Act if you care about the village
To The Editor:
At the Margaretville Village Board meeting in November, Mayor Stanton confirmed that the board would not be seeking FEMA funding to mitigate the Binnekill bulkhead damage.
Shortly after Irene, I recognized a new problem in the river at the bulkhead site. The river streambed is now blocked with gravel and is so high that it will take only a three-foot rise for the river to flood into the Binnekill. This, and the additional damage to the bulkhead, was what was going on during Irene. It explains the disproportionate flood damage from the corner of Bridge Street along upper Main Street It is also an alert that Upper Main Street is now at an even higher risk of flooding.
I reported this to the village board, the village Code Enforcement Officer, County Emergency Management and DCS&WCD. Return calls from county agencies made it clear that it was the responsibility of the village board to initiate action. There was no effort to inform the public, or to take action while there was opportunity to get river work done.
Since 1996, the village community has had to endure a Binnekill swamp during dry seasons and historically high water along Main Street during floods. The board has refused to fulfill a contractual agreement in a 1902 deed that obligates the village to maintain the Binnekill bulkhead. The board has held the Binnekill hostage for the last seven years for their own purposes while ignoring the warning of flood effect. Now they realize they cannot seize the property they want, so they have walked away from the issue; just as the risk to the village has increased and an opportunity to get the job done right is available.
So who should care? Anyone who owns property, lives, or makes a living on upper Main Street that has been impacted by high water since 1996. Anyone who is concerned about the appearance and property values along upper Main Street. Anyone who has experienced the stress of flood evacuation, initial cleanup, and or recovery; and believes less would be better. Anyone who cares about the Binnekill with its summer flowers, fish, ducks, and winter ice for walking and skating. And anyone who cares about how all of these things impact their livelihood, as well as their pride in and enjoyment of the village.
The business community has come together to help itself. The signs out to greet and direct the public after the flood, the lighted storefronts and united advertising effort for Christmas that declared their survival took commitment and hard work. Their “Duck in the Mud” campaign broke a seven-year deadlock. I hope the larger community will follow their lead to force the village board to do their job to protect the village and to end the rift that has damaged our community for so long.
The decision on FEMA funding must be reversed soon, before the opportunity is lost. The next board meeting is Thursday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 p.m If you care, please be there.