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THIS PROPOSED PARK area in Parksville will be partially carved from 80 acres that will be removed as part of the process of turning Route 17 into Interstate 86. Town of Rockland Engineer Wes Illing believes that the runoff from the clearing will have the potential of worsening any flooding in Livingston Manor. The proposed Interstate 86 with northbound exit ramp is at the left. Current Route 17 will be reduced to a two-lane road as seen at right.

Fear that I-86 project will worsen flooding

By Jeanne Sager
PARKSVILLE — April 4, 2008 — What the state won’t do the people of Parksville are going to try.
The chosen path of the I-86 interchange around the hamlet will require clearing of nearly 80 acres of land.
With land clearing comes the possibility of water run-off.
According to Wes Illing, engineer for the Town of Rockland, that run-off could be disastrous for the people of Livingston Manor.
He contends the run-off essentially written off by the state in its State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) statement report has the potential to increase the damaging impacts of a flooding event in the Manor.
He brought the issue to the state at a meeting in January with a plan – buy up a section of wetlands in Parksville and create a stormwater retention pond.
The response?
“They’ve basically blown us off, said it’s too late,” Illing said. “They had a bogus stormwater plan.”
A call to the state NYS Department of Transportation office of communications to confirm the state’s stance wasn’t returned.
In its SEQR, the state says its chosen alternative will put the four new expressway lanes farther away from the Little Beaver Kill “providing effective stormwater management that benefits the creek by providing additional space for natural filtration and heat.”
The report also notes “the project would not constitute a significant floodplain encroachment.”
The folks in Rockland disagree.
“I’m not an expert on flooding, but a lot of people in Livingston Manor claim the Little Beaver Kill is the culprit, not the Willowemoc,” said Rockland Supervisor Pat Casey. “When we get a big storm, it backs up and floods the hamlet.”
But he’s been hearing the same thing from the state – “don’t worry about it.”
“The SEQRA process is an important process,” Illing noted. “To blow through it . . . I just don’t think it’s reasonable.”
Reading the questions on the long form of a standard SEQRA review, Illing picked out questions he said the state ignored.
“Will proposed action affect surface or groundwater quality or quantity?” he asked. “Yes, it will affect quantity.
“Will proposed action alter drainage flow or patterns or surface water runoff? Yes, there’s a potentially large impact,” Illing continued.
He read off examples listed on the long form in relation to a project’s affect on flooding,.
“It would be a big yes,” he said.
Then he pointed to an option on the long form of the SEQR – “can impact be mitigated by project change.”
“There would be a large impact, but could it be mitigated? YES!” he said.
Rockland has been reaching out for help – a meeting was held just last week with the Army Corps of Engineers, and Casey has spoken with both County Planning Commissioner Dr. Bill Pammer and representatives of Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s office.
The folks in Parksville are undaunted.
While Rockland officials continue to shake the political trees for help, Parksville residents are moving ahead with their own plans.
Last year they formed a committee, Parksville Priorities, with a mix of business owners and residents who want to bring the hamlet back to life even as the main artery running through it is being removed by the state.
With Illing as its chair, the group has a host of plans on its slate to generate business interest in the hamlet.
And now they’ve taken on the job of helping Livingston Manor – and helping themselves.
The swath of land Illing identified for the stormwater retention pond has the makings of a perfect park, he said.
“A lot of it’s wetlands, it’s not like it’s good for building,” he explained. “But there are areas we could carve out a little soccer field for the kids, areas we could carve out a dog park.”
Parksville Priorities is in the midst of filing for its non-profit status, and they’ll begin fund-raising soon to fund the land purchase it will take to create the park and pond.
“We can build it ourselves,” Illing said.
With that attitude, the folks at Parksville Priorities are determined to keep their hamlet on the map.

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