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Repairs slow at Guy Park Manor

Flood damage not expected to be fixed until 2016

Monday, November 18, 2013
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NYS Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton, looks over the interior construction of the new lockhouse that was built at Lock 11 Guy Park Manor in Amsterdam.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
NYS Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton, looks over the interior construction of the new lockhouse that was built at Lock 11 Guy Park Manor in Amsterdam.

— Two years after massive floodwaters damaged locks along the Mohawk River and Erie Canal, progress is being made in repairing the locks and their support structures.

The state is also heading toward repairs of Guy Park Manor, the 240-year-old building alongside Lock 11 that was nearly gutted by the 2011 floods caused by tropical storms Irene and Lee. The building once served as a meeting place for Colonists and Indians.

Contractors are putting finishing touches on a new lockhouse and storage facility, marking the completion of one segment of a multi-year project to repair the flood damage.

With these repairs in place, Canal Corp. officials who toured the site last week said it will take a lot more than the 2011 flooding to knock these structures down in the future.

The new lockhouse — raised an entire floor — elevates computers, office space and other equipment about 10 feet higher than they were before August 2011, when the Mohawk River tore through the site.

The newly built lockhouse meets codes for riverside structures. Pilings, which keep it in place, are driven 50 feet deep into the bedrock.

“It’s not going to go anywhere,” Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton said.

While work on Lock 11 is underway, designers and planners are drafting plans for the historic mansion at Guy Park Manor. Roughly $4.2 million will be spent on the historic building, which sustained massive damage in the floods.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the stone home was built by Guy Johnson, nephew of Sir William Johnson, who built the first house for him. That first home burned down in 1773 after being hit by lightning.

Guy Park Manor was a short-lived residence for Guy Johnson, who fled to Canada in 1775, remaining loyal to the British during the American Revolution. It has changed hands a few times since then and once served as a tavern. The state acquired it in 1905 when the canal was being enlarged.

Though all the details of the repairs haven’t been finalized, officials are considering raising the entire mansion between eight and 10 feet to bring it about one foot above the 100-year flood elevation.

Other protections would be included as well for the building, which was teetering after losing much of its support in the 2011 flooding.

The state’s Office of General Services coordinated emergency work for the building and MLB Construction Services of Malta and Eastern Buildings and Restoration of Albany stabilized and cleaned out the structure, leaving it dry and ready for repairs.

A berm of earth and stone will be built along the old mansion’s western side as protection from the kind of damage it sustained in 2011, when floodwaters packed with logs and other debris slammed into the building.

A design consultant is being sought by the state Office of General Services, and the rehabilitation is projected to begin in the summer of 2015 and be completed the next year, according to the Canal Corp.

Like other elevated buildings — growing more common in Capital Region communities near water — the new Lock 11 structures include venting on lower levels that will be used just to store equipment. The venting addition lessens the pressure on buildings when they’re surrounded by water and protects them from being crushed.

Though the new structures are prepared to be hit with water, Stratton said other work underway should lessen the risk of high water hitting them.

Strengthening the Erie Canal’s movable dams is essential. The decades-old steel dams are being bolstered to ensure they can be opened in advance of severe weather to let the floodwater flow downstream.

Uprights that hold the force of the water, creating reservoirs for navigation between the dams, were strengthened at Lock 11 as part of a $7.1 million project that continues at locks 9 in Glenville and 10 in Cranesville.

Lifting machinery for all the movable dams from locks 8 through 15 is being rehabilitated as part of a $5.7 million project expected to continue until 2016. Both of these jobs being completed by C.D. Perry LLC are receiving FEMA money, according to the Canal Corp.

There were other repairs at Lock 11 this summer, including restoration of the access road and parking area and repairs to the spillway, concrete walkways and railings. The $1.9 million, FEMA-supported project is being tackled by W.M. Shultz Inc.

D.A. Collins Inc. this month secured a contract to undertake a $21.4 million rehabilitation at Lock 11. That work will focus on repairing the concrete piers and improvements to abutments, steel trusses, other machinery and electrical repairs.

 
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