Present: Tony Coiro, StephenWalker, Bill Layton, Bruce Dolph, Linda Burkhardt, Pete Bracci, Ric Coombe, MikeMcCrary, Counsel Jeff Baker. Catherine Magarelli, a potential member from Town of Woodstock..
Others present: Rick Weidenbach, Aaron Bennett, Michelle Yost, Tim Cox, Dean Frazier, Jeff Skelding – Director of Friends of the Upper Delaware River.
1. Call to order: 6:15 PM
2. Minutes – Feb 17, 2014 minutes: Motion to accept as amended Linda Burkhardt; second by Bill Layton. Passed unanimously.
March 17, 2014 minutes: Motion to accept Ric Coombe; second by Linda Burkhardt. Passed unanimously.
3. Privilege of the floor – Friends of the Upper Delaware River (FUDR)
Jeff Skelding spoke on behalf of the FUDR. Members of FUDR are avid fly fishermen that flock to the Upper Delaware and its tailwaters to enjoy fishing the world class cold water fishery. These reaches of the river system are naturally restocked. They are particularly interested in releases of greater volume and greater uniformity from both the Cannonsville and Pepacton dams to enhance the fishery. They have partnered with the Villages and Towns of Hancock and Deposit and the Town of Colchester in developing a unified statement for improvements to the forthcoming Flexible Flow Management Program, as well as, the City’s Operation Support Tool (OST). It is a nonprofit organization funded by its membership. They are partnering with the same municipalities to seek funding for the development of stream management programs in the area. They are a party to the recently released Upper Delaware River Cold Water Fishing and Boating: Economic Impact Study. Adding to Jeff’s comments Dean talked about the economic significance of these fisheries. It was also mentioned that over the last 3 years, 44 weekends have been lost due to inadequate or non-uniform releases.
FUDR is a community minded organization doing fundraising, such as their “One Bug” competition April 25 – 27 in Hancock. They look forward to any collaboration with the CWT wherever and whenever possible.
Relocation subcommittee – April 15, 2014 report and discussion of comments related to the NYC voluntary FBO program.
Carl summarized the discussion from the 4/15 meeting. A slide show was presented by Margaret Irwin a consultant who has worked with Prattsville, the Town of Union, and the Town of Sidney under the State’s New York Rising program to illustrate what the potential may be for communities to address flood buyouts and relocations. There was clear discussion that the voluntary NYC Flood Buyout program is not designed to do what NY Rising does as the NY Rising program has broader objectives and programs looking at a community wide systematic approach beyond flood mitigation.
In terms of funding, the NYC FBO program is not as broad in scope. NYC supports the principles of New York Rising, but its FBO program is not designed to finance comprehensive planning that could be useful in all steps, especially Phase II, of the LFA. Both programs require an LFA.
One leading participant in the overall discussion expressed a preference to have an overarching, community-makeover design in place and all funding sources for such a plan orchestrated (at least to have identified all the funding gaps) to ensure that issues identified in a preliminary LFA will not be set up as priorities to be acted upon immediately before the community has had time to consider undesirable and unintended consequences that may result from hasty implementation. One such concern is that parcels identified in an LFA as causing a choke point on the waterway under investigation might be deemed a good candidate for the buy-out program, but if purchased, could create a financial risk for the owner(s) and/or community if there is no funding available to resolve the risk.
Subsequently, another participant in the discussion raised a concern about waiting for such an overarching plan to be in place before any community action could be taken. At the CWT meeting Carl read a statement from William Harding of NYSDOS. Paraphrasing that statement (for the purpose of these minutes) it was Mr. Harding’s opinion that if the relocation group were to press for funding for comprehensive planning efforts funded under the NYC FBO, particularly without an LFA, that the City’s funding could easily sit untapped with the result that very little would be accomplished. He recommended that communities use the NYC FBO funds as intended so as not to lose the opportunities provided for under the City program and work toward finding additional funding for comprehensive planning efforts if a community wishes to pursue Phase II of the LFA in that frame of reference.
The discussion of the CWT Exec Committee overwhelmingly supported the need for using the science of the LFA first, regardless of using the City’s FBO approach or the NY Rising program approach. The science would inform critical decisions by communities relative to both non-buyout and buyout mitigation efforts. It was also recognized that it could be used to assist in decision making relative to buyout and relocation efforts. The general conclusion of the Executive Committee was that the LFA would identify where, if voluntary buyouts were to occur, the best return for money invested to reduce flood elevation levels. Additionally, given the priorities of the program, non-buyout mitigation efforts (low hanging fruit) that reduce flood elevations significantly should be the first priority with buyouts and/or relocations coming later and communities would need that information regardless of buyouts occurring or not. In response to unintended consequences, the negative risk potential discussed above, many noted that there is risk in anything a community does involving a major project and that is an accepted factor in any decision making. Additionally, it was noted that there is risk involved when specific properties and circumstances are identified a community’s All Hazards Mitigation Annex and when the town board approves FEMA’s new flood plain maps.
