August 31, 2011
Town stabilizes Willet Creek after flood
Project repairs banks, plants trees and grass along 2,500-foot stretch damaged in spring
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
An excavator digs at Willet Creek, repairing damage that was done during flooding in April. The town is spending about $30,000 on the project.
WILLET — Alvin “Sandy” Doty Jr. stood Tuesday morning on the banks of Willet Creek near the Rocky Acres Trailer Park and watched as a work crew continued to pile soil and rocks along the newly excavated stream bed.
The Willet town supervisor was studying the town’s summer project: stabilizing the creek’s banks along a 2,500-foot stretch on both sides of Route 41, then installing riprap and planting seed and willow trees to hold the banks together.
The creek, which carried away two buildings and three cars when it flooded in April, has had its course shifted in the 700-foot stretch next to the trailer park. Downstream, sections behind the Willet fire station and Town Hall have already been seeded and covered with hay.
They form the balance of the overall section where the creek has been stabilized.
The project, which will cost the town $30,000 to $35,000, was an example of how federal, state and local agencies can work together to solve a problem, Doty said.
“It’s a preconceived notion that the state Department of Environmental Conservation won’t let you work with streams, but you have to apply for the necessary permits,” he said, adding that the DEC, Cortland County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Army Corps of Engineers worked with the town and seven landowners along the creek to get the project going.
Originally the town planned to share the cost with the landowners, but the federal agency that was going to do it — the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture — estimated the work at $319,000 just for the stretch next to the trailer park. The town would have paid 25 percent of that or $78,000, Doty said.
“We don’t have that kind of money and neither do the landowners,” he said, “so we decided to do the work ourselves for less. We salvaged soil and gravel from the flood, which will be used by our highway department.”
He said the funds will come from surplus in Willet’s town budget.
Doty and Jared Popoli, conservation assistant for the Soil and Water Conservation District, said they hope to have help with the willow planting from the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES New Vision students in environmental science.
Popoli said the banks are about the same height as they were before: 4 feet.
The town has rented excavation equipment from Beck Equipment and is doing the work with town highway workers plus two retired workers being paid for about one month’s work: backhoe operator Lloyd White and former Suit-Kote superintendent Dick Pember.
The project began on July 26. Excavation will end next week.
The flood in April could have been far worse if the objects carried by the creek had plugged the area under the three bridges downstream and sent the creek’s waters onto Route 41 in the hamlet, Doty said. That was the cause of a devastating flood in 1935.
Behind Town Hall, a stretch of Willet Creek’s banks on both sides have been planted with hydroseed and covered with hay. The flood filled the building with water.
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