The Town of Shawangunk closed Stein Road on Jan. 29, citing structural collapse and possible failure of the road. Highway Superintendent Joseph LoCicero explained that “on the bad curve where the big rock is, the hill has washed away.”
“I can’t believe the road is still standing, to be honest with you,” said LoCicero.
Town officials thought they had fixed the problem about 10 years ago, however the seeding of the hill did not grow as expected and did not form any root structure. The hill has now washed away and LoCicero anticipates that it will only get worse.
“It has probably undermined the road about 5-7 feet already,” said LoCicero. “The guiderail is hanging on by a thread.”
The current proposal is to “jam steel plates in the ground” and then backfill that to add support, however the board also discussed possibly relocating the road.
“I do not want to keep that road closed any longer than we have to,” said LoCicero. “I’d like to fix that problem as quick as we can. My biggest fear is if it does wash back far enough and then we lose the road, you’re talking a lot of money to fix that. It’s going to be big, big dollars. I don’t want to get there. I want to fix it permanently.”
The town plans to have the road and underlying soil examined by an engineer and to consult with the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District.
Planning Board Chairman Mark Watkins approached the board about another road in the town and the offer of a 20-acre conservation easement by a property owner.
“It’s probably the first conservation easement that we have,” said Watkins, “and it’s actually to preserve a site.”
Valk explained that the site is historical with a marker already in place. He noted that Native Americans lived along the Shawangunk Kill and there is a history of battles. In 1670, the site burned.
“It is very historical and worth preserving, I believe,” said Valk. “It’s part of the reason why we have the name Shawangunk.”
The board approved the conservation easement and emphasized that the site described in the conservation easement remains private property and is not open to the public. The easement simply places a restriction as to what can be done to the site.
The board also discussed a possible change to the town’s requirement of bonds for the installation of driveway aprons. LoCicero pointed out that the town has unclaimed funds due to property owners either failing to claim the money after the work is done, or failing to install the apron. He recommended that the board instead leave it up to the highway superintendent to accept a bond or make the installation of the driveway apron a condition to obtain the applicant’s Certificate of Occupancy.