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Saratoga County set to buy tech park

Saratoga County set to buy tech park

Saratoga County may step in and take over ownership of the Luther Forest Technology Campus, the Capi

Saratoga County may step in and take over ownership of the Luther Forest Technology Campus, the Capital Region’s largest and most high-profile industrial park.

Under a tentative deal with state officials, county ownership would settle a state-local dispute over control of the property, where GlobalFoundries is building its $4.6 billion computer chip plant.

“It looks like there’s the framework of a deal,” said county Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Peck, R-Northumberland.

Such a deal would avoid a state takeover of the 1,414-acre site — a move local officials have opposed.

The agreement, which still has details to settle and may not be finalized until spring, has tentatively been struck between the county, the Empire State Development Corp. and the board of directors of the private Luther Forest Technology Campus Economic Development Corp., the present owners.

“Everyone’s goal here is the same, for the tech campus to be successful,” Peck said Tuesday.

Under the settlement framework, the county would take ownership of 1,200 acres in Malta and Stillwater and contract for the time being with the existing technology campus management to run the day-to-day operations, Peck said. The ownership change wouldn’t involve the 223 acres within the campus owned by GlobalFoundries.

A final deal would be subject to approval by the county Board of Supervisors.

The proposed agreement would resolve a behind-the-scenes power struggle that went public in October, when Empire State Development — the state’s economic development agency — threatened to foreclose on an outstanding loan it made to the technology campus, allowing it to seize control.

The campus, first proposed in 2002, is being marketed as a world-class site for high-tech manufacturing. Many people believe GlobalFoundries and the businesses it will attract will have a transforming impact on the Capital Region’s economy.

Underlying the state-local dispute over site control were complaints from GlobalFoundries that the final infrastructure projects needed for its factory to open were falling behind schedule.

The state’s seizure threat outraged local officials. Even Peck initially reacted angrily to the prospect of the state seizing land from the private nonprofit corporation that now owns it.

Peck met within days with Empire State Development Chairman Dennis Mullen, and they’ve met repeatedly since then.

Empire State Development officials say only that there’s been progress on the ownership and infrastructure issues.

Malta Supervisor Paul Sausville, who has expressed deep reservations about a state takeover, said he was aware of the discussions and is hopeful the town could maintain strong relationships with park officials if the county owned the property.

The ESDC board, meanwhile, arranged funding last month to address the outstanding infrastructure issues, which include paving of Cold Springs Road in Stillwater, extending a new natural gas line to the factory and finding and constructing a second water source.

The proposed deal would have the county pay off $12 million in loans the LFTC owes to the state in return for control of the property. How the county would raise the money is uncertain.

The county would control future appointments to the LFTC board of directors, Peck said. The existing board is made up of local businessmen.

Michael Relyea, president of the tech campus corporation, did not return a call seeking comment late Tuesday.

Under Relyea, the tech campus corporation has overseen completion of nearly $100 million in infrastructure, including 5.5 miles of road, high-voltage power lines coming in from both sides of the campus and construction of primary water and sewer lines.

Sausville said Malta officials were concerned that the state might not have honored existing agreements the town has with the tech campus, like the one for the campus corporation to reimburse the town for maintenance of the interior road system. This year, that payment was $108,000.

“The relationships and arrangements the town has established are important. We believe those arrangements will apply going forward with the county,” Sausville said.

The tech campus is about three-quarters in the town of Malta and one-quarter in Stillwater.

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