Aaron Robinson, Upper Delaware Council (UDC)'s representative from Shohola Township, reflected on his last full council meeting as chairman, December 6, on the progress the UDC has made and the prospects if full, promised funding was ever made.

NARROWSBURG, NY - Aaron Robinson, Upper Delaware Council (UDC)’s representative from Shohola Township, reflected on his last full council meeting as chairman, December 6, on the progress the UDC has made and the prospects if full, promised funding was ever made.

“This year was a year of non-stop challenges… the funding crisis, the loss of a staff member… We were concurrently under the stress of an unexpected federal audit. Issues were brought up about how to improve our working relationship with our partners, and more important, how we can better serve our member municipalities…”

In the interest of improved efficiency and effectiveness, Robinson recommended forming an Executive Advisory Committee, to ensure the continuity of issues from year to year; to help prioritize topics; to act as a think-tank to discuss difficult problems; to provide a forum to discuss important topics and a place to overview strategies before taking them before the full Council.

He suggested that the committee could be comprised of the current chair, the three other committee chairs, the prior-year council chair and work closely with the executive director.

If state funding came through and given federal funding, Robinson said that more could be done to assist member townships and towns, including providing grants for emergency medical services.

He highly lauded the staff in place, Executive Director Laurie Ramie, Resource Specialist Pete Golod, and Secretary Ashley Hall-Bagdonas.

“I think we’re closing the year in a better place than we began the year,” Robinson stated. “…I learned that we have a common goal in preserving this majestic river of the Upper Delaware, and although we may differ in approach, we seek to maintain this goal without compromise.”

Budget status

In her report, Ramie reported that the third draft of their budget went to the National Park Service regional office in Philadelphia, November 3. “The good news that I have to report,” she said, the latest funding request has been signed off.” The UDC was waiting to hear when the share of funds would be transferred, totaling $55,890.

The UDC is a formal partnership of local, state, and federal governments and agencies, with the common mission to manage the Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River. The Council membership operates under a long-term cooperative agreement with the National Park Service.

Since the UDC was established under Congressional mandate in 1988, funding has been authorized at $300,000 annually through the Park Service. The states of New York and Pennsylvania are also committed to each allocating $200,000 a year, but to date, neither state has met its obligation, according to the UDC.

Since October 1, 2018, the beginning of the federal fiscal year, the UDC has expended to over $31,700 through the end of November. Ramie said they will be able to seek reimbursement once the federal funds are deposited. Ideally, once the federal government’s next Continuing Resolution comes into affect December 21, she said the hope is the balance of the $300,000 can be awarded.

Superintendent Kris Heister, National Park Service, said that the current Continuing Resolution is on the President’s desk, which will take the federal government through December 21. “We feel confident that he will sign it,” Heister said.

The winter of 2018 was particularly perilous for the UDC, as they waited for long-delayed federal funding. Preparations were being made in the event that the UDC would have to close down its offices, but funding was made at the 11th Hour.

[More meeting items are found in the Wednesday, Dec. 26 print edition.]

The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg,  NY. The office may be reached at 845-252-3022.