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Highlights from Schenectady's proposed 2018 capital projects fund

Highlights from Schenectady's proposed 2018 capital projects fund

Funding for pump station, Central Park, other projects included
Highlights from Schenectady's proposed 2018 capital projects fund
The Central Park A Diamond baseball field in June 2016.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

SCHENECTADY — A new pump station, upgrades at Central Park and additional police equipment are among the items included in the mayor's proposed 2018 capital projects fund.

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy released his 2018 budget proposal last week, which calls for a 1 percent property tax cut for residents. In addition to various budgeting alterations for individual departments, the document includes $12.4 million in proposed funding for capital projects.

All aspects of the budget, including the capital projects fund, are subject to change over the course of the next month. The City Council will hold several review sessions over the next few weeks, and a public hearing is scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. The council must adopt a final budget by Nov. 1.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s capital budget:

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North Ferry Street pump station

The capital budget calls for $2 million in funding to cover costs associated with a Department of Environmental Conservation consent order calling for upgrades to the city’s pump station.

The City Council voted in 2014 to replace the existing station on North Ferry Street near Riverside Park, which was damaged in Hurricane Irene and is not flood-proof. 

The new facility has been the subject of much debate in recent months, after Stockade residents expressed opposition to the proposed new station. Residents worried the new structure would block views of the river or disrupt Riverside Park.

The latest renderings show a reduced footprint for the new station, which is expected to be built near the existing one. Images will be available at a public hearing, which is likely to occur in the next couple weeks.

The project’s overall cost is pegged at roughly $7.5 million.

Smart cities infrastructure

The “Smart Cities” initiative has been a running theme for the last few years of McCarthy’s administration. The goal is to utilize technology to increase government efficiency and provide additional services for residents.

This year, a $1 million investment will be put toward installing new technology in the city’s street lights, McCarthy said. The city is partnering with National Grid and other companies, including Cisco, AT&T and General Electric, to install LED lights, which would save roughly $400,000 annually, he said.

In addition to the lighting, censors and other hardware would be installed that could provide real-time data on traffic, crime and weather. The information could then be used to more efficiently deploy resources for public safety or code enforcement, for example, McCarthy said.

The city in June implemented limited public Wi-Fi downtown, another aspect of the initiative.

Police equipment

A proposed budget of $571,156 for police equipment would be used to fund nine police vehicles, 110 tasers, 70 taser cameras, holsters and cartridges, and other equipment.

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Central Park upgrades

A proposed budget of $430,000 would go toward the A Diamond baseball field and the Music Haven performance area, which are in the process of a major overhaul.

Work began about a month ago on both spaces following a groundbreaking involving local officials. The state Assembly is contributing roughly $1.5 million to the projects, including funding secured by Assemblyman Phil Steck. State Sen. Jim Tedisco in September pledged another at least $50,000 toward the project.

For the city’s part, it will fund $430,000 of the improvements, according to McCarthy’s capital budget proposal.

The Music Haven lawn is being terraced to provide expanded grass seating, and roughly 400 plastic chairs are being replaced by 460 permanent, stadium-quality seats. Upgrades are scheduled to be done in time for the 2018 season.

At the A Diamond, where a once pristine field has deteriorated, planned upgrades include replacing the grass with synthetic turf, installing a removable pitching mound and putting up a new backstop and fencing.

Fire station improvements

Improvements at all four stations — Veeder Avenue, State Street, Third Avenue and Avenue A — would get $50,000 in funding.

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