Supervisors release last of Route 7 $


By David Avitabile

With bids ready to come in next month, Schoharie County supervisors Friday released almost $1.7 million in funding for the Route 7 water and sewer project.
While holding their July meeting at the restaurant at Howe Caverns, supervisors agreed to put $1.67 million in a budget line to be used for the $7.8 million project which will bring water and sewer lines along Route 7 including the caverns.
Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray said the bids on the project are expected to be returned next month and construction is scheduled to begin in September and will take about a year to complete.
While there were some concerns about whether property owners have to hook up to the system, supervisors and other officials were almost universal in their praise about the project which is expected to bring new businesses and economic development along the corridor.
One such business is a new Stewart's Shop which is being planned for Shad Point by the intersection of routes 30 and 145.
"Today is a red-letter day in the county," said Dan Singletary of Jefferson.
"We've taken a step to invest in our future."
Assemblyman Pete Lopez said the issues of infrastructure have been critical and the county has "moved the ball forward."
Businesses will invest in the corridor, he said.
"There's been a lot of excitement in that corridor," he said Friday.
The project, he added, is part of a coordinated effort for economic development in the county.
"If we're not together on this, we fail," he said.
Cobleskill Supervisor Tom Murray said the town board is working on the rules for the water and sewer requirements.
He said current homeowners will not have to hook up into the new water and sewer lines but those building new homes will have to hook up.
Businesses also have to hook up into the system, though James Buzon of Middleburgh pushed for a "hardship provision" for businesses.
Mr. Murray noted that the project has not yet gone to bid so the final costs are not yet known but, "we're thinking it's going to be under (budget)."
If the costs are over-budget, Mr. Murray said, the project "is dead if we go over."
If that happens, he said his first call would be to the state.
"The county will not be asked for anything else," he said.
In addition to the $2 million from the county, state officials announced in December that the state would put $4.1 million toward the project.
Howe Caverns has committed $2 million, which will be paid over 20 years and there is also funding from Cobleskill town, the Appalachian Regional Commission and National Grid.
The county board set up a $2 million reserve account last year before the flood to help pay for the project. Just over $325,000 has already been spent on engineering fees for the work.
Some supervisors have debated since whether the $2 million should be released to help pay for flood damages but those arguments did not resurface last week.
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In other action, supervisors:
• Set a special meeting for Tuesday, August 7 to approve construction bids on the county office building and to issue requests for proposals on work to be done on the county jail.
• Heard Treasurer Bill Cherry, who is coordinating the county's flood relief efforts, say that the county may need to contact Senator Charles Schumer for support as officials fight for FEMA funding for the boarding of prisoners.
FEMA has reversed an earlier decision and now says that the $60,000 a month payments for the boarding are part of the regular operating expenses of the jail.
• Heard that the real property tax office will be moving into the former mental health offices on the third floor of the county building on July 30.
• Agreed to accept $5.3 million in funding for the stream stabilization project.
The department of public works and the planning office will be the lead agencies on the project.
• Heard planning officer director Alicia Terry say that $1.4 million in grants have gone to 78 businesses damaged by the flood.
• Heard that attendance at the Old Stone Fort is down probably because of cuts in school budgets and fewer brochures at tourist areas.
• Named new members to the county board of ethics.
• Tabled action on adding a section on the use of social media by employees of the Sheriff's office. The proposed resolution will be sent to the law enforcement committee.