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Residents hear about effort to find flooding mitigation solutions

Residents hear about effort to find flooding mitigation solutions

The meeting was held on Oct. 23
Residents hear about effort to find flooding mitigation solutions
4 Washington Ave. in the Stockade is being moved from the flood in 2017.
Photographer: Marc Schultz

SCHENECTADY -- All options are on the table when it comes to making plans to reduce flooding in the Stockade Neighborhood, according to Margaret Irwin.

Irwin, principal of the River Street Planning and Development, is involved with an up-to $8.7 million effort to reduce flooding in the historic neighborhood. Others involved with the project include city officials and Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects. All attended a public meeting on Oct. 23 to inform residents about what the flood-mitigation effort would entail.

Irwin said options include the building of berms, flood walls and elevating homes.

The options will be discussed during a four-day workshop in January, which Irwin said will include three public meetings for residents to share their own thoughts. Dates had not been set for the workshop, as of this week, however.

Irwin highlighted the importance of residents' involvement.

“It gets people really involved and makes it possible for the engineer to hear from a lot of people in a short period of time, and influence how things go forward,” Irwin said. "The public will be able to actively critique ideas.”

City officials announced in October the effort to develop flood mitigation plans had received funding through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

The effort builds on design guidelines from 2017 that were funded by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The first phase, referred to as the Comprehensive Mitigation Analysis, has $1.2 million in funding. That includes looking at the current conditions of the Stockade neighborhood and making recommendations on how to prevent flooding.

Aerial drones will be used to survey the area later this month as part of the analysis, Irwin said. A letter will be sent to residents and signs will be posted letting them know when the drone survey will be conducted.

The aerial survey will let planners collect data on more than 60 homes in the 100-year floodplain, which is bounded by Front Street, the railroad, the Mohawk River and Cucumber Alley.

“This technology is much more efficient and useful, in my opinion, than a traditional survey, (and it) will translate into an excellent topographic understanding,” Irwin said.

Carol DeLaMarter, president of the Stockade Association, attended the Oct. 23 meeting. She said residents asked questions at the meeting, but not about what would happen to their own houses as a result of the mitigation project.

“Folks can’t separate the conversation from: ‘You want us to do stuff on our own houses to protect from potential flooding, but what about what’s happening on the river?’” DeLaMarter said.

Irwin said the project team will coordinate with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which announced in March that it will spend $500,000 to conduct a flooding and ice jam study for the 147-mile main channel of the Mohawk River, in an effort to pinpoint high-risk areas.

The DEC will also look at the impacts of climate change, which it said has caused more severe weather events at a more frequent rate.

The DEC's March announcement came after the breakup of a 17-mile ice jam on the Mohawk in January and February that caused flooding in parts of the Stockade.

Irwin said the project leaders will use the DEC study in its own planning efforts.

DeLaMater said some residents have already made efforts to protect their homes from flooding, including installing flood gates and moving furnaces and hot water tanks to upper floors.

She also said residents watched as a home at 4 Washington Ave. was moved 15 feet from its original location -- to a spot that is 7.5 feet higher than the 100-year floodplain.

“I don’t know that folks are willing to do that,” DeLaMarter said.

Irwin said it will be completely voluntary for residents to participate in any of the suggested mitigation solutions, all of which will be submitted to FEMA before June 2020. Then, the agency will decide whether to provide the $7.5 million for the second phase of the project, which will include the actual mitigation work.

More information about the project is available at stockaderesilience.com, or by calling the city Department of Development at 518-382-5147.

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