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Will States Pay
Their Fare Share?

By Jeanne Sager
NARROWSBURG — November 18, 2005 – The Upper Delaware Council is tired of waiting.
Seventeen years after the River Management Plan for the federally-designated Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River created the council to represent the river towns and townships of New York and Pennsylvania, the UDC is asking for the money those states promised to kick in to keep things running.
The original concept, created in 1988, called for a $500,000 annual operating budget – 60 percent would be federal monies and another 40 percent would be state monies, split between New York and Pennsylvania.
“The federal government, through the National Park Service, put that into their budget,” said UDC Executive Director Bill Douglass.
But the states never ponied up, at least “not directly, like it was intended,” Douglass said.
There have been grants, and a pot of money was set up with the help of late Assemblyman Jake Gunther and State Senator John Bonacic to be spread among the New York towns represented by the council.
But that’s it, Douglass said.
The $100,000 promised by each state has never come through.
In 17 years, the UDC budget has remained an annual $300,000 in federal funds.
“In the beginning, it wasn’t too bad,” Douglass said, “but as time goes on, as everyone knows, things go up.
“We’re just like a business – as with any business, your costs go up every year, and we don’t have a way of making money,” he explained.
The group does invest some of its funds, but the yield is minimal.
And currently, at least $25,000 a year is dedicated to providing technical assistance grants (TAG) to the communities that the UDC serves.
“It’s been a great program, we’ve given out well over $500,000,” Douglass said.
But they may have to end it.
If more money can’t be found, the UDC won’t be able to continue its current services.
“If we have to make cuts, where do we make cuts?” Douglass asked. “Is it personnel, is it TAG?”
That’s where the UDC is hoping the local towns and townships will come in.
The UDC has asked each member municipality to pass a resolution or write a letter pledging support for the council and asking for financial help from the state.
“When you step back, the Upper Delaware Council really is the towns and townships,” Douglass said. “In a nutshell, we represent the towns and townships along the river . . . what we’re here for is to help the National Park Service preserve the natural resources of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, but we’re kind of the local focus along that way.”
They’re looking for help from the towns of Hancock, Fremont, Delaware, Cochecton, Tusten, Highland, Lumberland and Deerpark in New York and the townships of Lackawaxen, Shohola and Westfall in Pennsylvania.
So far, resolutions have come in from Lumberland, Delaware and Hancock.
They’ll be passed along to the state representatives on both sides of the river, Douglass said.
Then it’s just a matter of crossing fingers and hoping for the best.
“We would hope if they ask for $100,000 or whatever they ask for, it would be an annual appropriation,” he noted.

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