BARRYVILLE, NY — Planning board chairman Norm Sutherland is not impressed. He’s not impressed with the 239M review by Sullivan County that failed to identify that the Camp FIMFO project …
BARRYVILLE, NY — Planning board chairman Norm Sutherland is not impressed. He’s not impressed with the 239M review by Sullivan County that failed to identify that the Camp FIMFO project was located in the Toasperns Dam Evacuation Zone. He’s not impressed with the New York Department of Transportation’s traffic study that didn’t seem to look any further that the intersection where the former Kittatinny Campground meets Route 97, and does not take into consideration the traffic or safety of a locally identified dangerous intersection at Route 55 and Route 97, less than three miles south of the campground entrance. And he’s not impressed with the National Park Service’s delayed determination on whether the project is in substantial conformance with the River Management Plan (RMP).
“No one seems to want to be involved. These are full-time professionals with all kinds of resources. It seems like they are doing their homework the day before it is due,” he said.
The National Park Service (NPS) sees it differently. Its latest report indicates a high regard for the Town of Highland’s own homework in reviewing the proposed $40 million project.
With projects such as the redevelopment of the former Kittatinny Campground, the NPS is charged to review the project under its stewardship of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, a stewardship it undertakes in partnership with the Upper Delaware Council (UDC). The two organizations’ review ensures projects in the Upper Delaware River Valley remain in substantial conformance with the edicts of the RMP.
The UDC approved the Camp FIMFO project at a September 1 meeting, and passed it to the NPS for review the following day. The NPS originally had 45 days from that date for its review, but it pushed back that deadline, waiting for more information from the applicant. Once it received that information, it had a November 10 deadline to respond.
The NPS sent its response letter to the UDC on November 9, delaying the determination. In explaining the delay, the letter outlines that the NPS met with the town’s engineer, Ken Ellsworth of Keystone Associates, to consult on questions and comments regarding the plan submitted. “The Town of Highland is requesting substantial additional information from the applicant which may change the plans from those submitted,” acting superintendent Kara Deutsch wrote. With that, the NPS concluded, “Due to the significant potential changes in plan information, the NPS cannot presently make a final determination on substantial conformance.”
The letter states that the Town of Highland and the NPS have “similar concerns and comments” about Camp FIMFO’s current plans. Highland has requested additional information to allay its concerns, including modeling to figure out how the project changes the base flood elevation in the one percent flood plain, “septic system designs to prevent backflow into waterways when flooded,” lighting plans, and approvals from the state agencies that need to oversee the project.
The NPS said it would continue reviewing the application once Camp FIMFO responded to comments and provided the requested information to the Town of Highland engineer, with a special focus on areas that will impact the river floodplain and water quality.
As coincidence would have it, the annual Dam Emergency Action Plan for Yulan’s Toaspern Pond—the pond is commonly known as Taxpayer’s Pond—was released on October 24 by the Sulilvan County Department of Public Works. The Toaspern Pond Dam, owned by the county, is listed as a high-hazard dam. According to maps included in the 56-page report, if the earthern dam (which is on the state watch list) were to breach, a 10-foot wall of water—at a minimum—would reach Route 97 at the Camp FIMFO site in 35 minutes. High-hazard dams are categorized by its property damage potential, not on the likelihood of failure.
According to the New York State Department of Conservation, the “state environmental conservation law and regulations do not have any prohibitions regarding constructing downstream of a dam in an inundation zone but appropriate steps to ensure coordination and notification in an emergency are encouraged.”
According to planning department commissioner Freda Eisenberg, the connection with the dam emergency action plan ought to have been recognized in the county’s Municipal 239 review. “That’s why you have multiple reviews,” Eisenberg said. “But I don’t think it would have changed our review.”
The NPS delay leaves the board in a quandary, as Sutherland had been clear from the onset of the project review in April, that the board was relying on comments from the NPS before making its own determination. “We’re nowhere near approving anything,” Sutherland said upon hearing the news of the NPS delay.
The planning board will resume its recessed public hearing on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m. at the Eldred High School gymnasium. At that time, the applicant, Northgate Resorts and Sun Communities, represented by Labella Engineering, will respond to questions and the request for additional information that was posed at the recessed October 26 public hearing.
“I don’t know if we can keep the public hearing open,” Sutherland said. He also expressed consternation that no state agency has demanded an Environmental Impact Study or commented on the nearby eagle’s nest.
Once the public hearing is closed, the planning board has 62 days to determine whether it will issue a special use permit for the project, and what conditions it will impose for project approval.
“I feel let down,” Sutherland said. “We were looking for a tremendous amount of feedback.”
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I truly hope the Camp FIMFO plan does not go thru .
This is not conducive to the physical and mental health of our community .
This is detrimental to the Environment .
This should be shelved until all questions have been answered .
I hope it is not passed to the benefit of a few .
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