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Schenectady continues probe of landslide

Schenectady continues probe of landslide

City officials said they 'weren't comfortable' with removing landslide debris yet
Schenectady continues probe of landslide
The second of two homes were demolished at the dead end of Barney Street on Monday.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

City officials offered few answers following a meeting Wednesday about a Sunday landslide that sent three residents to the hospital and resulted in the demolition of two homes.

A state of emergency remains in effect.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said city engineers and emergency officials met Wednesday to get a full report from outside engineers hired to determine next steps regarding the hill above Nott Terrace.

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After the meeting, Commissioner of General Services Paul LaFond, who also oversees the Water Department, refused to comment, and all questions were referred to city Fire Chief Ray Senecal.

Mayor Gary McCarthy also did not return several calls seeking comment following the meeting.

A press release was issued at around 6 p.m., stating the city was continuing to do remediation work at the site. 

“The safety of residents in the area is our number one concern,” stated McCarthy in the press release. “We are currently waiting for geotechnical analysis of the site to be completed by the engineers as to the causes and level of safety in the immediate vicinity.”

The release also said city crews would begin to remove trees and debris, and would begin work to stabilize the slope to prevent future slides.

The press release did not state when that work would begin.

[Study: Nott Terrace area prone to mudslide]

Before Wednesday's meeting, McCarthy did say water was found in the basement of 223 Nott Terrace, which was struck by the landslide on Sunday. He said city officials were still unsure as to where the water came from.

Water had also been found Friday in the basement of 11 Barney St. — a home directly up the hill from the Nott Terrace apartment that was hit by the landslide. City officials said the flooding in that home was due to a broken water pipe.

LaFond previously said city employees discovered the leak inside the Barney Street home by tracing a patch of ice at the intersection of Lottridge Street and Nott Terrace back to the structure. They then shut off water service to the building.

The city demolished 11 Barney St. and 15 Barney St. — at a cost of $73,000 — on Monday, after both buildings were deemed unstable.

McCarthy previously said the city had budgeted for demolition work in the current budget year, but he did say the city would seek to recoup the cost from the homeowners.

Work was still being done on the site where the landslide occurred to determine the stability of the hill and to find out what caused the incident, according to Senecal.

[2016 archives: Schenectady's deadly mudslide, 20 years later]

City crews had planned to remove some of the debris from behind the 223 Nott Terrace apartment, on Wednesday, but Senecal said that work was halted because engineers wanted to wait another 24 to 48 hours.

Senecal said engineers from a firm hired by the city — he did not know the firm's name — did not give a reason as to why the work was stopped.

“They told us they would like to wait,” Senecal said. “They told us they weren’t comfortable.”

A map published in 2007 showed the ridge where the landslide occurred on Sunday is susceptible to landslides.

The map, published in the Schenectady County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan, also shows several other areas of the city, including Broadway, are susceptible to slides.

The landslide on Sunday sent three residents of 223 Nott Terrace to the hospital. A 19-year-old man was airlifted to Albany Medical Center to be treated for injuries to his chest and legs, after he was trapped by debris inside the apartment.

All three residents have since been discharged from the hospital.

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