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Sewer overflow prevention restricts parking at Alumni Quad

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Upgrade work to prevent sewer and storm water from overflowing into Alumni Quad’s courtyard began last Tuesday, further restricting residents’ limited parking space.

The city of Albany’s emergency ‘no-parking’ cones along sections of O’Leary and Ontario near the quad will remain in place until March 16 while the project is completed.

Albany police said Friday that the department had already towed five cars for parking in the off-limits areas.

Public information officer Steven Smith said he did not know if any of them were students’ cars.

Ema Buco, Alumni Quad assistant director, sent an email to Alumni Quad residents Tuesday morning with the subject line “URGENT: O’Leary Street Parking/ Cars Towed.”

Buco did not respond to The ASP’s request for comment.

The short message said Buco had ‘got some insight’ that Albany would be towing cars on O’Leary, then advised students to move their cars as soon as possible.

Nick Vales, a junior computer science major on Alumni Quad, said he didn’t know until early last week that the sections of the street would be off-limits for parking.

“I heard about people getting towed, but I was at my friend’s house downtown,” said Vales. “I’m glad it wasn’t my car, because getting towed is way more expensive than a ticket.”

Vales, like many Alumni residents who own cars, consistently has had trouble finding parking in his two semesters at UAlbany.

“If there was more parking, like if there’s a parking lot that I could park in that would be nice. I just have to park on the street basically,” said Vales.

UAlbany-contracted workers at the site are restoring and separating Albany’s main sewer trunk, which runs underneath Alumni Quad, from storm passageways which allowed water to overflow into the courtyard.

John Giarrusso, vice president of finance and administration for UAlbany facilities management, said the upgrade was scheduled to coincide with spring break.

“Nothing was broken, per se, except a long standing issue with the design of the entire system,” said Giarrusso.

The city of Albany’s storm drains flow into its sewer system, a design common to American cities built prior to the early twentieth century.

Giarrusso said that several times in the past five years, heavy rains have filled Albany’s storm systems and flooded into Alumni via a manhole in the courtyard.

“In limited situations, it migrated into the basements of Sayles and Pierce which required great clean-up on our part,” said Giarrusso.

Pierce and Sayles currently don’t have student living areas in their basements, but Giarrusso said the school wants to develop common areas there in the future.

Albany has faced issues with its combined sewer system in the past, with the Times Union reporting last July that four million gallons of sewage spilled into the Hudson River near the Port of Albany.


Joe Hoffman is the managing editor for the Albany Student Press.

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