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Essex County approves storm-related upgrades for Jay

August 3, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

ELIZABETHTOWN - The Essex County Board of Supervisors approved funds for two storm-related projects in the town of Jay at a special meeting Monday, July 30.

The board unanimously approved $97,468 for emergency upgrades to the Jay Community Center, which also doubles as a crisis shelter in AuSable Forks.

The upgrades would include kitchen improvements, a backup boiler and showers and ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The funds are provided by a grant from the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery, which total $4.5 million. Though the grant was awarded to the county, it's specifically for storm-related projects in Jay.

The other approval was for funds to remove the Rome Dam on the West Branch of the AuSable River. It will cost $2,298,000, which also comes from the GOSR grant.

"Rome Dam is a high-hazard dam," Jay Supervisor Archie Depo said. "[The state Department of Environmental Conservation] has been on us for a while now about that, so that needs to go.

The dam was built in the early 1800s to power the J&J Rogers Pulp & Paper Mill in AuSable Forks. That business shut down in the 1970s, so the dam has been a growing hazard since.

"It could let loose and create a lot of hazards downstream," Depo said. "There's a lot of sediment - 48,000 cubic yards of sediment behind it. We're under a consent order from the DEC to get it out, so we have no choice."

Depo said the removal headed by Reale Construction of Ticonderoga should start in mid-August, and once complete, the water would be down to a regular stream bed.

The town of Jay has endured many floods over the years, especially at AuSable Forks, where the AuSable River's East and West branches merge. Hurricane-turned Tropical Storm Irene in 2012 was particularly damaging, and ever since the state has funded projects designed to prevent damage from future storms.



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