The first public battle over the Erie Boulevard roundabout is expected today at the Schenectady Planning Commission meeting.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Room 110 at City Hall, the commission will review a proposal to move adult bookstore Another World from Erie Boulevard to lower Broadway. The relocation would make room for the roundabout, an idea that has been widely criticized by business owners and residents.
When Another World owner Rocco Palmer last considered putting an adult bookstore at the lower Broadway site, in 2001, Bellevue neighborhood residents opposed the idea. This time, Palmer and his critics may become unlikely allies — none of them, including Palmer, want Another World on Broadway.
“We don’t want to move. We don’t want to come to Broadway. They’re forcing us to,” Palmer said. “I feel sorry for the people over there.”
Palmer says the city’s roundabout proposal was designed to force him out, and he’s already hired an engineer and an attorney to fight what may become an eminent domain battle.
But if he has to move, he said, he’ll go to 1354 Broadway, where he’s owned a building for years.
The domino effect of that relocation may also force one of the few manufacturing companies out of Schenectady. K&K Steel, which used to operate under the name National Welding & Fabrication, has leased 1354 Broadway for 14 years. Palmer has already told K&K co-owner Peter Kalil to be ready to move out on 30 days’ notice.
Kalil, who hasn’t yet found a new home for his business, isn’t happy.
“I’m going to become the victim. He’s being bought out and I’m being thrown out,” he said. “We’re playing musical chairs with business relocation and I’m just afraid I’ll be left without a seat when the music stops.”
He needs a building in a light industrial zone that has space for 40-foot lengths of steel to be laid out across the floor. So far, those two requirements have eliminated every available space in the city.
“I just have no places to go,” he said. “The last time I found something, it was in Amsterdam. I prefer to stay here.”
The uncertainty has already affected his business. He’s hesitating to bid on major steel contracts because he’s not sure he’ll have a space to work in this fall.
“Right now we’re bidding Niskayuna schools, but I don’t know … I can’t fabricate steel in the middle of the street,” Kalil said.
As for the roundabout, he said it should simply be moved up one block, to Church Street, so that no one has to move.
“Church Street, being the widest part of Erie, would be the place to put it, and you wouldn’t have to disturb any businesses,” he said.
The Schenectady City Council has not yet approved the roundabout plan, but did give engineers permission to begin negotiating to buy the affected properties. Two buildings, both owned by Palmer, would have to be demolished: Another World and Special Arms & Munitions.