Village unearths $1 million grant for dredging project

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WARWICK-The Village of Warwick will receive $1 million in state aid to help offset the cost of dredging its reservoirs nearly three years ago because of contaminated silt. Word came last week that the village's application to the New York State Oil Spill Fund was indeed approved. Mayor Michael Newhard, who found out about the fund at a teleconference run through the state comptroller's office last winter, will have the check in his hand on April 13. "This was a lot of teamwork on every level," said Newhard. "(State) Sen. (Thomas) Morahan's office worked just wonderfully with us. Senator Morahan has been so good to us in this village." Newhard said a decision was close at hand last week and was cautiously optimistic about it. He would not say an amount had been decided on. It was Town Supervisor Michael Sweeton, who congratulated Newhard and the village on getting the $1 million for the clean-up at the town's meeting last week, who first spoke of it publicly. Newhard confirmed it. Both have much to be excited about. The town is scheduled to receive more than $2 million in federal transportation funds for various highway projects, according to U.S. Rep. Sue Kelly. Dredging began in the summer 2002 as a three-month project to widen a spillway and increase the water capacity of reservoir one. During routine testing of the reservoir's silt, a contaminating petroleum product was found in that reservoir as well as reservoir 2. The village switched to its wells for water and began a clean-up that turned the $400,000 project into one that ended up costing the village more than $1.5 million. The village decided to take out bond anticipation notes for this added cost, instead of bonding the entire amount. This turned out to benefit the village. "It was a good call on the board's part," Newhard said. "I'm so glad we made the decision to BAN rather than bond. Fully bonding limits you." When a municipality bonds an amount, according to Newhard, they can't pay it back over a shorter time period. Taking out bond anticipation notes, allows a shorter payback time period, which means less interest costs to the taxpayers. Newhard spent one cold, winter night at Orange County Community College over a year ago at a teleconference run through the state comptroller's office with seven other people in a dark classroom. They watched a presentation about where to find money for municipalities. It turned out to be an eye opener. The presentation dealt with different funds, some little known, through the state. Newhard heard of the Oil Spill Fund and decided to look into it for the village's dredging project. He filed the claim, figuring he had nothing to lose. The fund covers costs of environmental clean-ups. In the case of the village, the original $400,000 cost would be paid by the village. However, the increased clean-up cost because of the contamination, could be covered by the fund. There was some back and forth with the Department of Environmental Conservation. Newhard got Morahan involved along the way to help him get the DEC to meet with the village and its engineer on the project, Tectonic Engineering. That happened in January. "You do a lot of things as a public person hoping to get that one bit of information that could help you," Newhard said. "You can't leave any stone unturned."