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As of yesterday, the main contractor working on the Broadway project in Monticello – as with all contractors involved with state projects– will be not be receiving payment until the state government agrees to a budget. But though paving is expected to be completed, the landscaping part of the project has been deferred.

Broadway facing a very rough road

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — April 2, 2010 — The Broadway reconstruction project in Monticello is apparently in danger on two fronts.
Due to the lack of an on-time state budget (due yesterday) and no approvals for interim funding, the NYS Department of Transportation (DOT) told contractors that payment for work is no longer certain.
“Until such time that spending authority is provided to NYSDOT in either an enacted budget or an emergency budget bill,” Acting DOT Commissioner Stanley Gee wrote to contractors statewide on Tuesday, “payment for construction and consultant activities after March 31, 2010 is not guaranteed.”
DOT spokeswoman Jennifer Post said yesterday that only projects utilizing stimulus funds or deemed emergencies will be guaranteed state funding support.
That puts about 500 projects in jeopardy across the state, she confirmed – including the I-86 bypass in Parksville and the Broadway reconstruction in Monticello.
“Right now, we are unable to pay for any work,” Post said. “Contractors have to make the decision whether to keep working.”
Tracey Stamp, project manager for Fahs Construction – the Monticello project’s contractor – said yesterday that her bosses have yet to make that decision.
After a winter hiatus, work was restarted two weeks ago, she explained, but if state officials are unable to come up with a budget or some other funding plan within the next two or three weeks, Fahs may pull out of Monticello.
“We haven’t made an official decision,” she said, “... [but] we won’t hold out very long.
“... We’re working, starting today, basically at our own risk.”
But even if that issue is resolved, Sullivan Renaissance received word this week that the state is cutting $271,000 from the overall project – the landscaping portion set to begin after roadwork is complete.
Post confirmed yesterday that the landscaping plans have been “deferred” due to “this year’s difficult budget.”
She said DOT officials are looking at alternatives, but for now the landscaping has been taken off the two-year capital plan for the project.
That means flowers, shrubbery and mulch will be slashed, among other items. Post was unable to provide more details yesterday, save to say that a number of trees – those on private property and several more – will be replanted. A total of 151 were planned to line Broadway, but Post could not say for sure how many avoided deferment.
Renaissance officials are planning to dramatically build upon that landscaping, so they informed County Manager David Fanslau this week, who put out a plea to state and federal elected officials to intervene.
In a letter sent to those officials on Wednesday, Fanslau spoke of the hundreds of thousands of dollars the county has spent to revitalize downtown Monticello and the recent economic charrette that, like Renaissance, plans to use the Broadway project as a springboard to grow the struggling village.
“Not only will this be delayed if the Broadway reconstruction budget is cut,” he wrote, “but it will further disillusion already skeptical residents and business owners on Broadway who have been waiting for this project to move forward to completion.”
Count Village Trustee Carmen Rue among them.
“Monticello has been working toward this renovation project since 1993,” she remarked yesterday. “... To come in and rip up our main street (Broadway) like they have and then abandon us is not fair.”
Rue reiterated Fanslau’s calls for support, expanding it to urge locals to write their officials to protest any cuts to the project.
Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther’s offices confirmed yesterday that they’ve gotten that message.
Hinchey was scheduled yesterday to speak with top DOT officials, even though he’s a federal representative.
Gunther said yesterday she had already spoken with DOT leaders, who told her “they have to prioritize.”
DOT Region 9 spokesman David Hamburg, however, told the Democrat yesterday that the landscaping isn’t completely out of the picture.
“We are going to progress the final design of that, in case money becomes available from other means,” he said. “We understand the importance of this to the community.”
In the meantime, Gunther asked locals to be patient.
“I think we all have to be understanding in these difficult economic times,” she said. “Hopefully, next week we’ll go up and pass this budget.”

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