NEWFANE -- Town officials have marked another milestone in the long, ongoing recovery from Tropical Storm Irene.
Newfane's first buyout of a property severely damaged by Irene was completed Thursday as the town took title to 236 Dover Road.
While other federally-funded buyouts still are in the works, it was a significant development that came nearly 26 months after Irene's severe flooding devastated the town.
"We're making progress," Selectboard Chairman Jon Mack said. "It's a slow process."
Newfane still bears the scars from Irene and continues to repair infrastructure washed away in the Aug. 28, 2011 flood: A new Hunter Brook Bridge is nearly complete, and Lynch Bridge is due to be replaced next year.
Both spans are off Dover Road, where three of the five flood-damaged properties pegged for federal buyouts also are located.
The buyout process is lengthy and involved the cooperation of federal, state and town officials along with affected property owners. At the end of that process, the town takes ownership of a property, which must remain undeveloped.
"It is perpetually green space. We can't build on it, and we can't sell it," Mack said. "The upside is, it's protected -- it's a nice space."
The downside, he noted, is that "there is a loss of tax revenue."
The negotiated purchase price for 236 Dover Road was $90,000, officials said. Mack said there is "no cost to the town at the end of the day. It's covered fully."
Also covered is the cost of demolishing structures on a buyout property. Chris Druke, a Newfane Selectboard member who has been working on Federal Emergency Management Agency-related issues, said demolition at 236 Dover Road is expected to begin soon.
"The first stage of demolition is asbestos testing and abatement, so that may take several weeks for determination," Druke said.
"Then any abatement would be included in the demolition bid," she added. "The guidelines look for demolition to be completed in 90 days. Due to winter looming, there may be some portion of grass- and green-up that will need to be completed in spring."
Still being considered for buyouts are Irene-damaged properties at 246 and 279 Dover Road. Newfane officials also are in buyout negotiations for 28 Stratton Hill Road and 5 Hickey Road.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.