The Saranac Lake Village Board of Trustees will hire two firms to complete the official assessment of flood damage to public infrastructure earlier this spring.
During Monday night's regular meeting, the board voted unanimously to hire AES Northeast and Barton & Loguidice to assess the damage caused by high waters in late April and early May.
The village issued a request for proposals late last month in hopes of finding a firm that could estimate the cost of damages.
Village Manager John Sweeney says AES and Barton & Loguidice teamed up with their proposal and will cover assessment, as well as recommend a course of action for the village - especially as it pertains to either repairing or replacing infrastructure.
Sweeney says the village needs an engineer to do a more accurate analysis of flood damage.
"We didn't have an engineer here to establish a real dollar amount," he said. "We relied upon Franklin County's highway superintendent, John Hutchins, and his best estimate based upon what we knew at that point in time, remembering that the water levels were still at flood stage."
"We were trying to submit something to both the state Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency," Sweeney added. "They came in and did the public assessment side of it in reference to what the damages were that we estimated at that point in time."
According to Sweeney, the two firms will also assist the village in its communications with emergency management officials.
Sweeney says flooding caused about $6 million in damage to village infrastructure in and around Saranac Lake. He's particularly concerned with Hydro Point Park below the Lake Flower Dam, which he believes must be repaired before winter sets in.
Elsewhere, high waters damaged the River Walk, retaining walls above and below the dam, the wastewater treatment plant, sewer lines, and at least two bridges.
Sweeney adds that engineers have a better opportunity to assess flood damage now, because water levels have receded significantly.
"The hiring of the combination of B & L and AES, they teamed up on the submittal to do really what we thought were initially what our problems were," he said. "They're going to come back with a dollar amount."
AES and Barton & Loguidice will be paid approximately $44,000 for their work. A third firm, Bernier Carr and Associates, submitted a proposal costing about $26,000.
But village Department of Public Works Superintendent Robert Martin notes that Bernier Carr left out at least two key items from their bid - those items would cost about $20,000, Martin says, bringing their total to about $46,000.
According to Sweeney, the village will use contingency funds to pay for the engineering. But the village should be able to recoup nearly 88 percent of that cost through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"Whatever dollar amount is that we end up having to outlay in terms of damaged sewer lines, collections lines, the River Walk, Hydro Point, scouring - anything we can find that's public in nature, we'll be able to directly attribute it to FEMA," he said.
"Previously, it's been 87.5 percent in terms of funding that comes back," Sweeney added. "The village will be responsible, generally, for 12.5 percent of the total cost."
Late last week, President Barack Obama signed an order designating 21 counties in upstate New York as a federal disaster area.
That action makes federal funds available for repairing and replacing public infrastructure. Individual assistance for homeowners and businesses impacted by flooding may be available later this summer.