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Historic Catskill Bridge eyed, more formally, as a community (and waterfront) revitalizing tool

Dec 23, 2010 8:31 am
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Catskill's Black Bridge spanning the Catskill Creek."][/caption]One of the keys to Catskill's future plans has been a revitalization of its waterfront along Catskill Creek, a haven for boaters... and home to a number of historic old structures in various stages of rehabilitation in recent years. And key to that revitalization is the old span known locally as The Black Bridge, a former railroad bridge which now carries water and sewer pipes across the water and also hosted a popular walking path until deterioration forced its closure earlier this year. This morning's Daily Mail reports on how the Village of Catskill Board of Trustees got an update at its December meeting earlier this month on different ways to seek the cost of plans to repair the Black Bridge. Village Superintendent of Public Works Lewis O’Connor told board members that the village has officially publicized its Request For Proposal notice, which seeks companies to submit an outlined plan for determining what the bridge needs, as well as a cost estimate for actually creating that engineering plan if their company is selected. O’Connor added the committee that is overseeing the effort will review the RFPs when they come in, and said there is no requirement upon the part of the village to accept or select any of them, if the village so chooses. “It’s costing us no money,” he said. “If we decide we can’t afford it, then we drop it.”

Word in the community is that wishes are leaning towards an eco-friendly, artistic refurbishing of the span along the lines of what Sherburne Falls did by creating its own Bridge of Flowers in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts in recent decades, although formal plans have yet to materialize. Or money. The bridge was built in 1882 and is the last remnant of the former Catskill Mountain Railroad, one of the region's first.

O’Connor said each committee member will receive a copy of the RFPs, and if a recommendation for one is reached -- but the village determines the finances are not in place -- then it will be forwarded to Greene County Planning Department, which in turn, he said, will make its own decision of whether or not to request funding for it from the Greene County Legislature.

O’Connor indicated there is outside grant funding for developing the RFP, once selected, but that because it is a reimbursement grant, the county’s money would essentially first be needed to pay for the plan up front.

O’Connor indicated that if the county opts not to have the engineering study done, then it “dead ends.”

Village Trustee Joseph Kozloski, however, stressed the importance of determining the needs of the bridge, and solutions for them.

“But we have to know something,” Kozloski said, “because we have village sewer and water going over it.”

Kozloski said he is concerned what will happen in decades to come if the bridge’s needs are not identified and addressed now.

Village President Vincent Seeley asked whether there was any immediate or pending danger of structural failure, and O’Connor said there is not, again noting the RFP is just to get a cost estimate for getting the answers, in the form of what specific engineering results would be provided, if implemented.

O’Connor indicated the study is basically an absolute requirement for ever getting funding to actually do work on the bridge.

“To file for (grants), you need an engineering study,” he said, adding that if one is generated from the RFP process, it will meet that necessity.
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