Progress in Prattsville 2.5 after the flood

Posted at: 02/24/2014 11:39 PM
Updated at: 02/25/2014 9:59 AM
By: Dan Levy

PRATTSVILLE - On a night that marks the halfway point of a five-year plan to rebuild -- and reinvent -- Prattsville, N.Y., the tiny Greene County community that was nearly wiped off the map by Tropical Storm Irene flood waters in the summer of 2011, showed encouraging progress on the road to recovery, some residents said.

For the past 2.5 years, they've been rebuilding dreams and developing strategies that will ultimately transform Prattsville into a place that few people even could have imaged before the nightmare of August 2011.

"It was devastating," said Heidi Ruehlmann, a Prattsville resident. "It was so bad we thought this town was done."

On Monday night, the people and business owners of Prattsville heard a progress report and at the same time got to see what their community might look like in the future -- with new streetscapes, bridges, parks, an industrial park, a residential living center for seniors, a community center, and a health care facility for multi-generations.

"It's just not pie in the sky," insisted Kevin Piccoli, co-chair of the New York Rising Committee. "This now is something that's starting to take shape. We're building that foundation for the future."

Those in attendance seemed to like what they were seeing and hearing.

"It's not just talk now," said Jim Young, a longtime Prattsville resident. "It's on paper. There's a push to have these, what I thought would be dreams, be reality."

But if there's something that's tempering the enthusiasm, it would have to be concerns about where the money is coming from to pay for it all.

"I think that it'll be scaled down," Ruehlmann predicted. "We won't get it all. We will get some of it. That's great considering what we've been through."

"We now have real actionable projects that we're starting to see happen and that's probably the most exciting thing that we've got," Piccoli said.

"We're kind of going big or going home," said Kristin Tomplkins, a member of the long term recovery council. "We have to try to get everything we can get for these people because these people don't give up on us so we can't give up on them."

The final plan, due March 31, could impact 28,000 people who live in a 20-mile radius around Prattsville.

Committee members and planners are hoping state and federal grants will go a long way toward paying for everything.