The need for filling in the “dead zones” in communication along the 73.4 mile Upper Delaware Corridor was heard loud and clear, at least at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) meeting July 5.

NARROWSBURG, NY - The need for filling in the “dead zones” in communication along the 73.4 mile Upper Delaware Corridor was heard loud and clear, at least at the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) meeting July 5th.

Discussed many times, the proposal of establishing emergency phone call boxes along NY Route 97 was raised again. Chairman Aaron Robinson, UDC”s Shohola Township representative, described the idea as a sound plan and one the National Park Service should have agreed to fund.

It all came up again when Nadia Rajsz who was back at her first UDC meeting as delegate for the Town of Lumberland, after several years off the board, questioned what the status was for addressing river valley communications. She referred to the recent storms, and the need to have adequate ways to get help. The topography still creates long stretches in some areas of “dead zones” for those trying to use cell phones.

Rajsz is also a Sullivan County legislator and former town supervisor.

The call boxes were proposed to be set up about two miles apart at a half dozen locations, Robinson said. “So you’d be able to walk to a call box within about a mile. It wasn’t received very well by the Park Service for funding,” he said.

He said that the UDC had a cost estimate of $4,000 per box, plus a monthly maintenance fee. “We did all the leg work what this thing would cost. It is rudimentary, but it does work, and it is reliable,” he said.

Rajsz commented asked who the UDC went to at the county, with the figures.

The estimate was a “worse case scenario,” Laurie Ramie, UDC Director, said.
Robinson said he would be happy to reintroduce the plan.

Asked if the NY 97 Scenic Byway group could contribute, Ramie said that it is a nonprofit organization and really didn’t have the funds.

“I find there are a lot more people than there used to be wondering why there is no cell service in the river valley,” Fred Peckham, Town of Hancock, said. “It will be a reality sooner or later. There’s too much dead zone.”

There was further discussion on expanding use of rural broadband and other technologies.

Further discussion on the topic was recommended to come under the Project Review Committee.

Robinson commented that the River Management Plan, which the UDC overseas, presents “bottom-up government.” He said that municipalities have much to gain, but they have given up a lot, specifically zoning. He said he is concerned that the UDC’s recommendations are not being taken seriously by the NPS, citing the emergency call boxes as an example.

The chairman told Rajsz, “I’m glad you brought it up, Nadia, because it is something we tried to do two years ago and it went nowhere. And now with these storms it makes it even more relevant.”

Some other items:

Carla Hahn, National Park Service, reported that on June 30, rangers came upon a group of about 22 people near the Corwin Farm, where drug activity was underway. Drugs were seized and citations issued. May 15, a tree fell on the Park Service headquarters building in Milanville. There were a dozen trees down or damaged. The office roof was damaged. Another tree fell on four vehicles in the parking area. An engineering firm inspected the Roebling Bridge. No glaring issues were seen; the full report is pending. The Delaware River Sojourn started June 15. There were over 100 participants each day. National Canoe Safety Patrol conducted 67 rescues during June. There were many issues with life jackets not being worn. The UDC planned to have booths at the Zane Grey Festival in Lackawaxen, June 14, and at the River Fest in Narrowsburg, July 22.

The UDC meets on the first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg, NY.