Saratoga County

Stillwater residents seek answers on road plan

Dozens of residents who live along the Cold Springs Road corridor peppered town officials with quest

Dozens of residents who live along the Cold Springs Road corridor peppered town officials with questions Wednesday night about the planned road expansion project there in anticipation of the development of the Luther Forest Technology Campus.

The $23 million project will widen and pave over six miles of Cold Springs Road, Farley Road, Fitch Road and Elmore Robinson Road. The majority of the roads are currently dirt or gravel.

The state-funded project will require the town to take ownership of 5 feet of land on either side of the current roads so the shoulder can be paved and expanded.

Beyond the shoulder, several feet of existing land will be modified to allow for stormwater drainage.

After that drainage ditch, the town is seeking a 10-foot permanent easement on 89 properties that would give the town the right to provide public utilities along parts of the roads.

The informational meeting Wednesday night at the Stillwater Area Community Center was to explain the project to the several dozen residents who attended and outline how residents could challenge the easement if they did not agree with it.

Residents who agree to the easement will be given $5,000 compensation by the town, which officials said will be paid for by the Luther Forest Economic Development Corp. Residents who challenge the easement will have to go before a judge in an eminent domain hearing.

“We’re not altering the use of the road, it’s still going to be a road for the traveling public,” said Joe Lanaro, the town engineer with The Chazen Companies. “It’s just going to be constructed consistent with town standards.”

Michelle Putnam, who lives on Elmore Robinson Road, said that she didn’t believe it is fair to residents to give a flat amount of $5,000 for the easements, since the amount of land that will be modified will be different for each property.

“We really tried to be fair by coming up with a flat rate,” Lanaro said. “Based on the assessed value of the property, we looked at the value-per-acre, and the $5,000 was more than adequate to cover the property as a dollar-for-dollar acquisition cost for the right of way.”

Officials will meet with residents individually along the corridor to try to address any concerns that property owners have about the road expansion. The project design could be changed slightly to accommodate requests that property owners have.

Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester and County Supervisor Tom Richardson attended the meeting and told town officials they wanted to make sure that the Mechanicville water supply is protected during construction. Elmore Robinson Road crosses a creek that feeds into the Mechanicville reservoir.

Several other residents raised concerns about the fact that Advanced Micro Devices has not yet committed to building a $3.2 billion computer chip factory at the Luther Forest Technology Campus. AMD must break ground on the project by July 2009 to qualify for $1.2 billion in tax breaks under an agreement the company signed with the state in 2006.

“The town has to move forward,” Supervisor Shawn Connelly said. “If AMD doesn’t come, someone else is.”

Joe Franco, who lives on Cold Springs Road, said he was concerned that the project ends about 300 feet short of the intersection of Cold Springs Road and Route 76 near Saratoga Lake.

“It’s in pretty tough condition right now,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to pave 6.3 miles of dirt road and have the most traveled part of Cold Springs in the condition that’s in now.”

Lanaro said that the state Department of Transportation would be conducting a separate project on that intersection. The area includes wetlands and construction is complicated there, he said.

The northern portion of Cold Springs Road to the Luther Forest Technology Campus is expected to be completed by October 2009. The rest of the project should be finished by August 2010.

Officials said they hope to either have signed contracts for the $5,000 easements with residents or complete eminent domain procedures before construction begins.

Categories: Schenectady County

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