Carl reported that the CWC relocation funding provides no funding for planning needs. Jeff Baker suggested that the CWC board could be lobbied to amend the CWC’s Catskill Fund for the Future program, indicating there is not a legal barrier to do so.
Michelle Yost recommended that if communities choose to go through Phase II that they document the planning gaps in the process for future use in pursuing funds either from NYC, State or other funding sources. Acknowledging there will be some communities that do not have planning assistance to move them from Phase I, the LFA study, to Phase II, implementing projects, especially for large projects involving relocations, Michelle commented those communities will likely lag behind others with support (e.g., those in NY Rising Community Reconstruction) in getting projects off the ground and seeing results from the LFA.
Regarding program rules for the Relocation Program, Alan reported at the 4/15 meeting that the CWC would only share the program rules once they are approved by the CWC board.
Carl offered to post any additional comments, pertaining to the Flood Buyout Program from CWT members or agencies on the website.
a. WIG issue – nothing to report.
b. Status of:
i. Contracts – CWC, Stream Programs – No contracts signed at this time. Still within NYC process.
ii. FAD – N/R
iii. WSP – Modifications are dependent upon completion of buyout program is finalized.
c. Kurt Ossenfort proposal – still out there. Has not responded to Counsel. Needs to follow-up.
d. Outreach –
i. Michelle informed those present that there are rack cards available announcing the Month of May activities and workshops. Need RSVP to participate in some programs being held by the Greene County SWCD.
ii. Carl reported that there is no online option with WordPress to register a domain name for three years. He registered the domain name for one year only, to be renewed annually. The current cost for one year is $18.
e. Below Dams –
i. Delaware River Below Dams Initiatives – covered under Jeff Skelding’s presentation, with the exception of noting that FUDR is collaborating with Delaware County on behalf of the municipalities to apply for project and program grants in the tailwaters.
ii. Consent Order – Esopus – Aaron noted that the issues raised by FUDR are very similar to the same ones noted on the Lower Esopus in recent years. Aaron reported that on May 12 at 3 and 6 PM there will be a public scoping session at SUNY Ulster (491 Cottekill Road, Stone Ridge, NY) regarding the Draft Scope for the Modification of the CATALUM SPDES Permit Environmental Impact Statement.
f. Dues – Tony Coiro suggested it was misleading to say some towns were in arrears when, in fact, the date due for that town is not until mid-year. There was also some discussion regarding the methodology used to determine amount of dues paid by muni’s to the CWT. It was noted that John Meredith developed the criteria. It was suggested that the executive committee be updated on those criteria.
g. Meeting with NRDC – March 21st – CWT members that attended (Carl S., Bruce Dolph, Pete B., Jeff B.) the March 21, 2014 with representatives of the NRDC (Eric Goldstein, John Adams, Mark Izeman, Ramsay Adams) had mixed comments about the meeting. Some felt positive toward the discussion others, not so much. There was a general sense that some collaboration could lead to mutually beneficial results, but also a sense of caution as the differences between the two parties could be problematic. Most believed developing an ongoing dialogue was worth the effort, if for no other reason than there could be points in time where the parties could team up together for a common cause.
h. Riparian Buffer Program – DEP has released RFPs for the RBP.
i. Warrants and Financial report.
Bill Layton reported read the treasurer’s report: $1,015 in checking; $88,580.27 in savings. Ric moved to accept the report. Stephen seconded the motion. Passed unanimously.
Bill read the warrants. Linda moved to pay the warrants. Ric seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.
6. Correspondence – Email from William Harding. Draft letter from Kevin Young.
7. Other – Carl discussed the letter drafted by Kevin Young on behalf of the CWT pertaining to what seems to be an increasing tendency on the part of the City to challenge the grandfathered Non-Complying Regulated Activities (NCRAs) status of businesses (on the basis of a supposed increase in usage intensity) and of residences (on the basis of supposed vacancies of unacceptable time durations). Carl continued his discussion on the premise of his understanding of the motion at the last meeting, that once Kevin Young provided exhibits indicative of the City’s tendency toward over-zealous enforcement choices, CWT had moved to enable Carl to sign it and give Jeff Baker permission to further investigate the issues. Ric commented that his understanding of the motion was not the same as Carl’s. His recollection of the resolution was to have Kevin draft a letter (with accompanying examples of where these putative violations had occurred) for the Executive Committee to review and approve and subsequently consider a motion for Jeff Baker to take action if satisfied with the letter before Carl signed it. The board considered the need to move an additional resolution to give approval for Carl to sign the letter, but with further discussion and input from Carl on his understanding of the prior meeting’s motion, the board decided another motion would not be necessary and agreed that Carl could sign the letter.
8. Adjourn. Motion to adjourn Stephen, seconded by Linda. Passed. 8:25 PM.