While Ulster County executive Mike Hein is busy pouring lighter fluid on long-smoldering conflicts between New York City and its upstate watershed, Delaware County politician Jim Eisel is quick to distance himself from the feud.
Yesterday, Eisel, who chairs the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, sent a letter to New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. In it, Eisel writes that -- contrary to Hein's accusations -- the relationship between Upstate and Downstate in Delaware County's part of the watershed is relatively cozy. An excerpt:
Many of us here in the watershed have a more balanced view of the relationship and understand that while we don’t always agree we have always achieved real results by working together and keeping the discourse professional.
The elected leaders of two of the five watershed counties have now weighed in on the feud. (How about it, Greene, Schoharie and Sullivan?)
For his part, Bloomberg hasn't been eager to get involved in the mess. Today's Freeman writes that the mayor "won't commit" to visiting the upstate watershed, which Hein invited to give him a tour of.
Eisel's full letter is embedded below:
Eisel and the Delaware County Board of Supervisors have been in high-profile opposition to the NYC DEP on several issues in the last year or so -- notably, hydrofracking (Eisel and most county supervisors oppose a ban on the process in the watershed) and the city's land acquisition program (see our July 10 story for video of Eisel, among others, arguing against the need for the city to buy more land to protect the reservoirs).
But the relationship between the DEP and Delaware County has long been one of tense, but not outwardly hostile, negotiation. With 51 percent of the county inside the watershed's borders, Delaware County can't afford to walk away from the negotiating table -- as Hein, lately, has seemed willing to do.
One of the proposals currently on the table between DEP and its upstate watershed, still very much in negotiation, is a proposition -- endorsed by several counties in the wake of the massive Irene and Lee floods -- that the city set aside some money from its land acquisition program and use it for flood prevention projects.
Below is a position paper endorsed by Delaware County in November of last year, laying out the case for flood prevention as a means of protecting water quality.