A dozen Fort Plain households will likely reclaim the peace of mind and many feet of lawn they lost to the Otsquago Creek two years ago.
According the village mayor Guy Barton, a project to reinforce 550 feet of the creek’s right bank between Reid and Abbott Street is currently going through the permit approval process at the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Barton, who lives near the creek, can still give a rather chilling account of the flooding that took place Aug. 22, 2010.
“It’s a violent creek,” he said. “It took down trees and threw them against the Reid Street bridge. The fire department had to evacuate people from their homes. Some people lost 40 feet of their backyard.”
The inches of rain that fell on the village and town of Minden were funneled through Otsquago, washing away a few structures, including an entire garage, and leaving the new bank perilously close to some homes.
Since then, especially with tropical storms Irene and Lee last summer, he said the danger of erosion has been a constant source of worry for creekside dwellers.
“There is a lot of private and village land in danger if we don’t reinforce the banks,” he said.
According the schedule laid out by John McDonald Engineering, who designed the project, once all the DEC permits are obtained construction can begin this December.
“They want to get this done and do it right,” said project engineer Tom Bates, “so it will stand up to future floods.”
In order to stop the erosion, many tons of stone will be lowered into place where the bank once was, then back filled to restore the lost backyards.
Bates said they’ll use riprap stone, which ranges from boulders the size of pickup trucks to fist-sized rocks.
“It’s very jagged,” he said, “so it won’t wash away.”
Back in 2010, the village was fined $1,000 by the DEC for stirring up silt with bulldozers while attempting to push gravel up onto the crumbling bank. Such clouding of creek water is considered a violation of state Environmental Conservation Law.
To avoid similar fines, Bates said contractors will use silt fences — lengths of plastic cheesecloth-type material — to keep the cloudy water around the work area away from the main flow.
In all, the project will cost between $250,000 and $300,000, though it is still early in the bidding process and that number could change.
The FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will likely pay for most of the project, but Barton said the village will do whatever it has to to get the project done.
“The residents are excited,” he said, “but they understand government funds move slowly.”
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