Home owners along flood-ravaged Washington Avenue are asking the village to create more of a buffer between Collins Park and their property, fearing another flood will wash debris back onto their land.
Four residents of the neighborhood, which was pounded by Tropical Storm Irene last August, spoke Wednesday before the Board of Trustees to express their concerns. Peggy Brunez said work to rebuild the park is noisy and creating a “dust bowl.”
“With their tractors, they’re bringing up these huge dust clouds that go from there right into our yards and into houses,” she said.
Brunez added that she was coughing for two months from the dust after the floods hit and now it’s starting again. “There’s no barrier between us and the park,” she said.
Linda Gibbons, of 33 Washington Ave., said park employees are depositing chopped-up trees close to their backyards. She would like to see some type of buffer or barrier between park land and their property.
“We’re just afraid that we’re going to try to get our yards fixed up and this stuff is going to get washed back in another heavy rain or — God forbid — another flood,” she said.
In addition, Gibbons said a neighboring property owner is dumping some refuse on land bordered by a paper street — a street that exists on village maps but has not been developed.
Sue Greene, of 25 Washington Ave., said the flooding created a big gully on one side of Livingston Avenue, which washed away fill material that another property owner has been putting in over the years.
“Some spots are two to four feet deep of rubble in the yard. We’re just trying to figure out if there’s anything the town can do,” she said, her voice breaking at times.
Len Brunez said he and his wife are still living in the upstairs of their house while they try to renovate the downstairs. He wanted to see if the village could offer some help or tap into FEMA funding.
“By the village, we’ve been forgotten on that street,” he said.
In response to the questions, Mayor Kris Kastberg said he checked with the Schenectady County Health Department, which said the dust cloud poses no health risk. His other big concern is mosquitoes, which were out in force because of the standing water. Because of environmental regulations, municipalities can no longer buy larvicide and dump it into standing water, but private citizens can.
As for a buffer between the park and the homes, he said when the leaves are on the trees, there will be a buffer between the park and the residents. Some trees were felled by the storm, however.
“We can’t magically grow trees and make that barrier grow,” he said.
Kastberg said the village is still trying to clean up the park, which was saturated with water. There are only two full-time park employees and it is a big job, he said. The village had to wait for the water to drain before it could even get into the park with its equipment.
He said he would look into the issue of the property owner dumping refuse on the paper street.
Regarding financial assistance for flood recovery, Kastberg said the county is coordinating the distribution of all public funding.
“The village itself isn’t playing any role in getting that money,” he said.
Kastberg said property owners along Washington Avenue were surveyed about their needs in the fall. Funding is being distributed based on the results of that survey. In addition, two local charities — Scotia Relief and Scotia Cares — distributed Lowe’s vouchers and other items to help the residents.
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