Lysander to challenge DEC decision

The Town of Lysander plans to challenge a decision by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that classified an embankment near Willett's Pond in Radisson as a medium-hazard Class B dam, Supervisor Barry Bullis said at the Town Board's most recent meeting on July 26.

"It's actually a roadway enhancement for the end of Willett Parkway that the DEC has reclassified," Bullis said. "That embankment has been there 35-plus years. The culvert that goes underneath it handles the water quite effectively."

The town will contend that the embankment should be classified as a low-hazard, or Class A dam. The DEC requires fewer engineering studies and assessments for low-hazard dams, which have less potential to cause economic and environmental damage.

The culvert allows drainage that eventually flows into the Seneca River and has never caused significant damage in the past, Bullis said.

"We've had pretty significant rain events in 40 years, and I don't think the water has ever been halfway up," Bullis said. "It's not that deep. You can walk across it."

The Lysander Town Board approved a measure July 26 authorizing the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice to complete an inspection and maintenance plan for the dam. The town will appeal the DEC classification once that plan is complete, Bullis said.

"One of the things we're going to do in the process of preparing the plan is raise the point and challenge the fact that it's classified as a dam," he said. "What we need is a quick report and a case by the engineer and we'll challenge."

The inspection and maintenance plan could cost up to $3,000. However, it would be required regardless of whether Lysander wins its planned appeal. The DEC requires inspection and maintenance plans for both medium- and low-hazard dams, according to Matthew Fuller, an engineer at Barton & Loguidice.

Lysander will not have to submit two other engineering documents if the dam is reclassified, Bullis said. They are an emergency action plan, due August 19, 2011, and an engineering assessment, due August 19, 2015.

"I think somebody looked at a map and said, 'Oh, it's a dam,'" Bullis said. "Now we have to develop an inspection program, an evacuation program?"

The DEC sent a letter in January informing the town about new dam safety regulations requiring the engineering plans, Bullis said. Later that month Lysander submitted an annual certification to begin to comply with those regulations, he said.

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