This section of North Williams Street has been closed since September.

By PJ Ferguson

The section of North Williams Street that has been closed since September due to the damaged canal wall could be closed for the entirety of this year.

After a conversation with several engineers, Mayor Phil Smith said he believes the situation is a “good candidate” for a $300,000 grant, similar to the grant that is funding the flatiron building cleanup.

However, the village will not know if they have been approved to receive the grant until December, Smith revealed during Monday’s organizational meeting.

“We got to try coming up with money somewhere and I figured that’s a good place to start,” said Smith, noting that there are funds available in the budget to pay for engineering that will need to be completed prior to any repairs or reconstruction.

“We can keep things somewhat moving on that, although slow,” Smith said. “We’ll keep making progress on it.”

Trustee Pat Norton asked if the village would be hiring an engineer to monitor any movement in the wall.

“Do you think we really need it if the road is closed?” asked Trustee Tim Watson, believing the expense should be saved if possible.

“The road is blocked off but it’s not preventing someone from walking over there,” responded Smith, adding that the New York State Canal Corporation suggested the village continue to monitor the wall.

The board agreed, discussing possible engineering firms to handle the monitoring.

During a live stream of the meeting, Whitehall resident James Plude commented: “I would think the road being blocked would be a hot thing to do; what if there is a fire or health problem?”

Smith responded to the concern, discussing multiple options that the village has considered, including purchasing streetlights to open the road to one-lane traffic.

Though the costs have been prohibitive to those measures so far, with street lights estimated to cost $7,000 and the village being forced to rent an excavator or hire an outside party for the project.

“It all comes down to money and manpower,” explained Smith, reminding that because of the coronavirus pandemic, DPW employees are currently home which further complicates the issue.

The village will discuss their options during Thursday’s budget workshop at 10 a.m.

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