SCHENECTADY — The latest proposal for a new sewage pump station in the Stockade shows the structure encroaching less on Riverside Park than in previous versions, part of an effort by the city to address the concerns of neighborhood residents who fear change in their historic area.
Some residents remain opposed, but Stockade Association President Carol DeLaMater said there appears to have been an effort to address residents’ concerns.
“I think folks have some concerns, but it’s more about what happens in five years, what the old building is going to look like,” she said during an informal informational meeting Thursday evening at City Hall. She said she’s concerned about the old building, which will remain where it is, deteriorating.
The city is trying to flood-proof the city’s largest sewage pumping station, which is located at the end of North Ferry Street on the edge of Riverside Park. It was damaged by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, although it continues to function.
The newest version of the plan places a new two-story pump station directly adjacent to the existing station, located almost entirely on city-owned pump station property. The new building would resemble the historic pump station architecturally, but would be taller so that electronic control systems can be placed on the second floor — above the Mohawk River floodplain.
Initial plans for a new building have been repeatedly modified to address residents’ criticisms. The latest plans incorporate neighborhood feedback from a few months ago.
From the outside, the building doesn’t look like a pump station, but a residence with high arched windows, making residents think it fits into the surrounding Stockade Historic District.The pump station is considered historic because it was built in 1913.
The new facility would be mostly contained within the fenced perimeter of the current pump station, though part of the new building would extend into the park but located underground. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in September signed a bill allowing use of up to a half-acre of parkland for the sewer station reconstruction.
The latest designs are driven largely by feedback from the State Historic Preservation Office, which has indicated the current pump station must be preserved.
Michael Miller of CHA Design Constructive Solutions said the new pump station has to be modern and built to last. “That building has lasted 100 years, and we are building new modern infrastructure that is meant to last another 100 years,” he said.
Some residents had said they would like the pump station moved away from the park along the Mohawk River entirely, and others believe there’s no need for a new building.
“I think that they’ve made the footprint smaller is more acceptable than what they had,” said resident Susan Brink. “But that is not the place. It should be inside the existing building.”
“I think you could put new pumps in the old building. It’s flooded before,” said resident Robert Lemmerman.
The existing building, however, can’t be easily flood-proofed, city officials said.
The station handles roughly 60 percent of the city’s 14 million gallons per day of wastewater, which is pumped from there to a sewer main on Front Street and then to the city’s sewage treatment plant on Anthony Street.
About half of the estimanted $7.5 million cost is expected to be covered by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s New York Rising Program, with the city paying the rest. The project is also supposed to eliminate a problem with discharges into College Creek and the Mohawk River when heavy rains overwhelm the city’s sewer and stormwater systems, Miller said.
The city is under a Dec. 1 deadline to submit final plans to the state Department of Environmental Conservation for consideration, but Miller said the city has requested a 90-day extension because of the length of the public review. “They recognize we have been through an extensive public comment process,” he said.
Changes could still be made based on public comments, though only about 20 people came to Thursday’s meeting.
Miller said the project schedule calls for construction to start in 2018 and work to take two construction seasons.
Earlier this year, dozens of Stockade residents voiced opposition to building a new structure on a higher elevation, saying it would obstruct river views for certain homes and would disrupt the natural setting of Riverside Park. In May, the Stockade Association and its roughly 180 members formally voted to oppose the project based on how it was then designed.
DeLaMater said the new plan may be put up for another membership vote, though it hasn’t been scheduled. “It would be nice to have something [on the record,] because for the members who live near there, it’s going to be a significant disruption,” she said.
Stockade resident Frank Gilmore, an architect who worked on the new building’s exterior look and landscaping, said he’s pleased. “It’s gotten to where it needs to be, and it does create an interesting urban grouping of buildings,” he said.