Newfane marks an Irene milestone


NEWFANE -- Hunter Brook Bridge is finally finished.

More than two years after Tropical Storm Irene's floodwaters destroyed the span off Dover Road, crews have completed a replacement span over the Rock River.

"It's a huge step," Selectboard Chairman Jon Mack said. "It's a huge piece of progress."

Irene took out both the Lynch and Hunter Brook bridges on Aug. 28, 2011.

Lynch Bridge has been a controversial topic. It serves just one property, and some officials had suggested not rebuilding the span and purchasing the affected property before voters nixed that last year.

The town has awarded a $536,886 contract for Lynch Bridge replacement, but the project has been pushed back to spring 2014. Beams for the job already have been fabricated and "will be ready to go in the spring," Selectboard member Chris Druke said.

But Hunter Brook Bridge is now complete, and crews also have removed a temporary bridge that motorists had been using since the storm's aftermath.

The project is nearly finished save for "a little cleanup that needs to be done," Mack said.

Hunter Brook was a $424,153 contract that was awarded in June to Walpole, N.H.-based Cold River Bridges.

Both bridge projects are eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency funding. But that cash does not arrive until after a project is complete.

So Newfane officials last week agreed to take out a $440,000 loan to cover expenses in the interim. In addition to bridge-project expenses, the money also will go toward distribution of a grubbings mixture meant to encourage plant growth in the Irene-damaged Dover Road corridor.

"We actually have to cut the checks for these invoices before we can submit them for reimbursement," Druke said. "So we're looking at this (loan) as a bridge between that and reimbursement."

Mack added that "this is not a long-term loan."

"We're borrowing the money in anticipation of receiving the money back from the federal government as well as the state's portion," he said. "And in some cases, that should be pretty quickly."

In other town business:

-- A much-smaller bridge project -- repairs to what's known as Bridge 38 on Baker Brook Road -- also is finished. The $33,000 project is 90-percent state-funded, with the town responsible for $3,300.

-- The Selectboard voted to proceed with renovations at the town office. That includes basement and attic work that had been recommended by a volunteer Town Office Committee.

Construction bids were higher than expected, and a previous $15,000 allocation for office renovations was no longer available, leaving about $23,550 for the work. Given those issues, office-committee members reported that the project now is about $2,700 over budget.

But the Selectboard last week decided that the work should move forward, with Mack reasoning that voters had approved more than enough funds before the financial glitch was discovered.

"It just means (the extra $2,700) will have to come out of some special allocation. But the Selectboard, I believe, has the right to do that," Mack said.

"I think the point is to follow the intent of the voters of the town," he added. "And I'm willing to work with the auditors and the treasurer to figure out how to properly do it."

-- Renovations are stalled at another town-owned building -- historic Williamsville Hall.

As the first step in a renovation/weatherization project, members of the Williamsville Hall Committee had recommended upgrading the building's outdated electrical system. There is $5,000 available for such work in the current year's budget.

But the town received just one bid for the work at an estimated cost of $11,475.

"Unfortunately, the bid is more than twice the amount that was budgeted," Mack said.

The Selectboard voted to send the bid to the Williamsville Hall Committee for further review.

Mike Faher can be reached at or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.


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