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Saranac Lake, H’town officials discuss sewer project, River Walk

September 8, 2012
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - The town of Harrietstown opened bids from contractors Friday on a sewer system upgrade in the Lake Colby area.

Plans for the roughly $350,000 project, which ties into an ongoing village sewer system project, were presented at a joint meeting of the town and village boards Wednesday evening. The two boards also discussed another project - what to do with the section of the River Walk behind the Harrietstown Town Hall when the town replaces an adjacent retaining wall.


Sewer project

Harrietstown Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig said the sewer project will increase the size of a pump station and a sewer line that serve the Lake Colby Water and Sewer District, which includes the Beechwood subdivision, other residential homes in that area and Adirondack Medical Center's facilities. The town's sewer line currently connects to a village-owned lift station located in front of the National Grid building on state Route 86, which pumps sewage back up to a village sewer line on Old Lake Colby Road, where it travels by gravity back into the village. Contractors hired by the village have been working to replace the Old Lake Colby Road sewer line in the last few weeks.

Randig said the upgrades to the town's infrastructure will allow sewage from the district to be pumped directly to the village's new sewer main on Old Lake Colby Road, essentially bypassing the lift station near National Grid. He said that will relieve some of the pressure on the village's lift station as it will only pump sewage from AMC's complex.

"We're really separating out two portions - one being the hospital, the other being the Lake Colby area," Randig said.

Village Manager John Sweeney said the village is looking to relieve the burden on its pump station to satisfy a state Department of Environmental Conservation consent order. The order was issued after the lift station malfunctioned in March 2010 and spilled about 6,000 gallons of untreated wastewater onto the village beach, some of which went into the Lake Colby. The incident was the sixth time since 2001 that the village had problems with the same pump station.

Randig said the improvements to town infrastructure will also accommodate potential growth in the Lake Colby area. He said as many as 300 to 500 homes could be built on undeveloped properties in the area.

"There's room for future expansion out there," he said. "There's approximately 597 acres in the Lake Colby Water and Sewer District itself."

The cost of the town's sewer project will be paid by users in the district, which includes roughly 110 residential customers and AMC. Randig said the amount will be roughly the same as what those customers have been paying for upgrades to their water infrastructure that took place in the late 1990s.

"The payment will not increase one iota, as far as what those people are currently paying now," he said.

The debt on the 1990s water project was paid off in March, according to town Budget Officer Mike Kilroy. He said the town will likely borrow money to do the sewer project and that the payments made by the district's customers "probably won't be more than what they're paying now for the water line."

The tax rate for the water project was 58 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value for the district's residential customers. The hospital was paying $1.07 per $1,000.

Bids on the town's sewer upgrades were opened Friday morning. Randig said the low bid came in close to the $350,000 estimate for construction costs, although the documents need to be reviewed by the town's engineering firm. The town board could award the contract at its meeting on Thursday, Randig said.

Once that happens, Randig said the project is scheduled to take about 90 days to complete.


River Walk

The town plans to replace a retaining wall behind the town hall that was undermined by flooding of the Saranac River in the spring of last year. One of the questions has been what to do with the River Walk, which is located between the river and the retaining wall.

Randig said the original plan was to remove that section of the River Walk from the river and put it on the land side of the retaining wall, but that's changed based on conversations with the village, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others.

"We don't want to remove the River Walk because we feel that if we begin construction and some catastrophic failure occurred as a result of removing it, we would have to replace it, which is going to be a greater expense to the project itself," Randig said. "The intent now is to leave the River Walk in place, construct a new retaining wall and work around the River Walk, and then protect it so we don't have any problems."

Removing the River Walk would also have created more environmental permitting issues than if it is left in place, Randig added.

The town has filed a variance application with the state Adirondack Park Agency to replace the retaining wall. A public hearing will be held on the application at a later date.

North Woods Engineering has estimated the project could cost $365,000. Randig said the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave the town "a small amount of money to do the repairs but not enough to cover the whole expense."

Town officials have talked about borrowing money to pay for the new retaining wall and a long list of upgrades to the town hall.


Contact Chris Knight at 518-891-2600 ext. 24 or



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