When new town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak looks at the Route 50 corridor that runs through the center of town, he sees a lot of untapped potential.
“One of my main emphases is going to be economic development in the Route 50 corridor,” said Szczepaniak, who took office on Jan. 1.
Most of the six miles of state highway between Burnt Hills and Ballston Spa is zoned for commercial development, though for the most part fields, forest and single-family houses dominate the roadside landscape.
The road already has public water, but not the sewer service that is often needed to attract developers.
To try to spur new development, Szczepaniak is considering seeking a town-funded sewer study — a study that could build on work done for the sewer project approved by voters last fall that will install sewers around Ballston Lake.
Szczepaniak, a 52-year-old Burnt Hills resident who works as a project manager at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, succeeded Patrick Ziegler, a fellow Republican who decided not to seek re-election after a single term as supervisor.
Szczepaniak had been on the Town Board for eight years and was deputy supervisor for the last two years. He was elected without opposition in November.
The part-time supervisor’s position pays $18,410 a year, plus a similar amount for serving as a Saratoga County supervisor. Despite the job’s part-time status, Szczepaniak said he anticipates being at Town Hall every weekday afternoon. “I think it’s important to be accessible and responsive,” he said in an interview.
Ballston in recent years has been among the faster-growing towns in the state, with housing being built east of Ballston Lake that has pushed the town’s population past 10,000. But in some respects, commercial development has lagged behind the residential growth.
That’s changing. Szczepaniak is taking office as the landscape is about to change at the north end of the Route 50 corridor, with Stewart’s planning to rebuild its store just outside Ballston Spa, and Wal-Mart expected to break ground in the spring.
The Wal-Mart won town approval last year despite significant public opposition. The store was reduced in size from a supercenter proposed at the same site a decade ago.
Szczepaniak said he looks forward to the sales tax revenue Wal-Mart will bring in.
“I feel good about it,” he said. “It’s not going to be a supercenter. It’s not going to have a garden center, and it’s not going to have an auto department, so it won’t be competing with local businesses.”
But the Wal-Mart will sell food and groceries, he noted, which is good given what he said he heard during the campaign. “When you knock on people’s doors, what they want is a grocery store,” he said.
There are no grocery stores in Ballston. The nearest are in Glenville and Malta.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Business and Professional Association is excited about the possibilities of the Route 50 corridor, said President Nigar Hale. It has a visioning committee that also involves the local school district, the town of Glenville, and others.
“We just want to be pro-active, and Tim is going to be a great partner,” Hale said.
They agree on the need for redevelopment around the intersection with Lakehill Road in Burnt Hills, where a CVS pharmacy and USA Gas station are currently under consideration for vacant corners.
But Szczepaniak added that redevelopment at the intersection will require addressing the “failing” traffic conditions. Backups are common. Szczepaniak would like to see a sidewalk extended on Lakehill, to make it safer for those who walk, including students.
Also on this year’s town agenda:
u Planning for and opening to the public the historic Hawkwood property, 246 wooded acres at Middle Line Road and Route 50 the town acquired on condition that it become a pastoral park.
u Update the town’s emergency plan.
u Reach a contract agreement with the town Highway Department employees’ union.
Szczepaniak will give a state of the town address at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28, at Town Hall.
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.