TO: Batchellerville Bridge Action Committee Members
FROM: Peter VanAvery
DATE: December 30, 2009

Effective January 1, my e-mail address will be:

URGENT! The NYS Department of Transportation is continuing to revise the design of the new Batchellerville Bridge to reduce its cost and will be ready to go to bid in January. The bad news is that the request for bids can't go out until the state comes up with an additional $11 million -- its share of the $50 million project. The other $39 million already has been committed by the Federal Government.

In the next few days, it is absolutely essential that you, your family members, and friends contact the Governor (518-474-8390) and your other elected officials (listed on the BBAC's website:, and urge them to provide that additional $11 million. As Edinburg Supervisor Jean Raymond says in her column in the January 2010 Edinburg Newsletter, let's not be the second Crown Point in the Adirondacks!

When you call the Governor, you'll be asked to provide your zip code. If you are a seasonal resident and live elsewhere in the state, provide your home zip code. This will help the Governor to understand that this is a statewide -- not just a local -- issue. Also, if you do live elsewhere in the state, ask your local state legislators for their support.

The Batchellerville Bridge Replacement Project falls within the geographical boundaries of legislative districts represented by U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer (518-431-4070) and Kirsten Gillibrand (518-431-0120), Congressman Scott Murphy (518-581-8247), State Senator Hugh T. Farley (518-455-2181), and State Assemblywoman Teresa R. Sayward (518-792-4546).

Be sure to point out that closure of the bridge, one of the major gateways to the Adirondack Park, would have a major impact on the state's economy. Great Sacandaga Lake is one of the Park's gems and a major tourist destination, drawing in thousands of folks from out-of-state and Canada. It's foolish to spend millions of dollars a year on the "I Love NY" program and then place a huge obstacle in the way of tourists seeking fun in the Adirondacks.

The bridge's closure also would hammer the economies of Saratoga, Fulton, and Hamilton Counties. Locally, drivers who need to travel from the north shore to the south shore and back (and vice versa) would add 70 extra miles to their round trip. Residents of the South Shore Road would be cut off from Edinburg's emergency vehicles and forced to rely on fire trucks and ambulances from neighboring towns. Response times would take longer in emergencies where minutes saved can spell the difference between life and death.

In other news, DOT has demolished the two camps that stood in the way of the western abutment of the new bridge. Location: Lakeside Avenue, immediately south of the existing structure.

As the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District flounders into the new year, it is trying desperately to identify new sources of revenue for its Hudson River Area component. In November 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the District could no longer bill downstream hydro plants for its operating expenses (which include taxes). This shut off 82 percent of the Hudson River Area's revenues. One result: The District can't pay its 2009 school taxes and 2010 property taxes.

What's new is that the District, as a temporary solution to increasing its cash flow, is planning to assess five downstream counties (Albany, Rensselaer, Washington, Warren, and Saratoga) for flood protection provided by the Conklingville Dam. The District's staff is developing an emergency apportionment procedure in-house. The assessment will be based on the value of structures located within the area along the Hudson River that would be inundated by a 100-year flood (the maximum flow expected every 100 years on average) if the dam did not exist.

This in-house effort supplements several other proposed fixes to the District's financial crisis:

Judith Enck, the Governor's Deputy Secretary for the Environment, has left state government to accept a position at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C. She is now Regional Administrator for Region 2, which includes New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Back in May, during the final stage of the Regulating District's rule-making process, Ms. Enck was the spokeswoman for the state's last-minute attempt to overturn 79 years of practice and convert the access permit zone around Great Sacandaga Lake into a public park, open 24/7. The resulting public outcry forced the Governor to place the entire rule-making process on hold. When I learn the name of her replacement, I'll pass it along.

This month, Governor Paterson signed into law legislation to reform New York's public authorities like the Regulating District. "The people of New York deserve to know that their government is operating transparently and effectively," he said. "For too long, public authorities have operated in the dark, under little or no public scrutiny. By signing this bill into law, we are turning those lights on."

The legislation will:

The next meeting of the Hudson River-Black River Regulating District's board is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 12, 2010, at Johnstown Holiday Inn, 308 North Comrie Avenue, Johnstown, NY.

Great Sacandaga's level is at 753.5 feet above sea level, roughly a foot above target.