Fulton County Chamber reconsiders YMCA plan

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce board will meet at 8 this morning to review the position it to

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce board will meet at 8 this morning to review the position it took a week ago in support of the YMCA’s downtown homeless housing project.

Chamber member and South Main Street developer Susan Casey, the most outspoken opponent of the $3.5 million project, said Wednesday that she will quit the chamber if the board decides that it is supporting the YMCA proposal.

“There is no way I will belong to an organization that takes a position contrary to what I believe,” she said.

Casey, who operates the clothing business Beacon Wearhouse as well as two apartment complexes she developed on South Main Street, contends that the chamber board should remain neutral on the YMCA project.

Chamber President Wally Hart said YMCA Executive Director Steven Serge was invited to make a presentation this morning so the board can review the position it took a week ago.

After the impromptu vote at last week’s meeting, Hart said it was immediately apparent that the board’s position on the project required clarification and that the board needed more information.

Hart said Serge was invited to this morning’s meeting to “answer as many questions as possible.”

Casey, who is not on the board, learned of last week’s vote soon after it was taken and said she spent the entire day on the phone calling fellow chamber members in protest.

Casey and some other downtown merchants contend that the proposal to double the YMCA’s existing 23-bed complex will introduce additional homeless people into the business district and hinder revitalization efforts.

Serge and his supporters argue that the YMCA is providing needed housing and that prospective tenants would still live elsewhere in the city if the project isn’t built.

YMCA officials presented their proposal to the city Planning Board in February. City planners have asked for additional information, including details on how 23 new tenants would be assigned to the 11 apartments proposed for the YMCA’s bottom two floors.

Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty, adviser to the Planning Board, said the YMCA has until Friday to submit the information. The Planning Board meets again April 6, at which time it could declare that it has enough information to hold a public hearing at its May meeting.

Serge did not return a call Wednesday seeking comment on today’s chamber meeting.

Categories: Schenectady County

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