Binnekill stream repair funding is anticipated by officials

By Brian Sweeney
Margaretville officials are awaiting formal approval of funding to make improvements that would again have water flowing through the Binnekill Stream.

Mayor Bill Stanton told a group of community leaders at a meeting on Monday that he was received a verbal commitment that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will allocate money for upgrading the bulkhead that allows water to flow into the Binnekill.

The small stream that runs through the center of the village has often been dry during the past seven years as result of damage to the bulkhead and large accumulations of gravel. The bulkhead consists of a large pipe and long stonewall installed in the East Branch of the Delaware River that diverts water into the Binnekill.

In order to perform bulkhead repairs, village officials need permission to cross a section of land owned by Lauren Davis. The parties have been unable to reach agreement on a plan and case has been tied up in litigation.

In March, a judge ruled in favor of the village in an eminent domain proceeding and granted the village an easement across Mr. Davis’ property.

Mayor Stanton said Monday that the village had secured a FEMA grant for the project about seven years ago, but lost the funding when it failed to reach an agreement for property access with Mr. Davis.

Lenghty process
The mayor said that his board, along with Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Patrick Davis, has been working with state and federal officials to obtain a new funding commitment for the work.
Mayor Stanton said this week that he’s hoping to receive formal notification of project funding from FEMA within a month. The work is expected to cost approximately $250,000.

CEO Davis said even if the approval were granted this week, it would take a minimum of six months to get engineering performed, permits in place and to solicit bids. The realistic scenario, he said, would be project completion by next summer

He noted that stream work is limited to June 15-September 30 timeframe by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The CEO said the bulkhead upgrade would regulate water flow into the Binnekill and also divert floodwater so it more of it flows within the East Branch stream and less directly into the village.

A long wait
Among those attending Monday’s meeting was Eric Wedemeyer, president of the area’s largest real estate company, Coldwell Banker Timberland Properties.

Mr. Wedemeyer said he understood the need to pursue funding for the project, so that taxpayers are not burdened with paying for repairs. Like many others in the village, he expressed frustration with the long periods when the Binnekill is dry, unattractive and foul smelling.

“We have a village that has been hit hard and seven years is a long time. It’s difficult enough to get people in here,” commented Mr. Wedemeyer.