Input sought on Johnstown development plan

City residents will have a chance to comment on the proposed comprehensive plan for development at 7

City residents will have a chance to comment on the proposed comprehensive plan for development at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Members of the Common Council reviewed the draft document at City Hall Monday night and scheduled a public hearing for their next meeting.

There were no serious objections to the draft, which has been a couple of years in the making.

Mayor Sarah Slingerland said this is probably the most important document that she’s seen in her tenure at City Hall “because it will set the vision and the direction of the city for several decades to come.”

She also praised the members of the ad hoc committee that completed the draft as well as other officials who helped.

“Where there’s passion there’s hope and where there’s no passion there’s no hope,” she said.

Slingerland said officials have to be vigilant about ensuring the financial future of the city and decide whether some of the proposals in the plan are affordable or not.

One vision that generated discussion Monday was the draft’s proposal for a mixed use of the former Karg Bros. tannery property, which is mostly vacant and city owned.

The city is using part of the former 10-acre tannery parcel for its Department of Public Works garage and the area is ringed by homes and businesses.

The draft plan envisions a mix of residential, commercial and parkland for the site, although City Engineer Chad Kortz said the city has to do more environmental testing on the site and will likely have to do more clean-up work there.

The extent of the work — and the cost — will help determine the site’s future use, he said.

Councilman Chris Foss, who was the chairman of the ad hoc committee, said members thought the park, next to the Johnstown Cemetery and the Cayadutta Creek, could be a beautiful asset for the city.

The committee also said linking the park to the Fonda Johnstown and Gloversville Rail Trail, the Schriver Pond Nature Trail and the school district’s Briggs Street playground would further enhance the site.

Foss said members understand it may not be feasible depending on clean-up costs but thought it could possibly be done in phases, such as putting in a walking trail along the creek, then maybe basketball courts and a soccer pitch, for example.

He said the park would encourage improvements in the housing stock in the area, increase property values and attract some commercial enterprises as well.

Slingerland said the flip side to that is there are already a number of parks in the city along with school athletic fields and facilities.

Also, parks cost money to maintain and do not provide any property tax income, she said.

Councilwoman Cindy Lakata said the city may be forced to add staff — the city has no parks department while DPW workers and volunteers tend to the parks — but she liked the idea.

“I think as a vision it’s great,” she said, but the council will have to weigh the environmental cleanup and maintenance costs when it comes time to make a decision.

She also suggested that there be a standing committee to review the comprehensive plan every year, which Slingerland endorsed “because we’re in such a transitional period.”

Copies of the draft plan are available at City Hall.

Also Monday, the council approved the sale of three properties acquired for non-payment of taxes to the high bidders. After rejecting bids for two of the three in September the city advertised again and there was quite a bit of interest.

There were 10 offers for 20 W. Decker St., which was sold to Colonial Homesteads Inc. for $38,851.

There were four offers for 321 W. Clinton St., which was sold to Daniel Lynaugh for $11,500, and there were also four offers for 3 Washington St., which was sold for $4,500 to Brian Mayo.

Categories: Schenectady County

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