After years of regulatory back and forth with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Schoharie County is finally making headway in its proposed relocation of the Public Safety Facility from its current location within the floodplain to higher ground.
Informing Supervisors that a recent meeting was held between FEMA officials, New York State Homeland Security, and himself, Flood Recovery Coordinator Bill Cherry indicated that the federal agency may be open to moving the facility after all.
FEMA, which has rejected one appeal submitted by the county, and has yet to respond to another, has maintained that the facility should be rebuilt where it stands despite the devastating effects that Irene and Lee wrought upon the building in August, 2011.
Local, state, and federal officials have vehemently disagreed with the agency's position.
Just two weeks ago a press conference was held by Congressman Gibson Gibson, State Senator Jim Seward, Assemblyman Pete Lopez, and others in the empty remnants of the Schoharie County Jail to request FEMA listen to the demands of the county.
Mr. Cherry commented at Friday's county board meeting that, "By their own federal regulations and operating standards, FEMA must comply with local codes, laws, and floodplain regulations, and New York State has declared that repairing that critical facility in its present location would be a violation of DEC floodplain regulations."
However, Cherry did report that upon hearing the county's continued perusal of a federally approved 428 Alternative Project that would allow the county to relocate the facility on their own within a agreed-upon capped amount of funds, FEMA officials were agreeable to the idea.
Further meetings between county specialists, construction experts, and FEMA's cost estimators are slated to take place over the next week.