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Blenheim Bridge Dispute Re-Ignites at County Board Meeting

Written By Editor on 1/27/14 | 1/27/14

Following recent sparring between Blenheim residents and Treasurer Bill Cherry over the county's efforts to rebuild or replace the Blenheim Covered Bridge that was reported by local media in December, both sides escalated their feud into a public argument Friday morning at the County Board of Supervisors January meeting. 

Gail Shaffer, who previously served as New York Secretary of State under former Governor Mario Cuomo and is currently a member of the Blenheim Long Term Recovery Committee, questioned Mr. Cherry's role in the process as Flood Recovery Coordinator by accusing him of bias against the small town. She would later also claim that FEMA has rebuilt every other covered bridge in the region, except for Blenheim's.

Mr. Cherry, clearly exasperated by Ms. Shaffer's comments, defended his actions with respect to the Blenheim Covered Bridge but in the heat of argument offered that if, "someone else wants to handle the bridge project, go ahead." He would go on to explain that the federal agency's decision was weighed solely on the fact that Blenheim's bridge did not cross the length of the creek nor was it used for travel, while the others were. 

After taking time to let the argument settle, Mr. Cherry would later present word to the assembled supervisors that FEMA has agreed to pay for the Blenheim project's architectural and engineering design costs. That approval allows Schoharie County to draw up reconstruction blueprints of the bridge and for Mr. Cherry to submit them to the necessary regulatory agencies, which would have been impossible beforehand.

Although good news was reported at Friday's board meeting concerning the Blenheim Bridge project, strife and mistrust still exist between Schoharie County's smallest town and the county's flood recovery coordinator, a situation that continues to complicate progress made toward restoring or restructuring the valley community's most cherished possession. 
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Norie61 said...

I think the Former Secretary is spot on with her mistrust of Mr.Cherry.It seems southern Schoharie Co. is lacking in assistance. Where is the $$$ for the Stryker Road or Flat Creek Roads projects that was severely damaged in the flooding? It was my understanding the County has had the Fema $$$ for a year!

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