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Schenectady Floats Idea To Relocate Homes In Flood-Prone Stockade

A slide from Tuesday night's presentation on the idea to relocate homes on Ingersoll Avenue to a neighboring parcel
City of Schenectady/Image capture by WAMC
A slide from Tuesday night's presentation on the idea to relocate homes on Ingersoll Avenue to a neighboring parcel

As the City of Schenectady continues to ponder ways to mitigate flooding in one riverfront neighborhood, one idea would move several homes out of the flood plain entirely. 

Schenectady’s Stockade neighborhood is the city’s oldest and is noted for its historic architecture.

But for centuries, the neighborhood has been plagued by flooding from the Mohawk River.

On Tuesday night, as part of the city’s Stockade Flood Mitigation Project, consultants walked residents through one possible solution – physically relocating 21 structures along the flood-prone Ingersoll Avenue to a nearby plot of land current home to Front Street Park.

PLACE Alliance Director of Planning and Urban Design Ian Law called the idea “Adaptive Preservation.”

“It keeps residents and first responders out of the flood zone. It eliminates the need for those residents to have emergency evacuations by first responders. No future damages to structures. And it eliminates the need to insure against future damage,” said Law.

The 21 structures would be moved to the park that is currently home to a city-owned swimming pool and a boathouse for Union College. The homes would be relocated onto concrete slabs. Law said the idea is to move the buildings but maintain their current layout.

“These structures all have two or three steps up to a front porch, all of that would be maintained. So their finished floor would sit as it currently does in its current orientation to the street, which would put their finished floor elevation up and out of the 500-year event,” said Law.

City of Schenectady Director of Planning, Zoning and Community Engagement Kristin Diotte pointed to the unusual possibility to move an entire street.

“It’s really unique to have a site that’s still in the district, that’s as close as it is to these structures, to even have the land to be able to do it,” said Diotte.

Once moved, the land that used to be Ingersoll Avenue could be included as part of a larger Riverside Park. Margaret Irwin, Owner and Principal of River Street Planning & Development, said if the city went through with the plan, there would a collaborative process on what to do with the land.

“There would be a process of planning for the larger park and that would involve the community in great detail in determining how the extra space would be used, if it was to be programmed,” said Irwin.

There are also a number of technical studies that are underway or are planned in the flood mitigation effort, including a property survey, geotechnical analysis, architectural study, interior building structural analysis, and final design feasibility.

A determination would also need to be made about the Union boathouse and possible relocation and the swimming pool in Front Street Park. There would be coordination with New York and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Diotte said eminent domain cannot be used “at all” in the process.

“Because we are using federal funds and it’s something that has to be 100 percent participatory,” said Diotte.

If all goes to plan, Schenectady hopes to see construction start in 2022 and continue in 2023.

“The disinvestment that we’ve seen in the flood plain, in the historic district will continue if something isn’t done that is comprehensive,” said Diotte. “And I believe that the team has done a great job in really evaluating and coming up with a comprehensive solution."

For more information visit:https://www.resilientstockade.com/

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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