Schenectady County

Schenectady council approves new Ferry Street pump station

The Ferry Street pump station will be replaced, rather than renovated, the Schenectady City Council

The Ferry Street pump station will be replaced, rather than renovated, the Schenectady City Council decided Monday.

The vote was 5-1, with Councilman Vince Riggi voting no.

The city will use $3 million from the state through the New York Rising fund. That will pay for the new building, but city officials haven’t yet figured out what to do with the old building. It’s an unusually designed and well-known building in the historic Stockade neighborhood, and many residents don’t want it demolished.

Some council members said the state’s willingness to pay made them more willing to build a new pump station.

“My concern especially came from dollars and cents,” said Councilwoman Marion Porterfield, who said she was worried by how much more it would cost to build new.

“Could we as a city afford that?” she asked.

But, with the state paying the bill and the city engineer saying a new pump station would be better, she said she was willing to approve it.

Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said she was pleased the state would help protect the city’s sewage system.

The Ferry Street pump station handles 65 percent of the city’s sewage flow, she said, and was badly damaged by flooding when Tropical Storm Irene hit the area in 2011. City officials said the foundation slipped a slight amount — less than an inch — but might slip much more in a future flood. They argued that to avoid such a problem, the city needed a new building.

Perazzo said the city should prepare for bigger storms, noting that in the past hurricanes did not threaten Schenectady.

“But now they do,” she said. “The state has come through. They want to not only rebuild things that were damaged but make them better.”

But Riggi said the city should look into the issue longer. The Schenectady Heritage Foundation has agreed to fund a study by an independent engineer, he said.

“I don’t feel comfortable with this pump station being replaced,” he said. “It’s a pretty solidly built building.”

He added that state money isn’t precisely free.

“They’re all our tax dollars,” he said.

He acknowledged that it wouldn’t change city residents’ tax bills, but said the money should be spent carefully anyway.

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