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NY Rising a chance for Montgomery County to break cycle of flooding

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
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— There are certain places in Amsterdam and the town of Florida that will likely just keep flooding.

Neighborhoods on the west and south sides of Amsterdam, Fort Hunter and the hamlet of Lost Valley have all flooded several times in past decades, most recently during tropical storms Irene and Lee.

“The hamlet of Lost Valley has been flooded out a dozen times in my memory,” said NY Rising committee member Brent Phetteplace, “and a few people still live there.”

Online extra

People interested in learning more about NY Rising can find information online at http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/nyrcr/community/city-amsterdam-town-amsterdam-and-town-florida.

At a meeting of the area NY Rising committee Tuesday morning, local members discussed ways to stop the cycle of flooding, repair, mold remediation and inevitable re-flooding. Montgomery County Economic Development Director Ken Rose suggested buyouts for ruined homes in certain neighborhoods, or programs to lift at-risk homes onto foundations above the flood plain.

It’s all part of the much larger NY Rising flood recovery program that Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced back in July. Flood-damaged communities across the state will receive more than $750 million in federal funds to rebuild in ways resistant to natural disaster.

The town and city of Amsterdam, along with the town of Florida, qualified for $9 million in aid to be divided equally among the three. A dozen local politicians, business owners and general movers-and-shakers have been meeting regularly to figure out how best to spend the money.

Tuesday they met to finalize their draft conceptual plan, which is basically a list of all the stuff that’s broken or at risk in the area that could use a bunch of federal money.

“It’s nice to see all these projects on one list,” said Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane.

Besides a potential buyout program, the conceptual plan details projects such as moving the Amsterdam Amtrak station to higher ground, dredging shallow sections of the Mohawk River, building 35-foot buffers along the length of the Schoharie Creek and significantly more.

All told, Amy Mahl said, the plans would cost many times the current amount of available funding.

Mahl runs the local NY Rising meetings as a representative from Ecology and Environment, a company hired by the state Department of State to help certain communities develop spending plans. She said the conceptual plan is a wish list rather than a commitment.

With the draft plan approved Tuesday, her team at Ecology and Environment will spend the winter running risk assessment and cost-benefit studies to figure out which projects provide “the most bang for the government buck.”

“We’ll do those projects first,” she said. “Then we’ll try and work on the other ones as new funding streams open up.”

A final plan will be finished in March of next year. The state will take that plan to the federal government which will, eventually, hand down some money. Then work can start.

Before any of that can happen, program regulations require a community input session. The committee attempted to hold such a public forum at Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy earlier this month, but only one person showed up.

The next session is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16 in the Florida Town Hall. At Thane’s suggestion, the NY Rising informational session will be paired with a pancake breakfast.

Community input will be added to the conceptual plan before a Nov. 20 government submission deadline.

 
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