State funding — including more than $5 million for Schoharie County — will relieve taxpayers of the local share of costs for projects to restore streams damaged during last year’s tropical storms.
State officials on Friday announced a total of $16 million from the New York Works program that will help more than 20 counties repair damage with the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The announcement is big news in Schoharie County, where officials feared their decision to serve as local sponsor for $21.2 million in work was going to cost the county more than $5 million in matching funds. Instead, New York state will pay $5.3 million of the matching funds, according to the announcement.
“This news is tremendous,” said Alicia Terry, director of Schoharie County’s Planning and Development Agency.
State officials said the work is aimed not only at restoring creeks and streams but also at preventing additional damage in the event of future flooding.
“Restoring streams will go a long way to minimize damage from future storm events,” Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said in a news release. “Working with DEC, local communities will now have the needed funds to prevent future damage to property, infrastructure and the environment.”
Among the projects to receive state assistance is the restoration of two miles of Line Creek in the towns of Middleburgh and Fulton, five miles of the Little Schoharie Creek in the town of Middleburgh and one mile of the Platter Kill Creek in the town of Gilboa.
Projects in Montgomery and Schenectady counties were approved for lesser funding, according to the announcement. Montgomery County will receive more than $418,000 for several projects, including a debris assessment study to evaluate the banks of the Schoharie Creek and pinpoint trouble areas still laden with post-storm debris.
Montgomery County officials have expressed concern that tons of trees and logs either teetering on failing slopes or sitting on the creek’s shores would turn into either battering rams or blockages in the event of another major storm.
Also funded are cleanup projects at two readily accessible sites along the Schoharie Creek. The town of Amsterdam’s plan to restore the Evas Kill will also receive funding.
Several repair projects in Schenectady County will be sharing $521,445 in state funding. These include work to restore and stabilize the Normanskill Creek to protect public water supplies and private wellheads from future flooding, as well as stream bank restoration along Old Route 30.
Silt and sediment will also be removed from a tributary of the Normanskill beneath the Young’s Road Bridge, and stabilization of the streambed and banks on the Plotterkill Creek will also get funding in Schenectady County.
Legislators representing Schoharie County — set to receive the greatest amount of money from Friday’s announcement — were pleased the massive damage wrought by Irene and Lee wasn’t forgotten.
“The flood mitigation grants are another signal to flood-ravaged communities that New York state is standing with you throughout the rebuilding process, and a pledge to homeowners and businesses that we are doing all we can to make New York State a great place to live and work and prosper,” Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said in a news release.
Both Seward and Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, have been pushing for more state assistance.
“I cannot overemphasize how thankful we are to have the governor as an able partner in recovery from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee,” Lopez said in the release.