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State cuts off stream cleaning, residents frustrated

By ANNA MEILER

ILION, N.Y. (WKTV) - The state cut off stream cleaning two days ago, but frustrated residents say there's a lot left to be done.

The Lupinski's in Ilion say their work hasn't even started. It has been two months since the severe flooding of the Mohawk Valley and their part of Steele Creek hasn't been touched. There are piles of debris, causing the banks to erode.

"This should never have happened but continues to happen because we don't get the work completed the way it should be done," said Greg Lupinski. "I gave them a hypothetical, they said give us another month and we could have it done. Why not go through and finish the work now instead of spending the money again and again and again?"

Chairman of the Herkimer County Legislature, Vincent Bono, was part of a meeting with Oneida and Herkimer Counties, Region 6 D.E.C. officials and the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss how to continue clean up.

"What came out of that meeting was that what would happen is we would have a task force go out with D.E.C. officials and representatives from each municipality, look at the problem creeks and then they would prioritize which creeks would need remedial work," said Bono. "This is not going to happen overnight. This will take a little while, you know, crews have to go out, studies may have to be done, prep work, engineering, all that has to be done," said Bono.

The Lupinski's applied for an emergency permit through the Department of Conservation. They've relaxed their tight regulations on streams until September of 2014, but Vincent Bono said the Lupinski's would have to hire private contractors if they want the work done immediately.

"It's no guarantee that some of this work is going to be done, but it's a start and you know this is what we've been hollering for, for a long time."

There's also a gray area that's adding complication to the clean-up.

For homeowners with streams that run through their private property like the Lupinski's, they own the land beneath the stream, but the state owns the water. So the question is who is responsible?

"I think the state lawmakers need to address that. We've talked to our local people, our local officials, so that will be put on the table and it's a tough situation," he said.

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