Project oversight concerns Amsterdam official

Work on the city’s South Side to reconstruct Bridge Street and demolish the former Chalmers Knitting

Work on the city’s South Side to reconstruct Bridge Street and demolish the former Chalmers Knitting Mill is set to begin this spring, but one city official is wondering who will be overseeing those projects.

Alderman William Wills, D-4th Ward, is worried that Bridge Street could become a nightmare similar to the city’s experience with the reconstruction of Church Street in his ward. He said a lack of oversight led to increased costs and a less than ideal end result. The fire hydrants were placed in the middle of the sidewalks during the Church Street reconstruction project.

The Bridge Street reconstruction project will be similar to Church Street. The entire road will be redone and sidewalks, historic street lighting and other amenities will be installed. Bridge Street is a main road on the city’s South Side, but it is not as traveled as Church Street, which connects with Route 67 and is a shortcut for truckers and other travelers headed north from western points along the Thruway.

The architecture and engineering firm The Saratoga Associates is overseeing this project as well as the plans to demolish the former Chalmers Knitting Mill, which sits at the base of Bridge Street.

Gregg Ursprung, who is overseeing the Bridge Street and Chalmers projects for the firm, said work should begin on both fronts this spring. An alternate route has been developed for the removal of demolition debris that will enable both projects to continue simultaneously.

“We’re leaving it all up to the consultant to oversee these projects,” Wills said, “but who is overseeing the consultants.”

The city is currently without a city engineer, who would normally be in charge of overseeing large engineering projects like the reconstruction of Bridge Street and demolition of Chalmers. City Engineer Richard Phillips was suspended without pay in November. It is unclear whether he will return or if the city will do away with his position. Currently, city officials and Phillips are in negotiations over the validity of the suspension.

Meanwhile, Phillips’ work is being taken up by the city’s assistant engineer, plumbing inspector Irwin Harnish and Department of Public Works supervisor Ray Halgas.

“I just want someone to be designated to oversee the project,” Wills said. “This falls under the engineering department and we still have an engineering department as far as I know.”

City officials are scheduled to discuss this issue and receive an update on the projects from Ursprung tonight during a committee meeting at 7 p.m. The meeting will proceed a regular Common Council meeting at 7:30 p.m.

Categories: Schenectady County

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