Rivers Ledge in Niskayuna gets sewer line approval

PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER The area behind Williams Auto Parts on Aqueduct Road in Niskayuna where junked cars used to be stored Thursday, August 30, 2018.PETER R. BARBER/GAZETTE PHOTOGRAPHER The area behind Williams Auto Parts on Aqueduct Road in Niskayuna where junked cars used to be stored Thursday, August 30, 2018.

By John Cropley
Gazette Business Editor

NISKAYUNA — Nearly three years after it was first proposed, the Rivers Ledge project is on track for final approval.

The $26 million housing complex off Aqueduct Road near the Rexford Bridge will consist of 16 buildings with 10 apartments each. The second phase, if it is built, could consist of up to 100 units of senior housing and small retail spaces.

Developers Peter Luizzi and Saverio Minucci first proposed the project in January 2016.

The 21-acre site had been home for more than a half-century to Williams Auto Parts, a junkyard that sat along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. The buildings are vacant and many of the derelict vehicles have been removed from the site. A few junkers and some dumpsters remain on site, along with a boat, a cargo trailer, a payloader, old tires and assorted junk.

The longtime presence of the junkyard created the potential for soil and water contamination from spilled vehicle fluids, necessitating an environmental testing and review. That took time but revealed the site to be fairly clean.

The town Planning Board granted approval in December 2017, clearing the way for groundbreaking in spring 2018, but one more delay cropped up: The sewer system.

Town sewer lines do not reach that area, and such a heavy concentration of new residences on the edge of the river could not be served by a septic system.

The original plan was to run a gravity-fed sewer line to the Schenectady sewage treatment plant, 1.2 miles southwest on Anthony Street. After a review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, a key detail was changed: The effluent will be pumped at low pressure instead of flowing downhill through the force of gravity.

This will allow the line to be placed a few feet deep and to rise and fall with the gentle hills on Aqueduct Road, rather than be straight, level and deeply buried. The installation cost will be borne by the developer.

Coincidentally, Environment One, a manufacturer of pumped sewage system components, sits a stone’s throw from the Rivers Ledge site. Many of E/One’s 150 employees work at the company’s factory and headquarters off Balltown Road, but others travel the world selling its equipment and services.

More than 1 million people do their business each day on plumbing fixtures connected to E/One pumps; its largest installed all-terrain system serves 16,000 houses near Melbourne, Australia.

Right in its back yard, E/One will design a much smaller system for Rivers Ledge.

Residents along Aqueduct Road will be able to connect to the sewer line when it is completed.

The site plan approved by the town in December has been revised to reflect the altered sewer design and is tentatively scheduled for review at the Sept. 17 Planning Board meeting.

A manager at Peter Luizzi Contracting said on Aug. 31 that the company is excited about the review process ending at long last and eager to begin work on site.