Executive Board Meeting – Sept 15, 2014

Present: Stephen Walker, Michael McCrary, Carl Stuendel, Bruce Dolph, Peter Bracci, Linda Burkhardt, Tony VanGlad and Counsel Jeff Baker.
Others present: Marge Miller: Middletown Supervisor, Aaron Bennett, Jeff Flack, Dean Frazier.

1. Call to order: 6:15 PM

2. Minutes: July 21, 2014 – Moved to approve, Linda Burkhardt, second by Pete Bracci. Approved.

3. Privilege of the floor:
a. Marge Miller inquired about maintenance on city properties in villages and towns. Margaretville maintains City parcels in the village. Her board wanted to know about City owned property outside the village of Margaretville, for example, in Clovesville or along main thoroughfares. She inquired, has this been an issue that CWT has addressed or other individual towns have brought forward? The contract between the Town and DEP does not require an MOU between the town and DEP, but DEP would be more comfortable if one existed. Apparently, they sent a sample MOU for the town’s consideration for the purpose of clarity that Middletown would be doing the maintenance. In the absence of an MOU, the contract would go forward regardless. The City will not maintain those properties, but if the Town wants to they can. In response to Marge’s question Bruce indicated that in Walton there are a small number of parcels in the town, that are vacant fields, so the Town doesn’t maintain them. She indicated that although it would not be a lot of money for the Town to maintain them, her board wanted to inquire if they could get some compensation for maintaining them. Counsel stated that in this round of buyouts the towns agreed to maintain these properties. If they do not, then it falls upon the City to maintain them if they choose to do so. If the City doesn’t, the town may have cause to take action under certain circumstances. Middletown may pursue a discussion with the DEP on these properties with the idea they are recreational access points and should be kept maintained. Issue of liability arose. Counsel noted there really are no liabilities associated with these properties by local municipalities or the City.
b. Carl noted that the Lower Esopus Group has formed a coalition. Town of Olive is not interested. Carl noted he attended one of their meetings. They did inquire about hiring Jeff Baker to assist them. Carl wanted to bring this to the attention of the board indicating the board should think about the implication of that should they request Jeff’s services. Jeff has not had any more inquiries from the group.

4. CWT Membership Dues Reminder – Carl noted the status of dues paid by various members. He encouraged members to reach out to the municipalities that have not paid to inform them of what the CWT does do and has been successful at as the negotiating arm of the Towns west of Hudson and ask them to pay their dues. Sink or swim together. Tony inquired about whether there would be any changes in next year’s dues amount. Carl indicated there are none for 2015. Mike McCrary noted this report was the same as months ago. Correct: CWT has not received any more dues payments. Mike inquired why Ulster County has not paid? Aaron responded that the question has been asked, what are we (Ulster) getting? Counsel indicated that none of the Counties have a seat at the table. Mike also suggested a generic letter be sent out explaining what CWT does do. Mike suggested sending out to all CWT members a document that outlines what the CWT does, such as negotiating on behalf of the watershed for the WSP, FAD and pressing for the flood mitigation program. Carl may draft a letter for circulation. The difference in the roles of the CWT and CWC should be clarified in the letter. Mike said that without the advocacy of the CWT, the CWC would not have become a reality and remained as such. Aaron: do all the Counties pay the same? Yes, $1,500 per year. Aaron will investigate to see if he can determine the reservations of Ulster County.

5. Updates:
a. Status of Flood Mitigation Program:
i. Contracts – CWC, Stream Programs – All signed and in the pipeline, per Mr. Baker.
ii. Water Supply Permit Change – DEC wants municipalities to have to “Opt-Out” not “Opt-In”, as the City and municipalities approve of. Coming late to the game. Last week learned of state’s reluctance to endorse the wording change put forward by the City’s Hilary Meltzer and CWT’s Jeff Baker. CWT will not support the “In unless you opt out”.   Opt-out makes a travesty of the notions of home rule and local control, as it takes voluntary buy-in out of the hands of municipalities. CWT directed Jeff to keep pushing on the CWT position. State concerned the muni’s won’t opt -in. The state also doesn’t like that there is someone (muni’s) in between the landowner and the sale. Jeff will also try to ferret-out whether the State is being influenced by outside pressure, and if so, to discover the identity of these NGOs and agencies.
iii. Relocation Working Group Meeting 3 (and related CWC Program Rules). It was reported that the City is willing to pursue a relocation purchase prior to the contract between the City and CWC being completed if the necessary elements of an LFA are complete. This was in reference to the idea of doing some pilots to learn from. The question of issues regarding inundation during the meeting did not get resolved. There was urgency on the part of some counties regarding houses that are hanging off a ledge where the home is about to fall into a stream. They would like to move on that. The money for the relocation process is not going to cover the total cost of the process. For example, money for a new building is not covered under the program. The City would purchase improvements and the land and provide for the items like flood plain recovery and perhaps some infrastructure. Jeff Flack also supports the idea of pilots so we can learn what parts of the process will need adjustments.
iv. Keven Young’s Regulation Position Paper (buyout and relocation) – still in the works.

