Have your say
Send comments on the harbor plan to:
US Army Corps of Engineers
New York District, CENAN-OP-R
Upstate Regulatory Field Office
1 Buffington Street, Bldg. 10, 3rd Floor
Watervliet, NY 12189-4000
Reference Public Notice Number NAN-2013-01 078
The Army Corps of Engineers wants to know what the public thinks about a harbor that could be built next to the Mohawk River.
The public comment period, which will end Aug. 9, is the next step in the effort to get a casino in Schenectady.
The harbor would be a key component of the casino proposal for the former Alco plant on Erie Boulevard. But it requires a special permit, and the Army Corps of Engineers is closely reviewing the plan.
Developer the Galesi Group wants to carve a 51⁄2-acre harbor into the riverbank near Freemans Bridge. Around it, in a large semicircle, would be condos, apartments and townhouses.
Rivers Casino & Resort at Mohawk Harbor would be built nearby if the casino gets a license from the state this fall. Also planned for the site are two hotels, a parking garage and retail establishments. To keep the entire development from flooding, Galesi wants to excavate enough soil from the river to elevate the land by 11⁄2 to 3 feet. That would put the new construction above the height of most floods.
Overall, it’s a big change from the decaying, mostly vacant industrial buildings that sat rusting on the site for decades after Alco closed.
But would it worsen flooding for nearby residents? That’s what has some Stockade neighborhood residents worried. They have been eagerly awaiting the comment period so they can raise their concerns.
They have a tight deadline: All comments must be received by the Army Corps of Engineers by Saturday, Aug. 9. Comments received afterward — even if they were postmarked Aug. 9 — won’t be considered.
The Army Corps of Engineers will decide whether the benefits of the project outweigh foreseeable detriments, so they want to know whether the public sees values or problems with the plan. They will consider historic properties and flood hazards, among other concerns.
Along with the major changes of raising the land and carving a harbor into it, the Galesi Group also wants to add a 70-foot-long dock parallel to the riverbank. There would be many smaller docks in the harbor itself to accommodate up to 50 boats.
The Galesi Group would also build a temporary riverbank 3,400 feet long while it removes soil to raise the nearby land. The watertight temporary wall would allow digging equipment to work in dry areas, according to the work description provided by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Galesi Group also says the work will create “additional flood control capacity” in the river itself, according to the work description. The Army Corps of Engineers made it clear it was quoting the developer on that point, not making its own determination.
The issue of flood control is likely to be central to the decision on the permit. Galesi Group engineers produced a hydraulics report that indicates the project wouldn’t make floods worse. But Union College geology professor John Garver, who runs a floodwater monitoring system in the Stockade neighborhood and has studied local river flooding for decades, said the report didn’t take ice jams into account.
Ice jams are a part of most floods in the Stockade area, Garver said.
However, Galesi Group engineers said digging soil out of the river near Alco would reduce the chance of ice jams. The digging would widen the river slightly, removing a narrower “meander” in which ice could have piled up, they said.
The entire public comment notice from the Army Corps of Engineers, including detailed plans, can be viewed on the Daily Gazette website, www.dailygazette.com.