Harrietstown retaining wall project begins

SARANAC LAKE – More than three years after the surging waters of the Saranac River damaged a retaining wall behind the Harrietstown Town Hall, the effort to replace it is finally underway.

Crews from Plattsburgh-based Luck Brothers Construction installed a silt curtain and placed roughly 800 sandbags in the river, along the River Walk, last week. Eventually, the water behind the wall of sandbags will be pumped out to give crews more room to remove the existing retaining wall and build a new one.

“We’re on schedule so far,” town of Harrietstown Code Enforcement Officer Ed Randig said Thursday during a tour of the site.

The project is scheduled to wrap up by late July. The new retaining wall will be roughly 30 inches higher than the existing wall, Randig said. It will be made of Redi-Rock, large pre-made blocks, and sections of pre-cast concrete.

The retaining wall was undermined in April 2011 when the river, fueled by a combination of heavy rain and spring snowmelt, overflowed its banks. Getting it replaced turned into what some town officials described as a bureaucratic nightmare.

The project required a long list of approvals from, among others, the state Adirondack Park Agency, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Luck Brothers, which is serving as general contractor, was the low bidder on the project. The town awarded the firm a $264,000 contract in January.

The project also involved relocating the electrical service at the back of the building, work that was done by North Country Electrical Services of Gabriels. A generator that was located behind the town hall has been moved to the town highway garage. A new generator has been purchased and installed in an outside alcove between the town hall auditorium and lower level board room by North Bangor-based Bill’s General Repair.