2018-06-13 / News

Hancock to Build Critical Infrastructure In Floodway

Solar Energy Usage Discussed, Tire Collection Scheduled
By Lillian Browne

HANCOCK - After more than two years of being told by former Hancock Supervisor Sam Rowe that it was not permissible to build critical infrastructure in a flood way due to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rules, the Hancock Town Council has moved forward with construction of a new well and pump house - critical infrastructure - along the east branch of the Delaware River at Humble Park in East Branch, at a meeting of the council on June 5.

There were no other options available, current Hancock Supervisor Jerry Vernold said. Bill Brown of Delaware Engineering, who is tasked with supervision of the project, echoed Vernold. When quizzed regarding the about-face position concerning construction of critical infrastructure generally (the Delaware County Department of Public Works highway garage, as an example) and a well and pump house specifically, both declined comment on the highway garage’s current location in Delhi, in the flood plain. Both reiterated that there was no place in East Branch other than the flood way to build a water system. The entire East Branch hamlet community, they said, is located in the flood plain.

In contrast to their recommendations made for the build out in East Branch, Delaware Engineering advised the village of Delhi several years ago that the municipality must move their well out of the flood way. In that instance, Brown said, there were alternate locations available to build a well and pump house.

The East Branch Fire District agreed on June 5 to transfer land to the town of Hancock so the well and pump house could be built. East Branch hamlet residents have been serviced by an undependable, pieced-together water system for many years that is without sufficient flow to accommodate all users. Vernold said he anticipates that the property will be transferred from the fire district to the town, at no cost.

A grant was successfully written for phase one of the project, which includes the drilling of a new well, and the building of a new pump house at a cost of approximately $595,000. The administration fee for the grant, according to Brown, is not to exceed $15,000.

Phase two of the project, the distribution system, is capped at $750,000. If costs exceed that, it can be divided into two separate projects.

With those funds a building measuring 10 feet by 10 feet will be constructed to house the pump that sits at elevation, above a 6-inch wide well casing.

The town council approved a CBDG (Community Block Development Grant) phase two grant be submitted by the July 27 deadline. If successful, the grant will pay for the piping for water delivery to structures to be serviced by the new system.

The next step in the East Branch water project is to complete an environmental review to be followed by the formalization of an East Branch Water District.

If all goes according to plan, Vernold said, it is likely the construction on the new well and pump house will begin spring 2019.

In other business before the town, Delaware River Solar in collaboration with Cornell Cooperative Extension, gave a presentation to the town on alternative, renewable energy benefits and how a switch of the town’s four accounts would count toward the requirements of designating Hancock as a Clean Energy Community, which in turn would enable the town’s eligibility for a sizable grant.

Elsewhere in Delaware County, Meredith, Hamden and Middletown, have been designated Clean Energy communities.

A community-wide solar energy education session has tentatively been scheduled at the Hancock Town Hall on July 10 at 6:30 p.m. The date and time can be confirmed via the town’s website at or by calling the town clerk at 607- 637-3651.

In other business:

• The town will collect tires for disposal beginning July 11. A six-tire maximum is allowed, with a permit issued by the Hancock Town Clerk. Permits will only be issued to transfer station permit holders.

• There will be a bridge dedication ceremony of the Hancock

Veterans Memorial Bridge on June 21 at 10 a.m., with Assemblyman Cliff Crouch in attendance. The public is encouraged to attend.

• Council member Pat O’Brien announced that the I-86 project to convert state Highway 17 will “skip” over the Hancock area and resume again in Windsor. “It’s a slap in the face to this area, as far as I’m concerned,” O’Brien said. A follow up interview with New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesman Dave Hamburg, revealed that the Interstate 86 project in Region 9, was abandoned before the design phase, though the interstate has been constructed in other areas of the state. Hamburg was not able to provide further information about future plans for the interstate.

• The next meeting of the Hancock Town Council has been rescheduled from July 3 to July 10 at 7:30 p.m., due to the July 4 holiday.

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