Present: Carl Stuendel, Bruce Dolph, John Van Benschoten, Stephen Walker, Michael McCrary, Tony Coiro, Linda Burkhardt, Counsel: Jeff Baker.
Others in Attendance: Todd Pascarella, Tim Cox, Graydon Dutcher, Aaron Bennett, Rick Weidenbach, Michelle Yost, Dean Frazier. DEP guests: Jeffrey D. Graf -Chief, Watershed Lands and Community Planning and Beth Reichheld – Program Manager of DEP’s Stream Management Program (SMP).
1. Call to order: 6:18 PM
2. Minutes: Moved to approve Bruce Dolph, Seconded by Michael McCrary. Approved as amended. Eliminating the word the prior to the word that in the second line of the 4th paragraph under #5. Right of Objection.
3. Privilege of the floor – DEP – Stream Implementation Spending
Carl introduced Jeff Graf and Beth Reichheld from the DEP to discuss expenditures to date by the DEP on the Stream Program. They explained the rationale behind the spending for Phase I of the Stream Program from 1995 through 2007 of $28 million; spending plus the committed funds to complete obligations not yet implemented for Phase II from 2007 through 2013 of $30 million. Phase III funding commitment of $46.4 million excluding flood buyout funds plus $2.7 million for continued professional development. All funds include administrative costs. Administrative costs as a percentage of dollars committed is rapidly changing toward more implementation now that the programs are established. These funds do not include the millions of outside sources of funding that added to this total for example, the 3.1 million implemented in Delaware County and those projects in the other stream program projects.
A history was provided of how the program began in 1996 and evolved to date.
Phase I involved training of staff for in house expertise at the local level, organizing local committees to drive local decisions, pilot projects for implementation and inventory of all streams and conditions. This Phase was very labor intensive. In excess of 1,000 stream miles were walked. The primary goal was to identify problem areas, establish data to use as baselines for the development of the program and establish local expertise that address water quality and simultaneously address local needs. Streams were measured and analyzed to determine what problems existed and where changes to stream systems would be beneficial. Four programs were set up in each stream program effort including highways, recreation, stream corridor decisions and education and outreach that reported to the local Project Advisory Committees. The PAC would vote on proposed projects and members include elected officials. For example, in Delaware County the PAC voting members are elected town supervisors or their designee.
Phase II, Implementation, included:
19 flood mitigation projects
46 stream bank projects
23 stormwater related projects
8 other projects ‑‑ post flood emergency response Massive amount involving millions of work federal share 75% and city share 25%.
133 Riparian buffer projects
Floods related to Lee and Irene influenced a large shift toward flood mitigation issues and is reflected in the funding for Phase III. Phase III funding includes money for the LFAs, SMIPs, the CWC relocation fund, and voluntary buyout program option for municipalities. Reports are required by the FAD from the stream programs. The Phase III program flood buyout program is a community based decision. No one is forcing a municipality to utilize any of the programs in Phase III.
The DEP’s website is being developed to include a click point that anyone on the internet can go to for each project. It will show it on a map with pictures and any available costs associated with the design and the final construction cost. The board was reminded that it’s not just the flow of water but the ability to assure the best sediment transport possible and is the stream capable of that in its current state. Phase II involved implementation in earnest and putting projects on the ground.
4. Report – January 23rd FAD $15 million (voluntary) flood buyout meeting. Counsel summarized the discussion and output from that meeting. The DEP laid out an outline to begin discussions. Very similar to the position put forth by the CWT. The next meeting will involve more detailed discussion. Discussion ensued regarding the flood buyout program and relocation program. Anchor business is exempt from host community approval. Buyout will require a change to the WSP. CWC jurisdiction does not currently include funding for relocations outside the designate hamlet areas. It was suggested that the Flood Mitigation Program needs to be able to address orphan properties outside hamlet designation areas, including the SCWDs. A discussion about the ability to move a school independent of community approval was tabled. Should go to negotiations. A discussion needs pursuing at the next meeting set aside up to $8 million for orphan projects and the need to get information on the universe of such properties and criteria for eligibility.
5. Right of Objection – A brief comment that it is necessary in order for the CWC to transfer the money’s into the future stormwater fund. Without it they could not front load the stream programs in light of a shortfall prior to completion of contract registrations.
