The town of Cobleskill is moving forward with eminent domain procedures to secure easements on 15 properties in the path of a sewer and water extension project.
Town Supervisor Thomas Murray said roughly 70 easements are needed on parcels along Route 7, where the $9.1 million project would bring sewer and water services extended from the village of Cobleskill.
The project aims to bring upgraded infrastructure to the corridor stretching from Borst Noble Road to the Cobleskill town border with Schoharie to the east.
Following notification of all affected property owners, Murray said none filed an Article 78 lawsuit and he’s heard from two landowners hoping to cash in on the easement deal.
“There is no money to pay anyone,” said Murray, who explained that the project’s budget, including more than $4 million in support from New York state, doesn’t make room for buying easements.
Murray said the new water district won’t be earning any money from the system.
The only entity expected to earn revenue is the village of Cobleskill when it sells water to the new district.
The project is being supported with $4.1 million in state funding, $2 million from Schoharie County, $3 million from Howe Caverns Inc., $175,000 from National Grid, and another $150,000 appropriated by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Murray said one landowner doesn’t claim ownership of a parcel and won’t sign off on the easement, and none of the remaining 13 sent in notarized permissions as requested.
There have not been any outcries from residents at Town Board meetings, and Murray said he thinks many of the remaining property owners are too busy for paperwork.
“I just think a lot of people didn’t have time to get to the notary,” said Murray.
The slow pace of getting easement agreements is threatening the work’s schedule, but Murray said contractors are able to work around it.
The sewer and water extension project includes a segment leading to the state highway from Howe Caverns property. Contractors will have to work on off-hours and make use of steel plates to cover up the trench that is supposed to cross beneath the main driveway entrance to Howe Caverns.