b. Kurt Ossenfort Proposal Jeff has a draft contract prepared that should go out soon.

c. Watershed Inspector General – Windham – Stephen reported nothing new at this time. Jeff Baker reported that Dan Ruzzo had informed him that things appear to be smoothing out and to hold back. Jeff will check with Dan again.

d. Septage Hauling: Carl reported on his discussion with Dave Warne. Dave indicated that nothing has changed over the past year. Dave will call Grahamsville to get more information and report back to Carl. Grand Gorge does accept septage. Mike McCrary spoke regarding the issue/concerns that deter the plants in Windham and Tannersville from accepting septage. From Mike’s discussion with a DEP employee he believes the individual plants are being de-incentivized to not take too much as it might affect their permits. DEP is paying over $1,000 a pump out to send this elsewhere. Mike reported he did not understand this. Frazier suggested perhaps City is paying for sludge transportation like they do in Delaware County, for the cost of sludge produced resulting from tertiary treatment. He has been told that the DEP is restricting acceptance to one load per day at Grand Gorge. Hudson is making money on septage. Perhaps they have a holding tank. Carl will continue to investigate and report to Mike anything he learns.

e. Below Dams Activities:
i. Delaware – Conference UDRTC on Sept 12. Three panels covering the impact of the fishery and recreation on the local economy, local government concerns and stream corridor management. Focus was on fishery, flooding, sediment transport, tributaries, releases, infrastructure and stream nexus, and the need for a stream corridor plan and partnerships. Congressman Gibson gave a good presentation.
Mark Klotz from DEC has offered to meet with the UDRTC. Bruce felt everyone was going in the same direction. Marge felt the partnering was the key issue and recognizing that the City has an asset and locally we have assets that should work together.
ii. Esopus – Nothing to report as new. Ulster County submitted substantial technical comments on the ongoing consent order.
iii. Schoharie – construction is pretty much wrapped up. Next step is for bids for the lower level output. Have to build a machine to do the work. $200 to 300 million to build it. Gilboa Dam construction is two years ahead of schedule. DEC is planning a conservation release for the fishery from Schoharie but Tony indicated that use of that water by the power authority warms up the water before it goes very far down stream. Questions remain about why the water from the Schoharie remains muddy with no rain. Aaron said they believe the water is remaining turbid because of a seiche (an ongoing wave effect in a body of water) that causes sediment to be in suspension.

6. Warrants:
Moved to pay vouchers Tony
$5,460.00 (Young Sommer)
$3,316.10 to Delaware County WSA
second by Linda Burkhardt. Passed.
Savings balance $ 93,973.63
Checking balance $1,000.18

7. Correspondence: None reported.

8. Other:
a. Pete wanted to know the status of hydro-electric projects on the Watershed dams. Would like more information and believes the CWT should monitor this to see what kind of benefits we may be able to get. Carl suggested that Pete get more information.

b. Land Acquisition – Frazier provided data showing how Watershed Affairs tracks land acquisition through a monthly update. Maintaining a data base back to 1997. In Greene County it just goes to the towns. Counsel would like to see this on an annual basis. Aaron reported that Ulster County reviews what the City provides to them. It is user friendly.

c. Carl suggested that the CWT and CWC should have regular communication. He will continue to work on that and, in addition, again reach-out to Environmental Groups.

9. Adjourn: 7:50 PM. Tony moved to adjourn; second Linda Burkhardt- passed.