With the possibility of having to pay fines if an emergency action plan for Beaver Brook Dam is not completed, representatives from the village of Dolgeville, town of Manheim and Herkimer County met Monday evening to discuss who owns the earthen structure.
The village was put on notice by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in January that an emergency action plan — which regulations state must be prepared by a professional engineer and coordinated with local emergency managers — for the dam is not on file in Albany.
The village of Dolgeville received the notice as DEC records indicate the village is the dam’s owner.
However, Dolgeville Village Attorney Norman Mastromoro said Monday the town of Manheim is listed as the dam’s owner on the deed and Dolgeville Department of Public Works Superintendent John Houle added an operation and maintenance agreement signed by village, town and county officials in 2000 indicated all three entities would have some share in the dam after it was completed in 2002.
“The village does not want to take this undertaking on and have the DEC come back with more items to complete because they believe Dolgeville owns the dam,” Mayor Bruce Lyon said Monday. “Hopefully, we can find a way to work together and get the plan finished for everyone’s benefit.”
“The village knows it will have to pay for some portion — if not for all — of this plan. That’s not the question here. The question is who owns the dam. If it’s the town, as the deed states, then why can’t the town and village work together to get this done,” said Dolgeville Village Trustee Larry Brandow. “The people of Dolgeville are town of Manheim residents and pay town of Manheim taxes. This dam isn’t just a benefit to the village of Dolgeville. It’s a benefit to the town of Manheim, too.”
Manheim Town Supervisor John Haughton said he recently spoke with representatives from the National Resources Conservation Service who indicated the agency would provide limited assistance to the village so the emergency action plan could be completed and submitted to the state.
“Limited assistance is better than no assistance provided to the village,” he said.
Haughton added as new documents — including the operation and maintenance agreement signed in 2000 — were presented during Monday’s special meeting of the Dolgeville Village Board of Trustees his council would discuss the ownership of Beaver Brook Dam when they met last night.
“The DEC does not have town of Manheim listed as the owner. They have the village of Dolgeville listed as the owner. That’s where we stand now,” he said. “Until the council is able to review these documents — which I have never seen — the town is in no position to agree on anything.”
Page 2 of 2 - As for the county, District 10 Legislator Raymond Smith said resolutions passed by the legislature indicate the county’s involvement in the project ended when the deed was transferred in 2006.
“The county is in no position to provide assistance as to do so would set some type of precedence,” he said. “If the county were to help the village of Dolgeville and the town of Manheim then who’s to say other municipalities would not come forward and ask for the same kind of help? The county likes to remain fair in these matters and often times that means staying out of the matter all together. The county simply does not have the staff or funds to help every municipality with their projects.”
Lyon said the village stands to receive a $5,000 fine from the DEC if the plan is not submitted.
“The village does not want to be fined, but it also does not want to stand up and say it is the owner of the dam when the deed lists the town as the owner,” he said. “That’s what we are faced with.”
In other business, the village board said their future meetings would take place at the firehouse on South Helmer Avenue, beginning with the July 16 meeting. The meeting will begin at 6 p.m.