Schenectady County

Land transfer, road to allow for facility

The Schenectady County Legislature is expected to take two key actions next week to allow Fortitech

The Schenectady County Legislature is expected to take two key actions next week to allow Fortitech to begin its proposed $4 million project at the Schenectady County Airport later this year.

One action is to accept $150,000 from the Metroplex Development Authority to build a 1,200-foot county road to the project site. The other is to sell 24 acres of county property at the airport to the Schenectady County Industrial Development Agency for $1.1 million. The IDA will then sell the property to Fortitech for the same amount.

Both actions are essential, as the county will not build the road until Fortitech purchases the property, said Joe Ryan, director of publics works.

The property transfer through the IDA will allow Fortitech to receive tax breaks on the purchase of construction materials.

Fortitech, a Schenectady company with a world market for its custom nutrient systems, proposes to spend $4 million to build a distribution facility and a research and development center on the property. At least one building will measure 40,000 square feet; the size of the second building is unknown. Fortitech will rename the parcel Airport Tech Park.

The vacant land lies along Route 50 in Glenville and is not seen as necessary by the airport for future growth.

The company will continue to operate its headquarters in the Riverside Technology Park off Maxon Road Extension in Schenectady. It has already built out that site for its fast-growing business, said Ray Gillen, Metroplex chairman.

The county expects to finish the road by October, allowing Fortitech to begin construction thereafter, Ryan said. Fortitech expects to complete work in 2009, company officials said.

The 1,200-foot extension will connect to Rudy Chase Drive, which intersects Route 50. “This is continuing the road and gets Fortitech to the driveway of their site,” Ryan said.

The county will construct the road within four weeks, using public works’ staff, Ryan said. “It is a tight budget. But if we need to, we will come back to the Legislature,” he said.

The county used the sale of the property to help reduce what had been a projected 9.7 percent increase in the tax levy proposed under a $283.4 million budget for 2008.

Fortitech is a privately held company employing 180 in Schenectady County and has annual sales in excess of $100 million.

Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Glenville, said the Legislature is setting a bad precedent by using Metroplex money for a county project. “For years, I sat on this Legislature where legislators tried to use Metroplex as a subterfuge to fund county government projects,” Farley said. “The county should pay for this.”

Gillen said Metroplex built a road in Niskayuna and a railroad spur for the Railex project in Rotterdam.

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