Schenectady County

Schenectady County dispatch center location selected

Schenectady County will site its new unified communications center in a building slated to be constr

Schenectady County will site its new unified communications center in a building slated to be constructed on the Grand Union property in Rotterdam.

County officials last week approved an agreement with Highbridge Development Rt. 146 LLC, in which the company will lease the new 4,230-square-foot building on Hamburg Street to the county at a cost of $309,252 over 20 years. The lease is dependent on the building being inhabitable by November and completed no later than January 2014, according to the agreement adopted by the county Legislature last week.

The proposal from Highbridge wasn’t among three that were submitted in response to the county’s request for proposals in January. Those proposals were for sites on Clinton Street in Schenectady, Settles Hill Road in Princetown and at the Galesi Group’s Rotterdam Corporate Park.

“None of the three were suitable, so [county officials] continued negotiations with the new group that came in,” spokesman Joe McQueen said Monday. “This was deemed as the best plan and location for the site.”

New plan

The plan is a departure from one proposed last month by Highbridge, which included a massive $8.3 million overhaul of the long-dormant Grand Union building to transform the former supermarket into a police and courts facility for Rotterdam, which the town would then take over. The project would have set aside space in the building for the centralized dispatch facility, which the county would lease from the town.

The project received broad support from business and property owners in the vicinity of Hamburg Street eager to see new life breathed into the struggling commercial corridor. But members of the Town Board balked at the cost and decided they had an obligation to formally seek proposals to build a new public safety facility, rather than simply giving support to the Highbridge project.

The new proposal will only affect about a half-acre of the 4.6-acre site and will create a freestanding structure for the dispatch center. Highbridge is expected to pitch plans for the dispatch center and have its application for a special use permit reviewed during Rotterdam’s Planning Commission meeting this evening.

County officials are running out of time to build the new dispatch center.

It must be operational by the fall for the county to use a $1 million state grant.

Supervisor Harry Buffardi said the town is still mulling its options for a new public safety facility to replace the worn structure on Princetown Road that now houses the police department and justice court. But he said the county’s timetable to build the new dispatch center was more aggressive than the one the town was following for its future project.

Buffardi said the county’s decision to locate the center on Hamburg Street shouldn’t affect the town either way.

He said the town could still decide to locate the public safety facility in the former Grand Union, purchase the property from the developer and then lease the dispatch center back to the county to generate some revenue to offset costs.

“Hamburg Street has always been an attractive location, but that’s not to the exclusion of others,” he said.

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