6. Windham Mountain Sporting Club Project – Report on the project. Role of the Watershed Inspector General. – The Coalition discussed the challenges being posed by Phil Bein, Watershed Inspector General (WIG), at a project in Windham. Issues at hand include stormwater regulations. Counsel stated the WIG’s role is not that of a regulator, but he is inserting himself into the process. It is a watchdog position created by the MOA with the purpose of monitoring the City and State for violations of their own regulations. Michael McCrary moved the following:
Whereas it would appear the WIG has interjected himself into the Windham Development project that exceeding his jurisdiction. The Coalition of Watershed Towns therefore resolves that Counsel write a letter to the Attorney General and copy the Governor’s office to express the concerns of this interjection and to attach the Executive order outlining the WIGs jurisdiction.
Bruce Dolph seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
a. Final FAD- Goal is to have to EPA by April 30.
i. Contracts – Phase III contracts with the stream program and the CWC program are getting closer to finalization. Counsel reported that he will be seeking information relative to the scope of work in each contract, the timeline of existing contracts and at which point existing contracts will run short of funds. The 12-18 month time frame for registration is far too long and will create funding gaps if not addressed. His most urgent concern is to assure that these financial commitments are part of the 2014-2015budget. He wants to assure that funding for the CWC appropriately compliments the SWCD and CCE stream contracts. The CWT is not interested in micromanaging anything, they wish to assure that these component relationships work well.
ii. Questions regarding FAD status and progress: Town of Middletown and Villages of Margaretville and Fleischmanns. Fleischmmans’ Mayor Pascarella expressed concerns about a lack of information and understanding about the voluntary Flood Buyout Program. The primary concern is to not depopulate the community and lose the tax base. The City responded that they will only participate as a resource and cooperator in this voluntary effort where a community chooses to consider the buyout option that is available to them. The decision to participate is the communities. It was stated that the relocation program at the CWC was established in part to help keep communities whole where communities choose to participate in that the CWC and other funding sources could help relocate a qualified business or home in the same municipality. Linda Burkhardt reinforced Mayor Pascarella’s concern.
b. Kurt Ossenfort proposal – nothing to report.
c. Outreach – Report on Watershed Summit: Michelle Yost – great attendance, great presentations. Kudos to Michelle for another great job.
d. Below Dams –
i. Delaware River Below Dams Initiatives – things are moving forward with regard to the collaborative effort between the Villages of Hancock and Deposit and the Towns of Hancock, Deposit and Colchester and the Friends of the Upper Delaware River pertaining to the near term concerns with the FFMP and the longer term perspective for the Upper Delaware River Tailwaters.
ii. [Approved April 21, 2014 to read:] Consent Order – Esopus – Aaron Bennett reported that the $2.74 million fine has been allocated as follows: $2.64M of that is for Environmental Benefit Projects including $2M for stream restoration projects, $10,000 for fish stocking, $200,000 for the development of a stream management plan, $350,000 for stream gauges (including a new one at Lomontville, Town of Marbletown, that went “live” in November), and $80,000 to hire a technical consultant for communities to hire a technical consultant for communities to hire to help in the environmental impact statement review process. (Ulster County has agreed to be the fiduciary entity to handle/disseminate the funds for the fish stocking, technical consultant, and stream management plan – a total of $290,000.)
e. Dues – Status of accounts: Carl reported that he had met with the Town of Stamford and that he asked them to stand in solidarity with the rest of the Towns. They questioned the formula for calculating the dues and why the Town of Stamford, the Villages of Hobart and Stamford also pay dues when the Town is paying $1,000.
f. CWT Website – Carl reported that he will enable the CWT to post meeting minutes on line for better transparency for the public at large. He also informed the CWT could post a news letter on this site, but that he would need help from members to make this work.
g. Meeting with NRDC – still pending.
h. Riparian Buffer Program – City RFPs for the Program. None have been released. Counsel will look in to this. Stephen moved to have Council write a letter to the DEP requesting information from them as to what the status of the RFPS are. Seconded by Linda Burkhardt.
8. Warrants and Treasurers Report. Bruce moved to pay the warrants and accept the treasurer’s report. Seconded by Linda Burkhardt. Passed Unanimously. Checkbook balance $1000.16; Savings balance $103,289.47.
9. Correspondence – noted.
10. Other – none.
11. Adjourn: 8:45PM. Moved by Bruce Dolph, no discussion, seconded by Mike McCrary. Passed.