Burden Lake Road closed for over a year; no reopening in sight

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Part of Burden Lake Road in Sand Lake has been closed for more than a year. Detours and road closure signs have become part of the landscape since they were placed there in August 2021, about a month after severe flooding hit the area.

The problem is, nobody seems to know exactly what the issue is, including Sand Lake Town Supervisor Scott Gallerie.

“There was an issue with the dam that was not quite quantified what the issue was,” he said.

Three main entities own the span. The majority owner is the Burden Lake Preservation Corporation, which owns the dam. The town of Sand Lake owns a sewer line that runs under the dam. Rensselaer County owns the road.

The county initially decided to close the road over safety concerns, but even county officials cannot explain why. It sent a letter in March to residents affected by the closure. The letter said it is not believed the road and the property the road is based on are safe.

“There’s no reason why they have not proceeded to do anything to open it back up,” Paula Hernick said. “I would like to know the reason.”

Hernick is the owner of Paula’s Country Kitchen, located right at the entrance of the road. She said she’s lost around a quarter of her business.

“That’s maybe my profit,” she said. “By the time people come up, see my specials sign, they are not going to turn around. They might as well just go to the next place.”

The road closure is not very big. It’s about 200 feet. However, it’s a world of inconvenience for the residents who live near the road, and some say it’s dangerous.

“Because people can’t come through here, they’re cutting through the other neighborhoods, and they’re cutting through fast. It’s really hard for these quiet neighborhoods to suddenly have more traffic whipping around to get to the other end,” said Michelle Leclair, who lives in Rensselaer County.

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Gallerie says the next step would be to hire an engineer to inspect it and see if there is something actually wrong, but that’s expensive.

“The cost that I saw was approximately $65,000,” he said.

If you were to split the cost based on who owns the most property, the preservation corporation would handle most of the payment.

“I actually have very little say. My role in this is to try to facilitate a conversation with the parties and hopefully,” Gallerie said.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation considers the Burden Lake dam a Class B intermediate hazard dam. This means if the dam were to fail it may result in damage to isolated homes, main highways, and other infrastructure problems.

Gallerie says he has met with the parties to consider the best route of action, given the financial issue.

The preservation corporation has not responded to 13 Investigates’ inquiry for comment.