Local drownings, broadband discussed at UDC

By LIAM MAYO
Posted 7/7/21

NARROWSBURG, NY — “Can we do something more?”

That was the question on everyone’s mind at the July 1 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

Much of the talk …

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Local drownings, broadband discussed at UDC

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NARROWSBURG, NY — “Can we do something more?”

That was the question on everyone’s mind at the July 1 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

Much of the talk centered on the recent spike in drownings on the Upper Delaware. Four people drowned on the river in June, the first drownings since 2017, according to UDC Executive Director Laurie Ramie.

Joseph Salvatore, superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, talked about the measures the National Park Service (NPS) was taking to encourage river safety.

NPS staff were trying to ensure that people who enter the river are wearing life jackets. But they could not control whether people kept their life jackets on once they were on the water.

And while law enforcement rangers could exert some level of authority over river goers, NPS interpreters and volunteer staff had been instructed not to engage, said Salvatore. He cited an incident from 10 days earlier when a visitor assaulted a seasonal employee and said that the safety of his staff was paramount.

Salvatore said that he was also concerned about the stress levels of rangers who have had to participate in multiple recoveries of drowning victims. “It never gets easier,” he said.

Several UDC members discussed potential measures to get the word out about river safety, suggesting panels along the river publicizing the numbers of drownings, PSAs on social media and travel booking sites, and messaging that warned against drinking while boating.

But in the end, only one thing was clear: Whatever warning measures were taken, no one could entirely control what anyone else got into on the water.

“You can’t do more,” said Salvatore.

Broadband project moving forward

The other major discussion of the evening covered a lighter topic, where something could be done—and was being done.

Lorne D. Green, Sullivan County Division of Information Technology Services commissioner and chief information officer, and Michael Brooks, Sullivan County legislator, gave a presentation on ongoing plans to bring county-organized broadband coverage to Sullivan County.

The project they described would set up a wireless broadband network across the county, letting individual customers subscribe at rates at or below the market average.

Phase 1 would place broadband equipment in 10 pre-existing towers used by Sullivan County for public safety purposes, as well as on two additional towers. This phase would bring broadband to around 60 percent of the county, covering both commercial and residential users. Phase 2 would look to reach between 95 and 100 percent of the county, placing smaller broadband antennae in locations of low coverage.

The receivers would be mounted at residential locations at heights of around 25 feet; the connection would achieve speeds of between 200 and 400 mbps. While no firm date could be given, owing to ongoing discussions about funding, Green and Brooks talked of the project as a three- to five-year endeavor.

In other business

The UDC also voted on the choice of a consultant for its Long Term Development Plan.

The council put out a bid for proposals in May, seeking an independent contractor to develop a long-term fiscal sustainability plan for their activities and to update an economic analysis of the River Management Plan from 1995. Two bids were received, and the council voted to adopt the first, from Crane Associates Inc., on the recommendation of Ramie, on Crane’s willingness to undertake both projects and on the strength of the company’s past experience.

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