Scotia officials have reached out to the Metroplex Development Authority to see if it can offer any help in finding new space for the Scotia Diner, which is facing demolition for a new apartment complex.
Fearing the loss of a 50-year-old village institution, about 40 people packed the Village Hall Tuesday.
Mayor Kris Kastberg said it was too late to save the current building as the Planning Board last week approved a project by developer Bruce Tanski to demolish the diner, Attanasio’s Restaurant and three houses along Glen Avenue and construct a 50-unit apartment complex in its place.
Since then, Nicole Stack, a 10-year waitress at the diner, organized a Facebook site called Friends of Scotia Diner.
“Residents of Scotia and other places go to the diner for a filling meal or just a cup of coffee and some companionship,” Stack told the board.
Diner manager Terry Kyratzis said the property owner has not told him when they have to vacate the building and they found out about the project’s approval in the newspaper. “We’re left in the dark.”
Tanski has been trying to redevelop the site for several years. The Scotia Planning Board in 2008 rejected a plan to build a Rite Aid at the location.
Kyratzis accused Tanski of neglecting the property, saying they have painted the building and installed a handicapped ramp at their cost.
Some residents expressed concern about whether the apartments, which Kastberg said would rent for between $700 and $900 a month, would accept Section 8 vouchers and whether that would bring undesirable people and increase crime and lower property values.
“If we keep bringing in more and more renters, that means were going to have more kids from the city and it’s not going to be a nice place for our kids to go to school anymore,” said Angela Reed of Pleasantview Avenue.
Her father, David Davis, who lives on Sacandaga Road, worried about the increased traffic as well as crime. “Whatever benefit you’re going to get in taxes, you’re probably going to have more police to monitor it,” he said.
People are not filling up the apartments the village has, Kyratzis said, and this project breaks the flow of the business center on Mohawk Avenue, which has commercial activity on the first floor and apartments on the second and third.
Many speakers were great fans of the diner including Jan Hitchcock of Collins Avenue, who has been a patron for more than 20 years.
“Since my husband died, I get up in the morning and I can’t wait to go down to the Scotia Diner. It’s a wonderful pace to eat,” she said.
Kastberg said all these issues were discussed by the Planning Board during the four-month review process. He said the village cannot legally tell property owners what they can do with their properties. “As long as that plan follows our laws, our codes and what we call our design guidelines, it’s approved.”
In addition to contacting Metroplex, Kastberg also reached out to people who have vacant properties on Mohawk Avenue that may be suitable for a diner.
Kryatzis said he may have to relocate outside the village. He is still holding out hope.
“I believe with more effort from the community these people could persuade Tanski to re-evaluate his plan,” he said.