By Jeanne Sager
SMALLWOOD November 26, 2004 Residents have until Dec. 6 to have their comments heard on a proposal to close an access to the Toronto Reservoir.
Long a controversy in the Town of Bethel, the proposal has now reached federal ears and the folks at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) are soliciting comment from the public on the plan.
According to FERC Spokesperson Celeste Miller, reservoir owner Mirant Bowline has requested an amendment to its approved recreation plan.
Currently the federal government requires Mirant maintain two public accesses to the reservoir one on the southern end, known as the Toronto Dam boat launch, and the other at the northern end, accessible off Moscoe Road.
When the reservoir was purchased from Orange and Rockland Utilities, the energy company inherited a ruling from the federal government issued in 1992 requiring two access sites be provided for the public.
That license was good for 30 years changes have to go through FERC.
Mirant is now asking to abandon the southern boat launch which is accessible off Town Road 62 and via private property owned by Woodstone Development.
Woodstone has pledged some of its own monies to help enhance the Moscoe Road access instead, to help make up for the loss of a boat launch.
So far, the U.S. Department of the Interior has weighed in in support of the proposed amendment.
A letter posted on FERCs Web-site from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that the support is contingent on the incorporation of Moscoe Road recreational facility plans. The service also requests Woodstone allow access to the southern site if the water level dips below 1,206 feet.
Other letters on the site including those from the Smallwood Civic Association, Sullivan County Legislature Chair Chris Cunningham and Town of Bethel Councilman Dick Crumley come out directly against the proposal.
According to Miller, letters and electronic filings on the matter are still welcome, and each will be considered.
Miller could not comment on FERCs decision-making process.
It really is dependent on the comments we get, she said, the scope of the comments we get and the number we get.
More information is available online at www.ferc.gov. First click on the Documents and Filings button, then choose e-library.
Using the General Search selection, docket number P-10482 will draw up a number of filings on the issue.
Comments, referring to project number P-10482-065, can be sent to Ms. Maglie R. Salas, secretary, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, N.E., Washington D.C. 20426. Electronic comments can be filed using instructions found on the FERC Web-site.
All comments must be received by Dec. 6.