By NICOLE ANTONUCCI
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- Expansion of services, creek wall restorations, and bridge replacements are among critical projects outlined in Montgomery County's New York Rising Resiliency Plan.
The finalized plan is now available on the county website and it outlines several countywide and community projects that officials plan to tackle to protect residents against future storms.
"We tried to come up with the best plan that would benefit the entire county as a whole," Office of Emergency Management Director Jeffery Smith said. "Hopefully we will get money from the state to help our communities recover and be resilient. That is what this plan is for."
The plan outlines community assets, provides a risk assessment, and outlines projects to reduce the risk. Those projects are prioritized as either critical, necessary or an enhancement.
NY Rising committee co-chairman Dustin Swanger said the committee met on a monthly basis and held several public sessions to get input from the community. With assistance from the state and a consultant in disaster mitigation, the committee drafted a project list of areas that were problematic and needed attention.
"The priorities were areas that dealt with flooding, areas that continually flood on a regular basis. There were areas where life and property were in jeopardy. They became the higher priorities," Swanger said.
Nine projects have been identified as critical, including increased access to health care during storms, bridge replacement, restoration of the Canajoharie Creek wall, consolidation of county buildings, expansion of the St. Johnsville Fire Department Dive Rescue and Recovery Unit, an engineering analysis of the Ostquago Creek bank and channel in Fort Plain, a residential relocation and assistance program, purchasing high-band frequency radios, and conducting zoning code revisions.
Four projects have been identified as necessary, such as bulkhead restoration in the village of St. Johnsville, flood protection for businesses, stormwater management system projects, and the restoration of Zimmerman Creek channel in St. Johnsville.
Five projects have been identified as enhancement projects. These include an emergency evacuation program and safe haven plan for farm animals and livestock, improvements at the Fonda Fairgrounds, water monitoring devices, and replacement of the Canajoharie town highway department garage.
For each of the projects, there is a summary of what the project would entail, the time frame and the cost. It also outlines potential funding sources.
For example, restoration of the Canajoharie Creek wall is deemed critical because it protects the village from flooding. However, due to several storms and erosion, the retaining wall has deteriorated and is putting the residents and businesses at risk. It will cost $1 million for an engineering analysis, design and construction documents to restore the wall. The anticipated time frame is a little more than a year for design development and six months for construction.
Swanger said the residential relocation and assistance program was deemed critical because it addresses the residents who are continually impacted by flooding. The project is designed to provide support to property owners and renters in a flood risk area and relocate them to safe locations in the community.
Some of the countywide projects such as the consolidation of county buildings, the high-band radios and the bridge replacements are also included in the county's capital project plan.
Smith said by putting the projects in both plans could increase the funding that is made available.
"My hope would be to get funding from one or the other or both," he said, adding that having the NY Rising plan would help the county when officials applied for grant funding.
Smith said originally the NY Rising Plan began for the village of Fort Plain and the town of Minden after last year's flooding but was expanded to include the other municipalities.
"The committee got the towns and the villages involved and wanted to give them the opportunity to put on their projects," he said. "Everyone had input."
In addition to Swanger and Smith, the committee consisted of officials from various county departments and organizations including social services, soil and water conservation, Fulmont Community Action and the Red Cross.
"They are experts or first responders so they understand where the problems are," Swanger said. "If we can mitigate the flooding, it will help the residents."