Schenectady County

Farm once occupied land that S-G district wants for expansion

The property that sits at 211 Sacandaga Road in Glenville has been home to a vegetable farm and prod
Pat Morelli working inside his business, Glass Express located at 211 Sacadaga Road.
Pat Morelli working inside his business, Glass Express located at 211 Sacadaga Road.

The property that sits at 211 Sacandaga Road in Glenville has been home to a vegetable farm and produce stand, hardware store and garden center and, for the past year and change, a small glass business.

But Scotia-Glenville Central School District officials hope the property’s next chapter will be theirs to write.

District voters on Feb. 9 will be asked to support $999,000 to purchase the three-parcel, 7.3-acre property that holds the hardware store, three neighboring homes and a handful of outbuildings. The current landowners will foot the bill of demolition, estimated at around $100,000.

School officials admit they have no plans for the land, which is adjacent to the high school parking lot. But they argue the opportunity is one they can’t pass up.

“I’m really asking the community to take a leap of faith with me and plan for the future,” said Superintendent Susan Swartz during an information session Saturday.

Tony Dorazio Jr., who owns and ran the hardware store for nearly four decades until he retired and closed it in April 2014, said the vote has been a long time coming.

For more than 20 years, he said, he and his family have been in on-again, off-again negotiations to sell land that has been in his family since his grandfather acquired it in the early-1930s.

Part of his grandfather’s original land was sold to the school district when officials were looking to build the high school.

“As a family, we always agreed the best use of the property would be for the schools, because it protects them as for what could be built there, and that whatever they use it for will be safe for the students,” he said.

If the land purchase goes through, however, Pat Morelli, who runs his small commercial and residential glass business Glass Express out of the old hardware store, will be looking for a new home for his business.

“They aren’t going to put me out of business,” he said. “But they are going to put me down for a while.”

Morelli — who graduated from Scotia-Glenville High School in 1988 and remembers cutting through the Dorazio property on his way to school — moved into the store in November 2014 and has been going month-to-month with Dorazio since the yearlong lease ended last year.

He said he invested $7,500 in remodeling the store. But as he walked around the store Thursday, showing off his displays of windows and different types of glass — for doors, windows, mirrors and “everything except auto” — Morelli described the plans he feels now may never come to fruition. Add more carpeting. Add displays, finish painting, insulate and refinish a garage into a workshop.

But those upgrades have been on hold as he waits to see whether he will have to move. Morelli, who lives in Ballston Spa, said he is looking for a place to buy, working on a good prospect in Glenville.

He said a potential move and the uncertainty hanging over his end is likely to follow him into the busy season that starts in the spring.

“I’ll have a month and a half, maybe two, to move an entire business,” he said. “It’s hard moving a business.”

He hopes to hire full-time employees — now it’s him and some part-timers when the job is big enough — and continue to grow the business for the next 20 or 25 years.

“I can take my business any place,” Morelli said. “I can take it to Ballston Spa, I can take it to Schenectady, I can take it anywhere. Do I want to? No.”

For his part, Dorazio said Morelli should have known what he was getting into when they signed the lease and that had he made moves to make an offer on the land, he could’ve been in the running as the next owner.

“We’ve been 100 percent above board,” Dorazio said of his dealings with Morelli. “I said, ‘Pat, this property will remain for sale,’ the signs were up, he knew what was going on.”

Dorazio said he had records that indicate his grandfather, who emigrated from Italy and worked for New York Central Railroad, acquired the property sometime before 1932.

His dad later purchased the land and turned it into a vegetable farm, which he worked through World War II. He grew “all kinds of vegetables,” berries and fruits and sold them at Market Square in Schenectady and from a stand on the land. Dorazio’s father even hosted a show on WRGB, where he showed people how to plant their own “Victory Gardens” at home.

In the late 1940s, Dorazio’s dad built the hardware store and a large greenhouse, from which they sold plants. Dorazio and his sister went to Scotia-Glenville High School — it was in their backyard, after all.

He graduated in 1968, and eventually worked five years for the district as an industrial arts teacher, leading woodshop, metalworking and mechanical drawing classes at both the middle school and high school. He retired from teaching in 1976 and went to work at the hardware store, he said.

“It will be a little difficult; I can’t say I won’t miss it,” he said. “But the needs the schools have for it and what they can use it for will really please me.”

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