SCHENECTADY — A number of Stockade residents want the city to pump the brakes on plans for a new sewage station near Riverside Park, citing a lack of information and concerns over its impact on the neighborhood.
Residents will gather Tuesday night for an informational meeting. The new pump house will be built in the vicinity of the current pump house in Riverside Park, which has been pumping sewage for more than 50 years on North Ferry Street.
“My goal would be for the group (Tuesday) to come up with what questions we still have, what other information do we need and where do we get it,” said Carol DeLaMarter, Stockade Association president. “It’s a way to bring as many people together as possible and see what questions they have.”
The new pump station has been years in the making, with the City Council approving the project in September 2014. A portion of the funding, $3 million to be exact, will come from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s New York Rising program. An additional $3.25 million will be financed through city borrowing.
The city has, in recent months, held community meetings on the project with a select number of invited neighbors, DeLaMarter said.
A few residents have complained that the process has been too exclusive, leading to confusion and misinformation about where things stand with the new pump station. Others worry the new building might obstruct views of the park or river.
“People love the park, and the minute you talk about taking away parkland or taking away people’s views, it’s going to create controversy,” said Suzanne Unger, secretary of the Stockade Association. “Frankly, we in the neighborhood, we’re the ones that are going to have to live with this thing.”
Paul Lafond, the city’s director of operations, said the invite-only meetings kept things from getting too broad at the start, which could have made the feedback process more difficult. He said he hopes to attend Tuesday night’s gathering.
“We’ve done a number of meetings, so (Tuesday) is just a continuation of that,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy. “Some of that was by invitation to people more directly affected and working with leadership within the neighborhood.”
The historic pump station on Ferry Street pumps about 70 percent of the city’s sewage to the wastewater treatment plant, Lafond said. The building and its equipment sustained significant damage from flooding during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.
“The new pump station would elevate everything, so the vital equipment would be above the floodplain,” Lafond said.
The two main questions Stockade residents have posed, DeLaMarter said, are whether the city could just upgrade the current pump station, and whether a new one needs to be in Riverside Park at all.
The cost of rehabbing the current station, Lafond said, would exceed or equal the cost of a new one. In addition, the 2011 flooding caused damage to the building’s foundation, which could be worsened by further flooding.
As for the location, the collection system is already going to that area, so it makes sense to keep the new structure in the same place, Lafond said. An exact location has not been determined, but it will either be directly behind the current station or somewhere within 100 yards of that, he said.
The new station is expected to be finished by the fall of 2018, Lafond said. The structure’s design has not been finalized, as the project consultant is working to scale the building down to minimize its footprint, he said.
Once the new structure is complete, the city would look to repurpose the current pump station, possibly as a community center, though it would not be flood-proof, Lafond said.
If you go
WHAT: Stockade pump station meeting
WHERE: St. George’s at 30 N. Ferry St.
WHEN: 7 p.m.