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Westerly sets priorities for FEMA funding

WESTERLY — Money to buy an emergency generator for Babcock Hall and to improve drainage at the Gingerella Sports Complex are among projects officials hope will gain approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The proposals will be submitted for consideration to FEMA as “alternate” projects following the Town Council’s decision not to repair damage caused by Superstorm Sandy to the pavilion and septic system at Wuskenau Town Beach. Amy Grzybowski, director of planning, code enforcement and grant administration, said FEMA allows for the submission of alternate projects in cases where towns or other public entities chose to mitigate the risk of exposure to future damage.

The council’s decision not to rebuild at Wuskenau Beach is considered such a mitigation strategy, she said.

The cost of repairs to the beach facilities was put at $302,141, of which FEMA would have paid $226,605 or 75 percent of the total. For alternate projects, FEMA pays 90 percent of the estimated federal cost share (the 75 percent).

In addition to the generator at Babcock Hall (total project cost of $63,000), where much of the School Department’s administrative computer equipment is housed, and the off-street drainage improvements at the sports complex on White Rock Road ($174,020), town department managers submitted a wish list of other projects that included funding for off-street drainage improvements at the Moore Company facility on Canal Street ($158,840), and the River Center ($100,000) on Canal Street, and a track loader and trailer for town beach maintenance ($63,000).

The Town Council assigned priorities to the projects, agreeing that the generator and work at the sports complex were most important followed by the work outside of the Moore facility, the River Center work, and the beach equipment.

Not all of the projects will be funded, as the project total exceeds the amount the town would have received for rebuilding at Wuskenau Beach, but Grzybowski asked the council for the priorities to prepare for the possibility that FEMA rejects any of the projects.

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