Water Street in Jamaica was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, including several homes that were completely washed away. (Zachary P.
Water Street in Jamaica was severely damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, including several homes that were completely washed away. (Zachary P. Stephens/Brattleboro Reformer)
Wednesday July 17, 2013

JAMAICA -- Four previous Water Street homeowners have been in discussions with FEMA and now the Two Rivers-Ottaquechee Regional Commission regarding the possibility of buyouts since Tropical Storm Irene ravaged their properties.

On July 24, the Selectboard will hold a special meeting to discuss an agreement that the Two Rivers-Ottaquechee Regional Commission drew up with the Windham Housing and Conservation Board.

"We haven't signed it or anything like that," said Jamaica Selectboard Chairwoman Lexa Clark. "It is just for us to review. It's time now to have a hearing on it."

The previous homeowners are the grantees on the agreement, while the town is listed as the sub-grantee. In the agreement, it states that payment is not to exceed $556,596 for the entire buyout project.

Clark told the Reformer the special meeting will be a time for the Selectboard to begin deciding whether or not to enter into the agreement.

"We'll listen to people's concerns and we'll take that into consideration along with the agreement," she said.

Using Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds that had become available in March, the previous homeowners will receive 75 percent of the value of their homes if the agreement is signed.

If the buyouts occur, the town will own the property where the homes used to be located. The Jamaica Selectboard will then decide what will be done with that land.

A park and greenspace were two options that had been discussed at earlier meetings. The board had chose not to explore the potential uses of the land until closer to an agreement.

When the Water Street property owners were notified that their applications were deemed ineligible for FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program buyouts, they were told that there would be other options available. Shortly after, the Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission presented the Selectboard and the property owners with a potential option for utilizing the CDBG-DR funds that had become available in March.

The Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission is facilitating the buyouts and a representative from the commission will be attending the special meeting, where information will be presented to the town, the previous homeowners and abutting land owners.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.