Londonderry in Limbo

LONDONDERRY - Some properties targeted for acquisition by the town as a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, commonly known as FEMA, have reached a snag. The Genser properties, for example, located at the junction of Route 11 and 100, across the street and next to Williams Park, have been sitting in limbo, waiting for some decisions from the state and FEMA.

The After the Flood taskforce, a group made up of several town board members and private citizens came up with a plan for the two parcels once the buildings are torn down. Their plan includes a walk way, an entrance to the greenspace and some new plantings.

However, no movement has happened since they presented to the select board in June.

"There's been no further planning...we want to know when we can present [the plan] to public for input," Susan Crossman, chair of the planning commission said. "We would probably try to look for fall, that's the plan when to have a public meeting, so that we could align ourselves for town meeting prep."

One part of the property that is holding up any movement on the properties is a floodwall. Owned by VTRANS [Vermont Department of Transportation], they believe it does not have to be taken down, Kevin Beattie, town administrator said. FEMA says it should go. To help the select board and VTRANS make any decisions, a HEC RAS or hydrologic engineering center river analysis system, study , a flood water study needs to be done.

"The select board voted to go ahead with HEC RAS study," Beattie said. "If we do the study it might show that the wall should stay, it might show that the wall should go or it might show neither. IF it shows the wall could stay, it probably not going to change FEMA's mind. If it shows that the wall can go, VTRANS has indicated that they would change their position and they would give up the wall and the easement."

The problem this study presents has to do with funding. At the last meeting, the select board voted in favor of moving forward with the study, Beattie said, to be paid for by a community development block grant, which they believed was being offered. It turns out, that was not the case. The block grant will only cover the study if FEMA will not, he said.

"It will take about two to four weeks to put together the right application for FEMA, around throw to three months before the money and study [are received], although this might get fast tracked," he said.

Beattie estimates the cost of the study will come in around $15,000, but he said that's just his best guess, he said.

While the FEMA application could take longer and delay the project further, the select board ultimately decided to apply for FEMA funding for this study.


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