Schenectady County

Scotia park may look pretty, but it’s still a mess from Irene

Stay out of Collins Park is the message from Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg, who says residents have bee

Stay out of Collins Park.

That’s the message from Scotia Mayor Kris Kastberg, who says residents have been asking why they cannot re-enter the area that was damaged by flooding from Hurricane Irene.

Even though it looks like the village could clean the basketball and tennis courts and people could start using the park, Kastberg said the reality is much different.

“People drive by it. The grass looks beautiful. The park looks beautiful. They want to know why they can’t get in,” he said. “The reason it’s closed is there was so much damage down there.”

Despite the pretty outward appearance, there are huge holes underneath the grass. The swelling Mohawk River deposited fertile sediment into the park, stimulating a rapid growth of a layer of thick grass, according to Kastberg. “When you step in it, you’re going down 2 inches into this muck,” he said. “We can’t even mow it.”

There are about 50 partially or completely felled trees in the park. Light poles are strewn across the fences of the Babe Ruth Little League fields, according to Kastberg. The bleachers were lifted up and the lifeguard station for the beach has been pushed up against the village’s aeration pumping station.

“It’s just a mess,” he said.

The park buildings did not have flood insurance, he said.

Also, the rollerskating and hockey rink is filled with water because the wall was breached.

The raging river washed out Beach Road. Kastberg said the town of Glenville assisted in making a temporary road so the village could drive vehicles on it and assess the damage.

He said it looks like the park will be closed for the fall.

Crews will try to remove some of the damaged trees over the winter, he said.

The river also overflowed the sewer treatment plants along the river. It backwashed into the village’s sewer pipes and undermined Washington Avenue, creating an 18-foot-deep sinkhole. The village had to hire a special contractor, according to Kastberg, because “It was deeper than our equipment could handle.”

He said he hoped the repairs would be completed within the next couple of days.

Village officials are still determining the cost of the storm damage, the mayor said. They met with FEMA representatives this week to begin the process of submitting a claim.

The park is closed because of these issues — not because of health risks. State Department of Health spokesman Peter Constantakes said the public should not be overly concerned about being exposed to sewage in flooding debris. People should use common sense, not breathe in dust and protect any open cuts, he said.

“In the past when this has happened, there hasn’t been much of an increased risk because so much is diluted in the water,” he said. “It might be a little higher than background levels after flooding, but not to a point where it should present any major health risk.”

Categories: Schenectady County

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