Canton-Potsdam Hospital's Lawrence Avenue project troubled by storm water runoff
Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 2:48 pm

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- The planning boards for both the Village of Potsdam and St. Lawrence County will be taking up the revised storm water drainage plans for Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s expansion at its Lawrence Avenue building.

The hospital’s multi-million dollar expansion at the former St. Mary’s School property has been complicated by potential flooding problems at the site, through which runoff from nearby agricultural land is moving.

The Potsdam Village Planning Board meets Thursday, March 7 to review the revised plan, but the board will take no action at that meeting.

“They have changed the plan from underground retention to above-ground retention” of storm runoff, said village Planning Board Chairman Ted Prahl, in part because of changes the state had made to regulations pertaining to such projects.

Changes to the parking lot are also under review.

Prahl said some of the work at the site had to be stopped because the plan had undergone significant changes that had not been part of the original plan, had not undergone review, and had not been approved.

Prahl said the drainage problem is part of a continuing concern for the village, which has seen persistent and significant flooding along the course of the old drainage canals that start near Lawrence Avenue and cross under downtown streets to empty into the Raquette River.

Any plan must provide for control of the storm water coming into the clinic site while not contributing to flows beyond the site, Prahl said.

“Not that the hospital is doing anything wrong,” he said. “They just have to change the plan to deal with the water.”

Prahl said the hospital’s contractor can continue to pour the foundation for the building extension, along with other work at the site, “but not too far until everyone has been satisfied” that the drainage will be contained.

Meanwhile the St. Lawrence County Planning Board will take up the matter Thursday night, March 14, about the concerns over possible flooding and how the storm water runoff is to be dealt with. They are also involved because of the changes to the plan the hospital’s engineers submitted and got approval for last fall.

The hospital purchased the former Catholic school building and surrounding site and converted the school into clinics and doctors’ offices. The building extension will provide more clinic and office space.