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High water marked

Developers of former ALCO site looked at flooding early on

— Riverside property can be prime real estate for developers, but this past summer has shown proximity to water can also invite disaster.

That’s why developers of Schenectady’s 60-acre ALCO brown field site are taking precautions. Tropical Storms Irene and Lee gave Schenectady County officials and residents an idea of what worst-case flooding scenarios could entail, with flood levels from the Mohawk River nearing the 100-year flood level.

The ALCO brownfield directly borders the Mohawk. As the Galesi Group prepares 60,000 square feet for development, with construction planned to be completed in the summer of 2013, developers say the issue of flooding was examined early on.

“As far as we can tell … the ALCO site never really had any serious flooding issues at the site,” said Ray Gillen, commissioner of Economic Development and Planning for Schenectady County. “You do prepare for the worst case, you do prepare for the 100- and 500-year (flood) events … they use modern building practices.”

Gillen referenced the large mounds of dirt recently deposited that will help lift the entire site up 6 feet before any new building are constructed. He said the dirt is checked to by the state to make sure it’s clean. The site is also in an outer zone of the Great Flats Aquifer recharge area.

Gillen said flooding should not be “a cause of concern,” because development plans aim to have no impact if a similar or worse flood occurs.

“We anticipate and build into the site plan any ways to deal with a flood risk,” Gillen said.

David Buicko, chief operating officer of Galesi Group, said “a significant amount of fill” had already been brought to the site. In addition to raising the site, he said the company would also work with engineers to minimize any impacts from significant flooding.

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