Wall on North Williams Street eroding

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B y Derek Liebig

The village of Whitehall is preparing to repair a damaged section of wall along the canal.  

Officials are expected to gather some soil samples behind the canal wall on North Williams Street as they begin to explore the extent of damage to the wall.

“We are getting ready to do some boring,” Mayor Peter Telisky said. “The ground is eroding behind the wall. It’s reasonably stable at the moment, but we know it’s moving.”

Crews will be in the village today taking soil samples from behind the wall. The work is expected to close North Williams Street from the Elks lodge to the gazebo on the eastern side of the canal from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.

According to Telisky, village employees painted part of the side walk white that joins the wall white and have noticed that the line has moved approximately one inch over the last month and a half. 

The soil sample will allow officials to determine the different substrates of earth behind the wall and how to best address the problem.

For the past couple of months, officials have closed off a section of sidewalk with yellow caution tape to prevent local residents from treading on ground immediately above the worst section of wall.

Officials contend there isn’t any immediate danger of the wall collapsing and patrons walking over the area aren’t going to expedite the erosion, but the area has been closed off because the movement of the wall has affected the grade of the sidewalk and compromised the safety rails along the wall in that area.

“It isn’t a calamity; it’s not going to give out all at once,” Telisky said. “But it’s moving. I think the wall itself is fine, but it’s the dirt behind the wall that is eroding away.”

But that doesn’t mean officials aren’t concerned. “It’s not if it’s going to fall, but when,” village trustee Ken Bartholomew said during a recent board meeting.

Telisky said the village is trying to be proactive before the problem gets too much worse. Unfortunately, repairing the wall won’t be cheap.

“It’s going to be very costly. I’ve talked with (NYS) canal corp. and they’ve said it’s our wall and they can’t help us,” Telisky said. “Right now we are looking for ways to pay for it.”

Compounding the situation is the fact that the village may have to relocate water and sewer lines around the mountain toward the golf course and back up North Williams Street from the north because of their current proximity to the line.

Telisky said he believes the condition of the wall was made worse by this spring’s flooding.

He’s engaged in an on-going discussion with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine if there may be avenues there to help pay for the project but nothing has been determined to date.

Because there is very little room in the budget for a project of this scale, officials may wait a few months until they begin putting together the new budget and can find areas from which they can reallocate monies.
They were preparing to hire another Public Works employee but that idea may be shelved so they can use the money to help pay for the project.

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