 1.

In other business the Town Board:

*Heard that despite allowing everyone to swim in the town pool for free this summer, the pool brought in more revenue than last year. A pool fund was set up to receive donations. The town Highway Department will pave an area around the pool for a cost of not more than $2,000

*Heard the Highway Department has taken possession of two new 10-wheel Kenmore trucks with dump bodies, plows and wings, for which the town took out a $396,665 loan. The trucks can haul 18 tons apiece and everyone was invited to go to the town garage to see them and even get in them. Taking them for a spin is negotiable. Mr. Bassin said the town needs two more of these trucks in the next two years

*Was introduced to visitor Peter Cipkowski, who is currently the Hillsdale Town Historian, president of the Roeliff Jansen Historical Society and, according to Mr. Bassin, the Town of Hillsdale’s next supervisor. Mr. Cipkowski is both the Democratic and the Republican nominee for the post

*Heard that the Town Hall roof has a leak. Mr. Bassin climbed into the attic to see what he could see and came back with the assessment that “the Town Hall has a nice looking attic.”

The Town Board’s next meeting is October 15 starting at 6:45 p.m. with another public hearing on the 2016 budget.

To contact Diane Valden email

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