Flood funding options unveiled by committee

By Joe Moskowitz
For the past six months, a committee of community leaders has been trying to figure out how to spend $3,000,000 in the Village of Margaretville to help alleviate flooding. Monday night, a crowd of more than 50 people found out how the money might be spent, and were given the opportunity to express their opinions on the committee’s plans.
It isn’t the fist time the public has been involved in the process. Ever since the State of New York decided to channel federal flood relief dollars to Margaretville, the Rising Community Committee has been taking suggestions from the public.
Committee co-chair, and MTC President Glen Faulkner, said the committee had heard more than 150 suggestions, and during Monday’s session at the Catskill Mountain Christian Center, the crowd got to hear the top 10.

Not all will fly
Not all of the proposed projects will be approved. There is neither enough money nor time to do them all. The committee, and Tetra Tech, the firm that was contracted to conduct the study and coordinate the effort, will decide next month which projects to start first.
John Mizerak of Tetra Tech said something has to be stated this year, and the money must be spent within two years. The clock stated ticking six months ago.
One of the potential projects would be another study. It would involve Bridge Street and examine how to alleviate flooding and bring businesses back to that area. That study would cost $200,000.
Some of the proposed projects would include major infrastructure redesign and repair, including the Binnekill bulkhead, flood proofing Margaretville Central School, and work on Scott’s Brook. The Binnekill project would cost about $1.5 million, and the MCS work and Scott’s Brook project, which would also impact the school, would total $3.5 million.
There were other projects mentioned which could be started fairly quickly. One of them would be the purchase of the Masonic Building. That became the ill-fated eCenter. It could be purchased from Delaware County and renovated. The cost would be $325,000. The exact use would have to be determined but one suggestion was for apartments upstairs and another is to transform the building it into a boutique hotel.

Firehall improvements
Another potential project would involve spending $360,000 to expand and renovate the Margaretville Firehall and adjacent Margaretville Department of Public Works facility. The rationale being they are needed during an emergency.
The committee will also consider spending $1.7 million to help small businesses renovate their buildings. The former Galli Curci Theater building was one of the buildings mentioned. Some of the money could also go to purchase substandard houses on Main Street and convert them into commercial structures.

Flood plain talk
The meeting wasn’t entirely about new construction. A significant portion was dedicated to explaining the nature of the flood plain. According to Tetra tech, even if all of the buildings and bridges were removed, the potential for flooding wouldn’t change much. The plan is to limit the damage and to make recovery easier, should there be another flood, and to insure long-term economic viability.
Then it was the public’s turn. Burr Hubbell thanked the committee for its hard work, then said he wanted to know why just $3 million from the stare and federal governments is being made available when so much more is needed.
Margaretville resident Jennifer Kabat wanted to know if it would be wise to spend $3 million on the school in light of declining enrollments and some discussion of consolidation. She also wanted to know why money should be spent on the eCenter since if failed commercially and is for sale. After it was explained that the building is an anchor structure, and would no longer be used as an eCenter, M-ARK Executive Director Peg Ellsworth suggested to start calling it the Masonic Lodge.
The Masonic Lodge building is home to the Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce. Executive Director Carol O’Beirne, who is also co-chair of the Rising Community Committee, said she will be there to continue to take suggestions from the public until final decisions are reached.