Saratoga County

Malta likely to OK zone change for aquatic center

The Town Board appears ready to grant zoning approval for a proposed regional aquatic center on Rout

The Town Board appears ready to grant zoning approval for a proposed regional aquatic center on Route 67 near Northway Exit 12, but wants to make it part of a broader series of zoning changes in the area rather than a stand-alone project.

The Town Board has been considering a planned development district for the proposed center’s site, but on Monday some Town Board members said they’d rather combine it with plans for a larger zoning change under which a large part of Route 67 would be converted from residential to commercial zoning.

Adirondack Aquatic representatives said they’d be concerned about the change leading to delay, since the Town Board is only beginning its discussion about the broader zoning changes.

“A lot of our [fundraising] conversations are dependent on approval of the zoning change. We’d like to see the PDD approved by the end of the summer,” said Michael Relyea, a member of the aquatic center’s board. “It just makes me very nervous knowing some of the conversations we have had … that there might be a little delay.”

Adirondack Aquatic attorney Libby Coreno said the organization’s board would need to discuss the matter.

But town officials said they’re not trying to cause a delay or problem with the center’s fundraising.

“We don’t want it to be something that bogs down the process, but as long at the timing lines up I think it’s appropriate,” said Town Board member Tim Dunn, who said he supports the project.

“The Town Board is trying to streamline the process,” said Town Supervisor Vincent DeLucia.

The $22 million Adirondack Aquatic Center project will require zoning approval as a planned development district. Town Board members, despite speaking positively of the project, said details still need to be worked out before the plans can be brought to a vote.

The project, first submitted to the town last September, calls for construction of a roughly 60,000-square-foot indoor swimming pool complex, including a 22-lane competition pool, an eight-lane teaching pool, and a therapy pool. Eventually, the facility hopes to have an eight-lane outdoor pool. It would be at the western corner of Route 67 and State Farm Boulevard, on land now owned by Ted Willette.

The center would be geared to draw high-level competitive swimming events from up to a 100-mile radius. A cafe for users is planned, along with medical-nutritionist offices with ties to swimming therapy.

One critical issue is traffic on Route 67, which is one of the busiest state highways in Saratoga County, used by more than 20,000 vehicles per day — a level that is among the reasons many residential property owners want to see the route rezoned for commercial use.

“This is a tough stretch of road at peak traffic hours,” said Councilman John Hartzell, who chaired the Route 67 study committee.

The aquatic center has proposed construction of a left-hand turning lane for westbound traffic, and that all exiting traffic be required to turn right. Those wanting to head west would need to reverse direction at the roundabout in front of State Farm Insurance.

Dunn suggested that vehicles coming from the east should also be encouraged to use the existing roundabout in front of State Farm, which would require drivers to loop past State Farm’s offices, but avoid making a left turn across traffic farther west.

The center’s proposal is currently under review by the state Department of Transportation, which must give its approval. “Let’s face it, whatever DOT says is going to trump what we say,” DeLucia said.

The center has offered a host community benefit under which Malta residents would receive a 10-percent discount on open swim sessions. “If things grow and change, we can come back to the drawing board,” Coreno said.

Coreno said Adirondack Aquatic hopes to receive federal non-profit organization status, which would make it tax-exempt.

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