Debris, silt under bridge spur talk of cleanup

Shweta Karikehalli | The Daily Star Litter and excess sediment are seen under the Susquehanna River Bridge in Sidney on Tuesday.

SIDNEY — A proposed clean-out of a portion of the Susquehanna River in Sidney wont occur until Delaware and Otsego counties and the state Department of Environmental Conservation get together to look at possibilities for cleaning it out, according to Village of Sidney officials.

A river clean-out is needed for two reasons, said Village of Sidney Grant Administrator John Redente. Currently, the presence of logs and other debris under the Susquehanna River Bridge at Main Street and Route 7 may pose a risk for people kayaking or canoeing on the river because when the water is high, people can't see these obstructions, Redente said.

In addition, extreme weather events like Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and Superstorm Sandy resulted in silt accumulation under the bridge, which caused flooding of the village and the displacement of residents. This could be prevented with a river clean-out, Redente said.

However, any work done on the Susquehanna River requires a DEC permit. Redente said that until both counties and the DEC come together, nothing can happen. Village of Sidney Mayor Andrew Matviak echoed this.

"Until we get the counties and the DEC together, there's really no time line," Matviak said.

The DEC in an email to The Daily Star said it is looking into the matter and will provide more information as it becomes available. Susan McIntyre, Delaware County Department of Public Works commissioner, said the Delaware County DPW is in active discussions with both the DEC and Otsego County regarding this issue. Otsego County officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

Sidney is also one of the communities taking part in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's New York Rising Community Reconstruction program, which was designed to provide rebuilding and resiliency assistance to communities severely damaged by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Superstorm Sandy, according to a 2014 NYRCR Sidney document. More than 400 homes and businesses in Sidney were flooded when Tropical Storm Lee hit in 2011 and Amphenol Aerospace, a key industrial anchor in the area, calculated a loss of $20 million in damage and lost revenues.

The NYRCR Sidney Planning Committee and the Village of Sidney plan to vacate neighborhoods deemed vulnerable to flood risk and transform that space into a 140-acre "GreenPlain." More than 70 buyouts were completed or pending in Sidney as of March 2014, according to the NYRCR document. Federal Emergency Management Agency in January 2017 invested $1,949,300 in federal funding for the GreenPlain project, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

The project would involve four mitigation areas designed to provide additional flood storage for both the Susquehanna River and Weir Creek, according to the NYRCR document. The areas would create a series of meandering channels that connect to larger depressed storage areas. Redente said the project should have been done years ago, but all of the houses haven't been bought out yet.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.