FEMA funds will go to stabilize slope

Schenectady County officials announced this week that they will use a $1.5 million federal grant to stabilize a steep embankment above Broadway in the city of Schenectady.

The slope has been in need of repair for several years. In 2004, two homes at the top of the hill had to be demolished after their stability was threatened by slope failure.

According Joe Ryan, Schenectady County's director of public works, the slope has been deemed geologically somewhat unstable due to very wet soil conditions, especially in the winter months.

The funds for the embankment's repair come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is part of the Department of Homeland Security.

The county's top economic developer, Ray Gillen said that in order to qualify for the grant, several county offices worked together for more than two years to develop a Hazard Mitigation Plan.

County officials said the purpose of the plan was to assess the degree of vulnerability to natural and manmade hazards across the county and to develop a course of action to combat those hazards.

The county prepared three-day survival kits, developed evacuation and shelter plans and recognized necessary construction projects, like the slope stabilization project.

The hazard mitigation plan was accepted by FEMA last fall and has been adopted by six of the county's nine municipalities. All nine towns should have adopted the plan by the end of February, said county officials.

"The goal is to actively pursue and take advantage of FEMA funding," said Gillen.

Ryan said the county is in the preliminary stages of planning the slope stabilization project. The project should go out to bid by the spring and would hopefully be completed by the fall, he said.

By stabilizing the slope, the redevelopment of the former Schenectady International Facility can move forward. The158,000-square-foot complex now sits vacant on Broadway.

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