Canal wall work suspended

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By Jay Mullen

Work being done on the canal wall on North Williams Street has been halted because of evidence found suggesting that the village of Whitehall does not own the wall.

The section of North Williams Street where the canal wall is damaged has been closed off since last September, and it looks as though it will remain closed for the time being.

Mayor Phil Smith said that they began the work by pulling the catch basin that drains into the canal. What they found on the catch basin was of interest to Smith.

Mayor Phil Smith

“They found a bunch of writing and stuff on the catch basin,” he said. “It was more evidence that pointed to the Canal Corporation or the state might own that wall rather than the village.”

Smith said that the basin had a date of June 1995 which could indicate either the date of manufacturing or the date of installation, a contractor’s name, the New York State DOT and Washington Country written on it.

The writing points to everyone but the village.

“It’s just one of those things that is very suspect,” Smith said.

Their hope was to pull the wall in so it wasn’t falling into the canal. The end goal was to have it set up so they could reopen one lane for at least one-way traffic on North Williams Street. But with this new evidence the village has put the work on hold.

Attorneys are getting back involved in the project.

“I have no idea when it will be resolved,” Smith said. “As of right now I don’t think the Canal Corporation has even been notified of what we found because our attorney is drafting letters and things to go to their attorney.”

Smith said that the Canal Corporation will be notified of their findings by the end of the day today or at the beginning of next week.

He said that the village is just as anxious as the residents of Whitehall to get the road open for at least one-way traffic before winter rolls around. Smith knows that it is a huge hassle for everyone to drive around the mountain.

But he doesn’t want to spend unnecessary money to make that happen.

“We are trying to get it open, but at the same time we don’t want to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t belong to us,” Smith said.

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