Local communities tabbed for up to $3 million in aid

By Joe Moskowitz
The Village of Margaretville and the towns of Hardenburgh and Shandaken in Ulster County could each receive up to $3 million from the Federal Government, by way of the State of New York.
The money will go for economic development and to prevent the type of physical and financial damage caused two years ago by Hurricane Irene from ever happening again.

As with many area communities, Margaretville, Hardenburgh, and Shandaken already qualified for New York’s “Rising Community” flood relief program, but an additional $25 million has been set aside for the most severely affected communities and, according to Governor Cuomo’s office, these three municipalities are on the list of those eligible for help.

Plans are required
Margaretville Mayor Diana Cope cautions that the state is not going to deposit a $3 million check in the village’s bank account. A committee has been formed to work with community members who will decide what is needed most. It will then be up to the village board to decide which of the committee’s recommendations will go on the list of projects that the state could fund. The state will then decide if the requests merit funding and how much money to spend on each project.
The program is called the New York State Community Reconstruction Zone Planning Program. Cope says people are weary of plans, but that the state will do the planning and the building. The community will decide what is needed.

The long view
The state isn’t looking for what Cope calls band-aid solutions. New York wants ideas that will last for a generation or more.
The mayor says she would like to see money spent on infrastructure. The Bull Run stream and the East Branch of the Delaware River are at the top of her list, but she is not on the committee.
Central Catskill Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol O’Beirne is a co-chair of the committee that will draw up the “wish list.” She shares the chairperson’s role with a person who heads up the Sidney committee. Sidney will not share the money and there is talk of separating the groups as the distance between the two communities is so great. O’Beirne says she feels the money needs to be spent to keep people and businesses from leaving. She says they need to know Margaretville is safe and they won’t have to worry about flooding every time it rains.
Neither O’Beirne nor Cope have current plans on how to spend the money. That’s not for them to decide. It’s up to the committee, whose members include O’Beirne, MTC General Manager Glen Faulkner, financial planner and lodging co-owner Peter Molnar, MARK Project Executive Director Peg Ellsworth, former Margaretville Mayor Bill Stanton, and realtor Eric Wedemeyer.
The communities have eight months to come up with a plan of action.