Press-Republican

February 22, 2013

Malone flood buyouts discussed

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — About 10 property owners in the flood-prone section of Lower Park Street may see their homes bought up by the government.

“We were told by the state there is a mitigation plan and that buyouts were part of the program,” Ricky Provost, director of Franklin County Emergency Services, said Thursday.

“There will be a buyout,” he said, but it could be a two-year process.

Town Supervisor Howard Maneely said he forwarded property-assessment information about the impacted parcels to Provost, who then turned it over to the State Office of Emergency Services to get the process started.

Maneely said he mentioned the possibility of a buyout to a few of the impacted homeowners, “and a lot of them said they’ve had enough, and we’ll see what’s offered to them.

“We’ll try to do what’s in the best interest of those residents.”

‘LIKE AN ISLAND’

Ron Benware said his property at 377 Lower Park St., which also serves as an adult home, was surrounded by water during the flooding, but it sustained no damage “because my property is a little higher than some of the others. It was like an island out here.”

He said he has been getting calls from others asking about possible buyouts, but he has not been contacted directly by anyone yet.

“This has been going on long enough,” he said. “Hopefully, they will buy out our homes.”

But Benware said he hopes the decision-makers take a close look at the flooded properties and not just their assessed values.

“I can’t speak for the others, but I’ve got a lot of money sunk in down here,” he said. “My assessment is not what it should be, and I hope they take that into consideration and not just go by the tax assessment.”  

WATER RECEDED

The 300 block of Lower Park has flooded nearly every year for 15 years, since a dam downstream near Titus Mountain Ski Center was removed and tons of sediment and silt was released into the Salmon River.

A 4,000-foot ice jam formed in late January, flooding Lower Park and forcing the evacuation of several homes.

The roadway has been opened to traffic less than 48 hours in the past month as flood waters, snowmelt and rain continue to bombard the area.

Maneely declared a state of emergency and extended it a few times as the poor conditions persisted.

However, he said Thursday night that the water had receded, and that the street will be reopened to traffic today.

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@presrepublican.com