SCHENECTADY — City Council voted Monday to set aside a portion of Riverside Park for a new pump station, with a caveat prompted by neighborhood opposition.
The council, in a 6-1 vote, approved home rule legislation calling on the state Legislature to allow the city to alienate 0.5 acres of parkland, thereby opening it up for development. In light of residents’ concerns, however, the council pledged to limit the footprint of the new structure.
With the end of the state legislative session looming, the the home rule legislation was needed before state legislators could approve the alienation request.
The council then voted unanimously to approve a resolution stating that, without a public hearing, the council would not approve a contract or design for a new pump station whose footprint extended more than 30 feet to the west of the existing building. It also stated any of the alienated land not used for the pump station would be returned as parkland.
Council President Leesa Perazzo said the solution wasn’t perfect, but it was one with which all parties seemed comfortable.
Councilman Vince Riggi was the only one to vote against the alienation legislation, though he supported the resolution calling to limit the new building’s footprint. Riggi said answers to questions about the need for a new pump station and issues with the old one have been elusive, and he would not support moving forward with the project until he knows more or has a full engineering report.
The council in 2014 approved construction of a new pump station at the site of the current station, along North Ferry Street. The facility sustained damage in Hurricane Irene in 2011 and is not flood-proof. The station now handles close to 70 percent of the city’s sewage, and its status as a historic building means it can’t be knocked down.
The new project’s cost is pegged at roughly $7.5 million, with half the cost covered through city borrowing and the other half financed with money from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s New York Rising Program.
In recent weeks, dozens of residents have voiced opposition to a new pump station in Riverside Park, saying it would take away from river views and disrupt the nature of the park. The Stockade Association formally voted at its May meeting to oppose the project.
Carol DeLaMarter, president of the Stockade Association, said Monday’s vote played out largely as expected. Residents are still left with unanswered questions, she said, and will wait to see a rendering so they can have a better sense of the potential impact on the park.
She’s hopeful there will be an opportunity for broader feedback once a rendering is released, she said, rather than leaving it to a handful of residents who have been tapped to participate in advisory committees.
“My feeling is they should have had this conversation six months ago,” DeLaMarter said. “We aren’t the final decision makers, but this is a process that requires some public input.”