With a $20.5 million cleanup of a hazardous waste site and $1 million water line planned in the area of lower Freemans Bridge Road, Glenville town Supervisor Chris Koetzle says it’s time to make the corridor — a unique mix of industrial and retail businesses — shine.
Koetzle, speaking to about 100 business representatives at The Waters Edge Lighthouse’s The Terrace for the fourth annual Let’s Talk Business Expo, said Thursday the town should make the most of the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s commitment to clean up the former Kenco Chemical Co. site and bring water to about 100 residents whose wells risk contamination. Both projects will be paid for with state Superfund dollars.
Koetzle said the water line extension will connect Freemans Bridge Road to the Scotia village line, and could open properties in that area for development.
“We’re going to leverage that into a beautification project for lower Freemans Bridge Road, which is up here tonight,” Koetzle said, referring to a conceptual map behind him.
The map showed a new road that would run from Freemans Bridge Road just north of Elmo’s Autobody to Maple Avenue. The road is now a private road that serves the auto shop as well as an industrial site owned by Gorman Group, which provides pavement-preservation services.
Koetzle said the new road would help alleviate traffic on Freemans Bridge Road and open up the area for new development. He said a traffic study recently commissioned by the town showed that traffic on some parts of the road have increased by 29 percent within the past six years, which he saw as an indication that the town is growing.
Koetzle also said the new road would turn what is now an “askew” intersection of the private road, Sunnyside Road and Freemans Bridge Road, into a four-way intersection that’s easier to navigate.
“I stress this is a concept plan,” Koetzle said. “This is a vision. But this is a start. We put our stake in the ground. We now begin the work of going out, recruiting businesses, finding the money and getting this project done.
“I’m excited about our future.”
The new road would encircle about 15 acres of vacant brownfield owned by Pat Popolizio, owner of Waters Edge Lighthouse.
“I think it’s going to be a great thing,” Popolizio said. “I think that this whole area will develop tremendously.”
Popolizio said the concept plan adds to the excitement of a $330 million casino planned to be built across the Mohawk River in Schenectady. He said he wants to attract “any type of business that complements what we’re trying to accomplish here” to the property, which is just north of his restaurant, banquet facility and marina.
“It’s a first-class operation,” he said. “We’re looking for people that will complement us.”
Brian Jones, technical manager of Gorman Group, was less optimistic. He expressed concern that the plan, which would include a rezoning of the area to encourage retail, could hurt his industrial business. His company’s property is now zoned research, develop and technology.
“We’ve been in this particular site now since somewhere in the late ’40s, so we’ve been here for a very long time,” he said. “I just want to make sure that businesses that are already in the area don’t see a negative impact from it.”
Koetzle has said, however, that the town could add an overlay zone, so that current industrial businesses aren’t negatively affected by any zoning changes.
Koetzle also announced Thursday that the town’s Revitalization and Economic Development Investment program will offer matching grants to business owners willing to make improvements to the exterior of their businesses.
Those grants will be focused on the Freemans Bridge Road corridor, but all town business owners are eligible, he said.
Thursday’s expo, which featured a cash bar and refreshments, gave business owners a chance to apply for their share of $25,000 being allocated from the REDI fund. Merchants can apply for up to $5,000 from the town and must pay 75 percent of the project costs, with the town’s contribution covering the remaining 25 percent. The deadline to apply is May 15.
The program, entering its fifth year, was previously focused on signage. Business owners leveraged nearly $80,000 in grants from the town to install more than 30 signs, Koetzle said.
“We decided to focus it a little bit differently this year to expand on beautification, but to focus on Freemans Bridge Road,” he said.
The funding comes from sales-tax revenue the town receives from the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, which totaled about $860,000 this year.