The town of Glenville will be establishing new programs in 2021 to help small businesses hit hard by the pandemic, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said.
With the town itself having gotten through the first 10 months of the COVID-19 pandemic fairly well, Koetzle said there will be new efforts this year to aid businesses that haven’t fared as well, and new initiatives to redevelop the Freeman’s Bridge Road commercial corridor.
Koetzle discussed the issues facing the town ahead of delivering a virtual State of the Town presentation Tuesday night, which will be available for live viewing by those who register on the town website under “news.” Afterward, it will then be posted on the town supervisor’s page of the website.
Koetzle, a Republican who has been in office 12 years, is expected to seek re-election this fall. Ahead of the address, he discussed some of the highlights.
“We know that the impacts of the pandemic will linger long after the virus is under control,” he said.
To aid small businesses, Koetzle said he will propose a five-point small business support and stabilization plan.
The plan would include a formalized technical assistance program through the town planning department, helping businesses connect to state and federal help; a bigger role for the town’s local development corporation in providing small loans; seeking state grants to support agricultural businesses; a business liaison program; and quicker town approvals for moves like increasing outdoor business sales.
“This five-point plan is for small business only — it’s time they had an advantage, since the Walmarts and Amazons of the world have flourished in this pandemic,” Koetzle said. “The Glenville small business owner will know that this town is with them, for them, and will never stop fighting to help them.”
Some of the town’s small businesses — as well as its big box superstores — are along Freeman’s Bridge Road, which the town has already been working for years to improve its sometimes-scruffy appearance, and bring more consistency to land uses.
“Our goal is to clean up, beautify and attract: We (already) started by creating a new zone overlay district that will help set the stage for proper land use that is more friendly to small businesses,” Koetlze said.
He said the town planning department will be proposing a method for cleaning up contaminated land near the heart of the corridor, and the corridor’s walkability will increase with construction of a planned multi-use path. Construction of the state-funded path is to start in October; Koetzle said the town will be adding plans for the sort of street light and bench improvements that have worked in the Town Center, but only if it can get grant funding to help with the cost.
In Koetzle’s address, there are also plans to resume improvements to town parks — some improvements were delayed last year as the town battened down finances to deal with the pandemic.
There are plans for improvements at Maalwyck and Indian Meadows parks, and for preliminary work to develop a trail between the village of Scotia, nearby neighborhoods, and Maalwyck, about a mile west of the village.
Another initiative he hopes to pursue this year is to develop a plan in which commercial solar energy producers subsidize the town park programs, through upfront fees when approved and then payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements once they are operating. Potentially, Koetzle said, such a fee could yield six-figure revenue.
“This is going to help us transition to the dedicated parks department that we have never had but desperately need,” he said.
The town doesn’t have any commercial solar applications pending, but Koetzle said he expects some once the town approves a commercial solar regulatory law it is now developing, with approval expected in February or March.
He said he will also be pushing for increased rural access to broadband internet — a longstanding problem in many parts of the state, but one he said needs to be addressed more than ever. “With people staying at home and learning at home, it’s not a luxury anymore,” he said.