Schenectady County

Input sought on Stockade dock proposal

The fate of the proposed Stockade dock will be argued out in the City Council Chambers.

The fate of the proposed Stockade dock will be argued out in the City Council Chambers.

The council will take one vote on the issue Monday but will not take the other vote necessary to approve the project.

That gives Stockade residents several chances to persuade the council through privilege of the floor during council meetings, which are held at 7 p.m. every other Monday.

“Their final action is weeks away,” Corporation Council L. John Van Norden said. “While there is no public hearing in the process, there is a public comment period.”

Residents in the historic district adjacent to the Mohawk River have debated the dock for more than a year and have not yet reached a consensus. Zoning Officer Steve Strichman believes the proponents strongly outnumber the opponents, but both sides have become increasingly vocal.

Paul Gonsowski of Front Street is gathering support for a petition against the dock. So far, he said, six of his neighbors don’t want the dock.

“The crux of the problem is parking,” he said.

Visitors to the Onrust, a historic replica of the first European ship built in the New World, would take up the precious few spaces around Riverside Park, he said. Others would bring their kayaks and canoes to the dock, leaving their cars on the street for hours.

He said residents of other neighborhoods don’t understand how difficult it is to live in the Stockade, where the tightly packed houses leave little room for driveways and the narrow streets are lined bumper-to-bumper with cars.

“Everybody who wants this dock doesn’t live here. They don’t have to put up with the parking,” he said.

But other Stockade residents said his concerns were irrelevant.

There are plenty of parking spots available during the day, said resident Peter Rumora, also of Front Street.

Others said that most of the dock use will come from boaters traveling the river. City officials hope boaters will tie up at the dock for a brief stroll through the historic neighborhood, followed by a meal at the Stockade Inn or the Van Dyck. Those visitors wouldn’t have cars.

And if hordes of visitors descend upon the Onrust during special events, Rumora said, it won’t be a problem.

“The biggest crowd we have is the arts show. No one worries about parking,” he said. “It works.”

Many art show visitors find alternate parking outside the neighborhood and walk in. Children bused to the site from local schools would likely also walk to the park from main streets in the Stockade because it is difficult to get buses down the narrow side streets that lead to the river.

Still, Gonsowski said, there are other concerns.

“Who’s going to pick up the garbage? Who’s going to provide security? Who’s going to keep the beer parties from jumping off it? Who’s going to monitor it when kids use it as a launching point to go swimming?” he said.

Rumora wasn’t concerned.

“I think it’d be a good addition,” he said, “because it connects us with the water.”

The issue has been so divisive that the Stockade Association board decided not to vote on it. Instead, the board has scheduled a neighborhood meeting for April 22 to allow all association members to debate it publicly and vote on it themselves.

It appears that that meeting will be held after the council takes its final vote on the issue, but the council could delay its vote. The final measure is a technical one: the council must decide whether the project has any significant environmental impacts. If the council finds no serious negative impacts, the dock plans will be sent to state and federal agencies for final approval.

Those bodies are expected to approve it within two months, allowing the city to build the dock by late summer.

Categories: Schenectady County

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