Schoharie County’s no closer to either an answer or a solution to the slope failure and threat of disaster along Midddleburgh’s Line Creek.
The site is being monitored daily or almost daily by DPW, DEC, engineering consultants AECOM, the Natural Resources Conservation Service or McClaren Engineering, County Administrator Steve Wilson told supervisors in June.
Friday, he told them it’s time to send a letter to AECOM, demanding geotechnical evaluation and soil borings at the site.
“At their expense.”
“We have to understand what the problem is,” Mr. Wilson said. “It’s slowed down since spring, but it needs to be addressed. Our contention is that this is a failure of their work.”
If the slope should fail and Line Creek is blocked or the West Middleburgh Road is flooded, Mr. Wilson said, the county has the authority to step in and take action.
“If we do anything in the stream now, we will need DEC approval.”
Fulton Supervisor Phil Skowfoe was the first to ask whether Mr. Wilson thinks a letter from the county will prompt AECOM to do anything.
“Do you really think they’re going to step up to the plate?” he asked.
Maybe, Mr. Wilson said, especially in light of the ongoing litigation over streambank work.
“They can certainly push back,” he said, “but if the cost [of the evaluation] is relatively small, they may, perhaps in a way that doesn’t accept liability. This is the first step.”
“So if nothing can be done, we have to sit back and wait till something happens,” said Middleburgh Supervisor Pete Coppolo, disgusted.
“I would not take action without understanding the problem,” Mr. Wilson answered.
Schoharie Supervisor Alan Tavenner, an engineer, said any steps at stabilizing the sliding bank should be done before winter.
But Mr. Wilson said from what he was told, the real danger will be in the spring.
“It’s my understanding that stabilization could take place in the winter,” he said.
If the letter to AECOM falls on deaf ears?
Mr. Wilson said the next step could range from the county fitting the bill for the study and borings to “a variety of legal actions.”
Or, he said, DEC could order the county or AECOM to take action.
“We can’t just let it spin out,” Mr. Tavenner said; supervisors need a plan or action or a timeline.
Mr. Wilson said he planned to update them on the overall streambank project in closed executive session.