Supervisor Shad Alsworth: “I think we have been very good stewards of taxpayer money”
By Andrew Harris
In 2021 flash flooding on the east side of Wellsville caused massive erosion of a levee put in place years ago to protect multiple businesses and homes. The levee condition left the town with little choice but to stabilize the streambed and levee to avoid a disaster. Because of several factors, expiration of a permit protecting spawning trout being a major concern, that stabilization needed to be completed in two phases.
The first phase was completed last year after a hurried bidding process was executed. The Town took substantial criticism for hiring Root Trucking and Logging, Inc., who was the low bidder by a wide margin. Several letters to the editor were published on this site and debate among town officials was robust. Alsworth and the board stuck to the plan despite the scrutiny and the levee was stabilized and ready for phase two.
Town Supervisor Shad Alsworth is very happy to announce that phase two has been completed by KS LaForge Excavation, a well-known, Wellsville-based company. Moreover, Alsworth reports the cost of the work will be fully reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) and the NYS disaster recovery funding.
“The work is complete and the levee is properly repaired. We still need to finish some paperwork with FEMA but the project will be fully paid for with federal and state dollars.”
That wasn’t the only good news Alsworth had to report: The project was completed for less than $230,000 and due to the professional guidance from Leonard Preston of Allegany County Soil and Water(ACS&W,) the scope of the work mitigation efforts was substantially increased. Alsworth explains:
“The original proposal was to reconstruct the existing levee and provide armoring of the bank with rip-rap. Brian Smith (acting Highway Superintendent) worked thru the phase two process with FEMA, the USDA, the Town flood-plain coordinator(Rich Wenslow), and the ACS&W engineer Leonard Preston to secure funding and approvals for a lot more mitigation. This additional mitigation includes several hundred feet of bank stabilization upstream with the addition of two large rip-rap weirs as well as adding 2,000 cubic yards(about 150 dump-truck loads) of compacted material on the streambed side of the levee. This added “planting bed” was fully armored with heavy rip-rap to ensure stabilization.”
The success of the project boiled down to careful planning, research, and patience. According to Alsworth, the town of Wellsville owes Preston and the ACS&W a huge thank you. Working with Preston provided a chance to “pump the brakes,” and fully engage with engineers and experts. KS LaForge, with many years experience with floodplain repair, did the work efficiently and for a very fair price. Some of the original estimates for the work were as much as $200,000 more than the KS LaForge bid.
“Kevin (LaForge) and his crew did a great job and allowed us to significantly increase the scope of the project while minimizing the taxpayers burden. Hiring local businesses to complete the two phases of this project was important to the Town Board,” Alsworth explained.