Less than a month after the state announced it is closing the Tryon juvenile detention complex in Perth, Fulton County officials are proposing converting the 500-acre campus into a business/industrial park.
A delegation of county officials led by county Planning Director James Mraz met Wednesday at Johnstown City Hall with state Sen. Hugh T. Farley and Assemblyman Marc Butler.
Farley said Friday he was composing a letter to be delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking for allocation of grant funds to support the project.
County Administrator Jon R. Stead said while the planning is in its early stages, “we haven’t been sitting on our hands.”
He said the county and its agencies have considerable experience developing industrial parks and this project, he said, would turn “a negative story about Tryon into a positive development for our county.”
Part of the state plan to close juvenile centers and prisons, Stead said, is the allocation of funding for communities affected by the closures. The funding guidelines are as yet unclear, he said, but the Tryon project appears to be a worthy proposal.
“There are real possibilities if the state is willing to work with us,” Stead said, citing the close proximity of Tryon, located in the eastern side of the county, to Saratoga, Wilton and Malta, where the Global Foundries chip plant is nearing completion.
And, Stead said, while Route 29 is not the Thruway, it is a major artery through the county. The intersection with Route 30, which does connect to the Thruway, is only several miles to the east.
With few lots left in existing county industrial parks, a new park is necessary, Stead said.
Those at Wednesday’s meeting also included Supervisor David Howard, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, Vice Chairman Michael Gendron, Economic Development Committee Chairwoman Linda Kemper and officials of the Fulton County Economic Development Corp. The meeting was held at City Hall because both legislators have regional officers there.
“It was a very exciting proposal they came promoting,” Farley said.
Farley said the proposal is “a wonderful” example of a revitalization project and noted Fulton County “has had a history of being successful in economic development.”
He said Cuomo may give the proposal some special consideration because the governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, was instrumental in the late ‘80s in funding the county’s first modern industrial park and in helping to recruit Spalding, one of its first major occupants.
Spalding once operated both a golf ball and a golf club plant in the park, but later sold to Callaway, which eventually closed the operation.
The elder Cuomo attended the dedication of the golf ball plant and was presented a “Mario Cuomo” autographed baseball glove by Spalding officials.
“This would be a capstone to economic development in Fulton County,” Farley said.
The campus would be ideal, he said, because it already has water and sewer service, infrastructure that would otherwise cost millions to install.
Cost estimates for the project have yet to be developed, Stead said, adding that it will take at least a year to fully develop the proposal.
Mraz could not be reached Friday.
Tryon is scheduled to close by the end of August.