JAY — The first demolitions of flood-damaged homes in Essex County’s buyout program began Wednesday.
The teardowns are starting a little more than two and a half years after the devastation caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
The home, previously owned by William and Tammy Freeborn located at 11 Randys Lane in Jay, was the first in line to be flattened as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Property Acquisition and Buyout Program managed by Essex County.
The property is located directly across the road from the East Branch of the Ausable River.
The Essex County Department of Public Works and Jay Town Highway Department are doing the work.
When the homes in the flood buyout program are cleared, the land can only be used for parks and other green space.
Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas praised those who helped with what he said was a “huge achievement,” including County Attorney Daniel Manning III, County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair and Town of Keene Supervisor William Ferebee, County Community Resources Director Mike Mascarenas and County Community Development Coordinator Lynn Donaldson.
“Many colleagues and staff on both the town and county levels all played a role in bringing this process to fruition,” Douglas said in a news release.
‘END IN SIGHT’
It’s a fully funded project, Douglas said, with FEMA paying 75 percent and New York state contributing the remaining 25 percent through a Community Development Block Grant.
Douglas said that’s a formula he and his colleagues rallied for and successfully obtained. The county was originally supposed to pay a percentage of the costs, but the state is now taking the full amount FEMA isn’t covering.
“It feels good to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, as we and the owners of these flooded parcels begin to put this long and drawn-out process behind us and begin the healing process,” he said in the release.